Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Gray Matter

LOS ANGELES -- In the end it came down to touching. No, not Governor Arnold's three decades of alleged sexual harassment; that seemed of little moment to California voters. The touching problem in this election was all Gray Davis'. "You've got to touch people, relate to them, tell them what you care about," one Democratic politico told me at Davis' sparsely attended election eve rally in Los Angeles. "Gray's never been able to do that." Davis, in fact, has long been just about the unhappiest warrior on the American political battlefield. The normal business of politics -- negotiating with legislators, enunciating his principles, building support for his programs -- repelled him. The only part of the politician's trade that put him at ease was fundraising; he could always put the touch on people. In a sense, his is the tragedy of the staffer, the detail guy, whose ambition pushed him onto center stage, where he was exquisitely uneasy and inept. Only in the closing days of his campaign...

Immigration Nation

"Being a foreigner, being an immigrant," Elia Kazan, the great Turkish-born, Anatolian Greek director who died this week, once mused. "I mean, I wasn't in the society. I was rebellious against it." The irony, of course, is that Kazan virtually defined our national culture at the midpoint of the 20th century, directing such quintessentially American classics as Death of a Salesman and On the Waterfront . Which should hardly be surprising. The immigrant rebellion against American society that Kazan claimed to personify has been most typically a struggle against those who would keep immigrants at society's margins, both legal and economic. From the Irish of the 1840s to the Latin Americans, Asians and Africans of today, the object of this least threatening of rebellions has been to secure the right to become an American -- to speak not only to the nation but for it. That's certainly the goal of the roughly 500 immigrants who pulled into Washington yesterday afternoon on buses that...

New Balance

In the presidential candidacy of Wesley Clark, the Athenian party in American politics may just have found its Spartan. The meteoric ascent of the former NATO commander is scrambling all the normal alignments within the Democratic Party and some of those without. Whether Clark can sustain his initial momentum is anybody's guess; his first week as a candidate was a triumphal parade interrupted by the occasional self-inflicted wound. But for now, many of the longstanding battlements that have divided the Democrats for decades seem to have crumbled before him. Clark's legions include Democrats more accustomed to attacking one another than joining in common cause. Satirist and anti-Iraqi war activist Michael Moore has written a testimonial to Clark; so has Iraqi war proponent Jonathan Chait of The New Republic . Naderites of '00 have told me they're going Clark in '04; so have some Democrats who want to save the party from the specter of Howard Dean. As Clark's campaign team begins to...

Justice Deserts

There's separation of powers for you. Just when Democrat Gray Davis looks like he might survive the October recall, along come three Democratic-appointed judges to postpone the vote. Monday's decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit didn't merely scramble the already jumbled electoral situation in California. It was also a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's Gang of Five, the justices who plunked down George W. Bush in the White House three years ago with their ruling in Bush v. Gore . Now the 9th Circuiters have called Bill Rehnquist's bluff. Did he really mean all that stuff about extending the equal protection clause to voters who stood a greater chance to be disenfranchised by the absence of a uniform standard of counting votes? Was he really concerned about the tabulation disparities between one county and the next? Or was Bush v. Gore just a one-time-only decision crafted to elect a Republican president? "Plaintiffs' claim presents...

Recalling the Future

I. Hiram Johnson's Mess The land may have been ours before we were the land's, as Robert Frost wrote, but not in California. The Progressives saw to that. When people arrived in my home state, there were no political institutions to reach out to them or provide an orientation; there was nothing they could join. Whether they came from the Midwest in the years before World War II, enticed by the glossy brochures with the pictures of orange groves that the chambers of commerce put out, or in desperation from Mexico during the past two decades, in flight from an economy in collapse, they found themselves in a peculiar vacuum: Politically, at least, there was no one around to welcome them. Most particularly, there were no parties. The Progressives may have liked direct democracy, and they instituted the initiative, the referendum and the recall when their leader, Hiram Johnson, became governor and they took control of the legislature in 1911. But what really got them going was their hatred...

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