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

Debacle

It is the first sign of trouble in a play about nothing but trouble. Asked by her father in the play's first scene what she can say to demonstrate her love for him, Cordelia says, "Nothing." To which Lear responds, "Nothing will come of nothing." Which is a pretty fair summation of the Democrats' 2002 campaign. They had no message. They were an opposition party that drew no lines of opposition. They had nothing to say. And on Tuesday, their base responded by staying home in droves. Nothing came of nothing. The Democrats lost the Senate, lost seats in the House, and picked up significantly fewer statehouses than they had counted upon. On what should have been the Democrats' defining issues, they endeavored to be indistinct. They could never bring themselves to oppose Bush's tax cut, his trillion-dollar handout to the rich, though that made it impossible for them to advocate any significant programs of their own. Nor could they bring themselves to oppose the White House's headlong...

The Rising Latino Tide

I. I Can Help McBride! "When I go door-to-door, and they open it up, they don't really listen to me," says Patrick Vilar, a fresh-faced young Democrat who is seeking election to the Florida House of Representatives this November in a district that, the conventional wisdom says, is Cuban, Republican and, for a Democrat, a fool's errand. "They read down the piece until they come to the line, 'Colombian Bar Association,'" he says. "That stops them. They look up and say, 'You're Colombian?' Then we start speaking in Spanish. It's a match." Vilar is encountering many such matches as election day draws near because his district, like the rest of Florida, is changing into something no one anticipated just a few years ago. "This is a misleadingly Republican district," says Vilar. "I know, it's 45 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 25 percent independent -- that's more independents than any district in the state. What people don't know" -- and he winks at me as if he's sharing some...

Liberalism's Heart

"Of my three campaigns, this one has generated the most emotion, the most volunteers," Paul Wellstone told me on an unseasonably cool and beautiful afternoon in late August as his legendary green campaign bus bounced along down some Minnesota byway. "My supporters think there's just so much at stake, so much to lose." His supporters were audible at almost every turn in the road. Everybody in Minnesota knew Wellstone; everybody knew his bus, and as they saw it coming they would honk and wave, or, if dedicated Wellstone haters, honk and give the finger. Although, as Wellstone would marvel later that day, he no longer seemed to inspire the intense dislike you'd expect a figure who took so many unpopular stances to generate. After debating his Republican opponent, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, at a game fair (for hunters and their dogs), where at least a third of the booths had guns for sale, he came away pleased and surprised: "I would have expected more hostility," he told me. "It...

The Analogist

W ith the midterm elections now less than a month away, the Democrats have been split into two camps on the issue of war and peace. The most dramatic split, surely, is the one between the House of Gephardt and the House of Gore. The rift is more glaring because, at least at first glance, each leader has had to reverse his stance on the Persian Gulf War to arrive at his present position. In endorsing a microscopically watered-down version of Bush Junior's original resolution, Dick Gephardt has said just that: He now believes his vote opposing the 1991 resolution authorizing Poppy Bush to go to war was a mistake. Al Gore, on the other hand, was one of just 10 Democratic senators who voted to authorize the Gulf War, and he reaffirmed that position while breaking with Bush during an address to the Commonwealth Club on Sept. 23. His critics allege that he's campaigning under false colors here, that this is just an opportunistic contradiction of his past record. Opportunistic, perhaps, but...

Union Seeks Republicans

I. Labor Day in the Park with George If you closed your eyes at this year's New York City Labor Day rally, you might have thought you'd been transported to some Hibernian rite at the turn of the last century, back when organized labor spoke with a brogue. The city's locals had assembled in Battery Park for a mix of candidates' speeches and tributes to the union members who had died a few blocks north at the World Trade Center nearly one year earlier. The bagpipe band of Electrical Workers Local 3 kicked things off with an all-George M. Cohan overture -- "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" -- segued into "Amazing Grace" as Air National Guard jets flew overhead in the missing-man formation and, in a perhaps unintentionally grim forecast of days to come, marched off playing "The Minstrel Boy to the Wars Has Gone." The program grew less Irish and more disorienting, however, as it moved from music to speech. In New York, after all, the pols at the Labor Day rallies...

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