Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

COULD 2001 HAVE BEEN THE NEW 1937?

COULD 2001 HAVE BEEN THE NEW 1937? Matt replies here to my post from yesterday about the 2000 election. There seem to be two separate arguments he's making here. On the less important issue of whether Gore squandered an opportunity because he failed to "propose a particularly ambitious domestic agenda during the 2000 campaign," I suppose that all things being equal I would have preferred that he do so. But as I said yesterday, I don't think that it's terribly consequential in terms of what he could have accomplished, and given the states in play he had sound strategic reasons for not doing so. The more important question is "would [it] have been feasible for a progressive president to secure a similarly-scaled, though differently directed, package of reforms." I am certain that it would not have been. The fact that, from a rational policy perspective, 2001 would be a good time for an ambitious progressive agenda is neither here nor there in terms of the political viability of such a...

BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS.

BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS. I think I'm a little more sympathetic to the overall premise of Matt 's argument than Ezra, although to me it's not so much about the war (arguably the greatest period of progressive policy-making in American history, after all, happened during the escalation of the Vietnam war) as a straightforward story about how American political institutions make major progressive reform very difficult under all but the most fortuitous circumstances. I must admit, however, intense annoyance about Matt's claim that Al Gore is to blame for "squander[ing] the opportunity" presented in 2000. First of all, we don't know what kind of reform Gore might have been able to attain, especially a Gore elected to a second term ( FDR didn't exactly run as a fire-breathing progressive in 1932.) Given that the election was "lost" in relatively conservative swing states, there were good strategic reasons for not running further left, but this doesn't tell us exactly what his policy agenda...

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK ABOUT DESTROYING THE UNIO... I MEAN, THE CHILDREN?

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK ABOUT DESTROYING THE UNIO... I MEAN, THE CHILDREN? Kevin Drum has an excellent rejoinder to Megan McArdle 's offer to support any and all liberal remedies, including "double spending per student" (with, presumably, commensurate tax increases I'm sure McArdle and her conservertarian friends will enthusiastically support!) if liberals will agree to bust teacher's unions. As Kevin says, particularly given the logical problems (where, exactly, is this pool of brilliant teachers willing to teach in badly-performing public schools for non-union wages and with no employment protections going to come from?) and lack of empirical evidence that unionization has a significant effect on educational outcomes, it once again gives away the neoliberal show . Even given conflicts between their purported fiscal principles and their a priori desire to crush unions, they'll pick the latter. Moreover, there's also the problem of how disconnected this is from actual politics. As...

THE GOODRIDGE BACKLASH?...

THE GOODRIDGE BACKLASH? In response to my point that Mickey Kaus 's nominal support for gay marriage was empty because he never finds any means of achieving it acceptable (the only meaningful difference between people who are flat-out reactionaries and people who support social change unless it might cause social conflict or affect entrenched interests is that the former are at least honest), a commenter at my other site asks : "There wasn't a massive backlash after the San Francisco and Massachusetts decisions? This didn't mobilize the Republican vote in Ohio and other battleground states, thus costing Democrats the 2004 election?" Although the question is apparently meant to be rhetorical, the short answer is in fact "no." I'm presenting the long answer in an updated version of a paper I'm presenting at the MWPSA conference next month, and Dan Pinello does a good job of summarizing the arguments in his new book too. To summarize some of the many problems with the countermobilization...

THE INEVITABILITY OF ANACHRONISM.

THE INEVITABILITY OF ANACHRONISM. I wholly endorse Ezra 's argument here , and also strongly recommend Sandy Levinson 's book (although, as is often the case, his diagnosis is more convincing than his remedies.) Obviously, to defend an institutional feature as irrational and undemocratic as the electoral college (even though it produced a constitutional crisis in the third presidential election after the Constitution's ratification!) merely because the framers designed it is ridiculous. To add another point, the reviewer Ezra cites claims that the Constitution is a "workable document that only got us through a bit under 250 years." The rather obvious problem with this is that the first Constitution failed , as it proved unable to prevent the collapse of the nation into an exceptionally bloody civil war. This is not because the framers were stupid, but because even very smart people aren't clairvoyant. One would think that this would have permanently made a stance of uncritical...

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