Ben Adler

Ben Adler writes on national politics and domestic policy. Ben has been a staff writer for Politico and an editor at Newsweek and the Center for American Progress. His writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, The Guardian and Next American City among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Recent Articles


NEW URBANISM. Matt brilliantly defends new urbanism from the tautological rightwing criticisms of pundits like Ross Douthat and Joel Kotkin (they argue that people move to suburbs because inner-cities are too expensive, we argue that we're well aware of that, which is why we seek to change the government incentive structure to make urban living more affordable and suburban living more expensive.) I just want to add one area of public policy to the transportation issues Matt discusses to this debate: public schools. A major reason the middle-class flees to the suburbs is the decrepit condition of inner-city public schools. Suburban triumphalists like Douthat and Kotkin pretend that the middle-class flight to the burbs proves that everyone wants a lawn, a garage and to have to drive anywhere to buy anything. In fact, a large minority of those people would have been happy to live in an apartment and take the subway to work, but their local school district would be too under-funded and...


IOWA OBSESSION: A piece in The Politico on the presidential campaign caught my eye today. It said , " Mitt and Ann Romney will join Bill and Hillary Clinton in a parade along Main Avenue," guess where? Without reading the story, which gives it away in the lead, you might guess that the wealthy former governor of Massachusettes and a former president would be spending a vacation day in some town on Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod, right? Wrong. Both the Romneys and the Clintons couldn't think of a more exciting place to spend in July 4th than Clear Lake, Iowa. What a funny coincidence! And what, pray tell, makes Clear Lake, Iowa the place of choice for folks who could spend it anywhere in the world? Is it because they want to see the Surf Ballroom? The Clear Lake Visitor Infomration Website brags that, "Groups who have recently performed at the Surf include Cheap Trick, George Thorogood , Faith Hill , Brad Paisley and Tracy Lawrence ." No it turns out that in America a couple of mostly...


TRENDS IN YOUTH OPINION: As John Judis and Ruy Teixera recently argued in the Prospect "Generation Y" voters are trending heavily progressive. A New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll released a few days ago would seem to support their contention. A few highlights from the Times article : Young Americans appear to lean slightly more to the left than the general population: 28 percent described themselves as liberal, compared with 20 percent of the nation at large. And 27 percent called themselves conservative, compared with 32 percent of the general public. Forty-four percent said they believed that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married, compared with 28 percent of the public at large. They are more likely than their elders to support the legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. This would seem to suggest, as I've argued before, that Democrats would be wise to take more forthrightly progressive stances on questions like gay marriage and reforming our draconian...


SLIVER OF AUTONOMY FOR D.C. I recently reported on the bill in Congress to give Washington, D.C. a voting representative in Congress. Advocates of D.C. voting rights note that, for the past nine years, Congress has prevented D.C. from having a needle-exchange program, and point to this as one of the biggest indignities that D.C. suffers at the hands of Congress. With one of the worst rates of HIV infection in the country, they desperately need a sensible public-health policy on the issue, but conservative ideologues in Congress foiled them. But now that the Democrats have taken over Congress D.C. will be able to give it a try . The way the federal government has treated D.C. in recent years has been a disgrace (I think Jose Serrano was right to call it "colonial"), and hopefully this is a sign of a more improvement to come. --Ben Adler


GIULIANI MYTHOLOGY: Dana 's piece today on the second-tier Democrats policy proposals is very informative. In particular I think the section on drug and crime policy reform highlights a serious injustice that should be on the agenda of mainstream Democrats and, lamentably, is not. But I do have a nit to pick with this little bit of analysis: Although large majorities of Americans would like to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, being 'tough on crime' and 'tough on drugs' are perennially winning stances in American elections. Just look at Rudy Giuliani . As the resident Giuliani myth-debunker I think it's worth pointing out that he lost his first race for mayor, barely won his second, and dropped out of his Senate race because he was trailing carpet-bagger Hillary Clinton in the polls. Nonetheless, I would readily concede that being tough on crime has been a winning stance for many candidates, and that Republican Giuliani owes his victory in heavily Democratic New York City to...