Courtney Martin

Courtney E. Martin is a Prospect senior correspondent. She is the author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). You can read more about her work at

Recent Articles

The Celeb Factor in Politics

Hollywood and Washington have always had a lot of connections, but, this election cycle, the nature of celebrity involvement in politics has really changed.

Right-leaning pundits, like The Chicago Tribune's Andrew Malcolm, have wasted no time in blaming Oprah's recent drop in ratings (she only has 7.3 million viewers) on her endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Never mind that she's been obsessively featuring new age, elfish guru Eckhart Tolle -- way out there for some viewers' tastes -- or that the economy is sending stay-at-home moms back to work to make ends meet and cutting down on nonessential spending like magazine subscriptions (the circulation of her magazine is also down). There was no shortage of celebrity intervention throughout the primary season. Most notable, besides the big O's endorsement, was the video, "Yes We Can," (10 million views in the first week), which served to further hip-ify everything Obama. Last week, newspapers from London to Los Angeles ran sexy headlines about Scarlett Johansson's claim that she and Obama have been exchanging e-mails on a regular basis. Politico reports...

Dear Hillary: A Letter from an Obama Feminist

Even though I didn't vote for you, I want to thank you for your path-breaking campaign. You changed the landscape of politics and gender.

Dear Hillary, I didn’t vote for you in the primaries, but I want you to know how deeply appreciative I am of your campaign, your presence, and your perseverance. You have changed the landscape of politics and gender so dramatically in the last year that it is almost hard for me to remember what it was like before your campaign. I strain to remember the moment, just a few semesters ago, when one of my students said, “Miss, I gotta tell you, I just can’t imagine a woman president.” It was the days of Geena Davis’ failed television show depicting just that, the days when your candidacy was still a pipe dream, the days when female and president were still estranged words in the American psyche. So much has changed. While I don’t agree with all of the choices you and your staff have made along the way, there isn't a pundit or political scientist who could argue that you haven't run a competitive campaign, or been taken seriously by the American public, for that matter. My former student...

A Crisis of Attention and Intention

The distracted American college student can teach us a lot about living a life that is more than just productive.

As students across the country gear up for end-of-the-year blow-outs and graduation parties, there will surely be plenty of reminiscing—drunkest nights, most hilarious hook-ups, funniest first impressions. But how much will students be talking about their favorite professors and the quality of their ideas? To be sure, college has always been about far more than classes, but in the age of text messaging and increasing pre-professionalism, do students still care about the life of the mind? According to Josh Waitzkin, a 2003 graduate of Columbia University, not much. When he returned to his favorite political theory professor's course a few weeks ago, he slid into a seat in the back of the lecture hall and opened up his trusty spiral notebook. As he stared down at the sea of students, he realized how much had changed in the few short years since heds been gone. Professor Dennis Dalton began his lecture on Mahatma Gandhi's mass civil-disobedience campaign following the Amritsar massacre,...

The Undocumented American Dream

A new anthology of autobiographical stories written by undocumented immigrant college students serves as a reminder that we're neglecting some of the country's best and brightest.

Antonio Alvarez knew he wanted to go to the University of California, Los Angeles the first time he set eyes on the towering columns of the library during an elementary school field trip. But as an undocumented immigrant -- his parents took him and his two siblings to the U.S. from Mexico when he was just 4 years old -- he knew that dream was a far reach. Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative passed in 1994, threatened his access to a public education, and driver's license laws threatened his father's livelihood delivering pizza. Despite the fact that every day was both a financial and logistical struggle, Antonio managed to thrive academically, getting almost a 4.0 throughout high school. He decided to spend his first two years at a community college so he could save money while attending classes and working at a supermarket. Finally, it was time to apply to UCLA. When he got that fat envelope in the mail signifying his admission, he knew his dream had finally come true...

More Than a Mother-Daughter Debate

Feminists inevitably lose when they take a reductive approach to generational rifts, such as the current fracas over whether or not to vote for Hillary Clinton. It's time for a more complex conversation.

Linda Hirshman, the sharp-tongued author behind the most contentious battles of the so-called "Mommy Wars," has now set her sights on younger feminists and their views of Hillary Clinton. In a recent Slate article titled "Yo Mamma," she laments the "'Mother-Daughter' power struggle" playing out in the primaries, using an out-of-context quotation from me as a jumping off point, and then going on to make fun of a few other young feminists. Her framing of young women's electoral choices as a mommy complex is reductive. Yes, I did admit, in a post on Glamour magazine's Glamocracy blog , that Clinton sometimes reminds me of my mother in her I'm-feeling-unappreciated moments. Whether we like to say so or not, we're all swayed by our emotional experiences of the candidates -- which is one more reason why I wish we saw a bit more of Clinton's wide-eyed Wellesley self. I hardly intended 350 words from that post to sum up my views on the election. (Hirshman must have missed the 20,000 or so...