Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Arnold Gets Girlie

Sacramento -- It was just two years ago that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, angered by his inability to get right-wing bills through his state's Democratic-controlled legislature, termed that body's leaders -- Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senator Don Perata -- "girlie men." This political neologism went over particularly big with a subgroup with which Arnold claimed a special rapport: Dumb Young White Guys. Deluded, perhaps, by the belief that the Census Bureau systematically undercounted the DYWGs, the Governator then spent all of last year campaigning against the Democrats and their institutional allies. Attempting an end run around the legislature, he called a special election so that voters could approve four partisan Republican initiatives he supported, including a draconian spending limit and a measure that would have curtailed unions' political involvement. Somehow he overlooked that California is a heavily blue state, and a place where independents are more...

Workingman's Blues

Labor Day is almost upon us, and like some of my fellow graybeards, I can, if I concentrate, actually remember what it was that this holiday once celebrated. Something about America being the land of broadly shared prosperity. Something about America being the first nation in human history that had a middle-class majority, where parents had every reason to think their children would fare even better than they had. The young may be understandably incredulous, but the Great Compression, as economists call it, was the single most important social fact in our country in the decades after World War II. From 1947 through 1973, American productivity rose by a whopping 104 percent, and median family income rose by the very same 104 percent. More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before. In ways more difficult to quantify, the mass prosperity fostered a generosity of spirit: The civil rights revolution and the Marshall Plan both emanated from an...

Running Man

Murfreesboro, Tennessee -- On the grounds of the old Rutherford County Courthouse, in the middle of the Murfreesboro Town Square, about a half-hour's drive from downtown Nashville, there's a plaque commemorating what Civil War buffs know as Forrest's First Raid. Here, in July 1862, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader turned Confederate general, and his troops surprised and captured an entire Union garrison. Forrest may be the most prominent figure in American history who could happily have captained a German SS unit. In 1864 his troops massacred hundreds of African American Union soldiers whom they'd captured after the surrender of Fort Pillow. And after the war Forrest was a founder and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Which made the rally at the courthouse last Saturday all the more remarkable. Several hundred Murfreesboro Democrats, a clear majority of them white, had come out on a brutally hot morning to hear Harold Ford Jr. -- the 36-year-old congressman from...

Down These Main Streets

If you're looking for a land that time forgot, you couldn't do much better than the mountain country of central Pennsylvania. On a sparkling summer day it's a tableau of lazy rivers and deeply green forested hills, of cornfields and farmhouses (some abandoned) and steel mills (many shuttered), and one little town after another where the buildings on Main Street look pretty much as they did in the 1940s (except those that are boarded up). Many prospects please here, but nothing bespeaks either newness or prosperity (except the occasional Wal-Mart, which bespeaks newness and the absence of prosperity). Politically, north-central Pennsylvania is one of the most venerable Republican terrains in the land, and it's grown more Republican in recent decades with the closing of unionized steel and textile mills. James Carville once famously observed that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. As if to confirm Carville's thesis, when I attended the Mifflin County...

Field Notes

If you look at the polls and nothing else, it seems almost self-evident that Nancy Pelosi will be wielding the speaker's gavel come January. Nationally, voters give Democrats a 10-point edge over Republicans in their congressional preferences. Another survey, of 50 swing House districts conducted for National Public Radio, found Democrats leading in the 10 seats they currently hold by a 2-to-1 margin, while Republicans trailed Democrats in the 40 seats they currently hold by a 4 percent margin. But elections aren't won by public opinion alone. A midterm election is above all an exercise in voter mobilization, and looking at the Democrats' emerging get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operations, it's clear that the Democrats still face one tough slog. Though every major player on the Democratic side -- the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the unions, the environmental groups, the...

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