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

Labor Intense

LAS VEGAS -- “I think John Sweeney's administration is rhetorically prepared to embrace any and all proposals for change to stay in power,” one of American labor's dissident leaders told me in January. “If John Sweeney is re-elected, he's out of gas. Nothing is going to change over there” at the AFL-CIO, and American labor's, headquarters, where Sweeney has been president since 1995 and where he is up for re-election in July. “This should all be clearer,” the leader continued, “by Vegas.” Vegas -- the executive-council meeting of the federation held from March 1–3 in Las Vegas -- has come and gone, and while some things are clearer, others are murkier, and most everything is grimmer. Las Vegas marked the moment when the federation had to confront the dissidents in its midst -- chiefly, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, and UNITE HERE (clothing and hotel workers). The dissidents, fed up with the federation's poor growth since Sweeney took over, were...

Tackling Arnold

Phil Angelides looks like a nerd. Gangly and elongated, earnest in manner, liberal in politics, he is in almost every way the polar opposite of the current governor of California -- whom, Angelides announced yesterday, he is seeking to replace in next year's gubernatorial election. Angelides' declaration came as no surprise. California's treasurer since 1999, Angelides has been the only leading Democrat to oppose Arnold Schwarzenegger at every turn. When Schwarzenegger went to the voters last year with a bond measure to finance some of the state's deficit -- not a bond for schools or parks, mind you, but for current deficit spending -- Angelides stood virtually alone in opposing it. The measure passed, but as a result of Schwarzenegger's unyielding opposition to restoring the top tax rate on California's wealthy, the state's budget is still billions of dollars in the red. This year Arnold's budget does contain a few revenue enhancers. He's targeted for elimination a property tax and...

Born to Runoff

LOS ANGELES -- Someone once asked Jean Renoir, the great French filmmaker whose flight from the Nazis plunked him down in Los Angeles in 1941, why he'd never made a film about his adopted city. After all, even after World War II ended, Renoir continued to split his time between France and L.A. "Wilshire Boulevard," Renoir replied. "It has no smell to it." It wasn't just by the standards of Paris that Los Angeles must have seemed a supremely colorless city to Renoir, and its main drag as soulless a strip of corporate architecture as the mind of man could devise. Unlike the great cities of America's East Coast and Midwest, L.A. had no Little Italy, no German Quarter, no Irish political machine. While the great wave of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe remade nearly all of America's biggest cities in the early years of the last century, L.A. was enticing Iowans and Ohioans to leave winter behind and come out to the land of perpetual sun. Straight through the 1960 Census, Los...

Worker-Friendly Politicians, Unite

How do the Democrats win back the allegiance of the white working class? The problem may be deeper than even the most pessimistic Democrats fear it is. The redoubtable and unpronounceable Ruy Teixeira, Democratic poll analyst par excellence, has been rooting around in the raw data newly released from the 2004 exit poll and has come up with one morsel that should cause Democrats everywhere to gag. It's not just that John Kerry got clobbered by working-class whites, whom he lost to George W. Bush by a hefty 23 points. It's not just that 66 percent of these voters trusted Bush to handle terrorism, compared with just 39 percent who trusted Kerry. It's that 55 percent of white working-class voters trusted Bush to handle the economy , while only 39 percent trusted Kerry. Few Americans of any class give stellar marks to Bush on the economy. The Bush recovery is anemic by historical standards, and for working-class Americans it's altogether sickly. We are now into the 11th quarter since the...

Mayday for the Mayor

LOS ANGELES -- The street lamps are festooned with banners reminding people about the Academy Awards, as if anyone here needed reminding. The police are scrambling to mollify the African American community after the latest South Central car chase, in which a cop shot and killed a black motorist who turned out to be a 13-year-old boy. And the race for mayor, though Election Day is less than three weeks away, hasn't really dented the public's consciousness, which in matters of politics is characteristically dent-resistant. In other words, it's just a typical week in my hometown. Four years ago, with Mayor Richard Riordan term-limited out of office, the mayoral campaign of former California assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa uncharacteristically awakened the city. The charismatic Villaraigosa, a tribune for the Latino immigrant poor, built a citywide progressive alliance that included Westside liberals and thousands of volunteers. Villaraigosa finished first in the primary, but he...

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