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

God and the New Deal

So the Democrats are having trouble with the politics of cultural traditionalism? So what else is new? To be sure, the gap in the electorate between the observant and the secular is widening. But it's just one part of a larger cultural rift that the Republicans have long realized (as far back as Richard Nixon) is central to their success. Since Nixon's announcement that he stood with the “silent majority” against the noisy protesters, the Republicans have practiced a form of identity politics, championing the more traditional culture of Middle America against its putative cosmopolitan threats. Indeed, magnifying those threats has become the linchpin of the Republicans' presidential-election strategy. Even before the Republicans learned how to fully exploit it, however, the tension between modernity and tradition had long been a challenge for Democrats and liberals -- as far back, in fact, as the early years of the New Deal. Then, the tension occurred chiefly within the Democratic base...

What Are Democrats About?

"I sought a theme and sought for it in vain." -- William Butler Yeats , “The Circus Animals' Desertion” Once more, the theme of themelessness. Cover the Democrats for any length of time and you become expert in campaigns that don't seem to be about anything. They have policies; Democrats are good at policies. But all too often the campaigns lack a message -- a sense of what the candidate's about and what he aims to do. Democrats don't have a monopoly on such campaigns; if anyone can remember the theme of Bob Dole's 1996 presidential bid, he's probably got it mixed up with some other campaign. But John Kerry, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis -- three of the last four Democratic standard-bearers -- never really delivered a compelling message to American voters. And there were times during each of their presidential campaigns when the candidates knew it, when they sensed they weren't connecting, brought in new advisers and asked what it was they stood for. In the waning days of the Dukakis...

Divided Land

"All right," John Dos Passos wrote in a rage over the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, "we are two nations." Oh, are we ever. And 77 years after Dos Passos penned those words, his two nations and ours bear an almost spooky resemblance. The most striking, the most overwhelming fact about the 2004 vote is how closely it resembles the 2000 vote. Think of it: Since November 2000, the twin towers have been obliterated, we've gone to war preemptively and under erroneous pretenses in Iraq, George W. Bush has become the first president since Herbert Hoover to have jobs shrink on his watch, our standing in the world has diminished nearly everywhere. And how did all this affect the electoral map? A shift of 17,000 votes turned New Hampshire (four electoral votes) from red to blue, while a shift of 12,000 votes turned New Mexico (five electoral votes) from blue to red. The battle lines of the cultural civil war that emerged in the 2000 contest have shown themselves to be all but impermeable to...

Values-Driven

What's most dispiriting about last night's loss (I am assuming here that John Kerry will lose Ohio, though I'd dearly love to be proven wrong) is that the Democrats did a lot of things right in this year's campaign. They nominated the strongest candidate in their primary field. They waged the smartest, best funded, and most effective ground campaign in their history. They were more unified than they've been since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 run against Barry Goldwater. And they got their clock cleaned. The results bear an almost spooky resemblance to those of 2000 – as if the Iraqi War had never happened, as if George W. Bush wasn't the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs on his watch, as if American had actually maintained its place in the family of nations. Instead, on Tuesday, we simply retook the cultural census of 2000, with the result that George W. Bush's one Northeastern state of that year (New Hampshire) moved into Kerry's column and, possibly, that Al Gore's two...

Where's the Shame?

With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilizing their own. Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls. Republican consultant Ed Rollins was all but drummed out of the profession after his efforts to pay black ministers to keep their congregants from voting in a 1993 New Jersey election came to light. For George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm. In Ohio, Republicans have recruited 3,600 poll monitors and assigned them disproportionately to such heavily black areas as inner-city Cleveland...

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