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

Organize or Die

It was one of those awkward meetings that nobody looked forward to, and it produced an outcome nobody really liked. On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the executive council of the AFL-CIO turned its attention to the vexing question of what to do with the Carpenters. The union had withdrawn from the labor federation in 2001, with its maverick president, Doug McCarron, complaining that the AFL-CIO was frittering away his members' money on projects other than helping unions organize. The rift had widened in recent years as McCarron kept showing up alongside George W. Bush, finding virtues in the president that eluded his fellow union leaders. But despite all that, the Carpenters were still a functioning member of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Council, working harmoniously with other building-trades unions at construction sites and on matters of jurisdiction and organizing. Problem was, this was a clear violation of the AFL-CIO's constitution, which banned unions that didn't pay...

Union Card

CHICAGO -- Loyalty, a virtue largely confined to the working class these days, was alive and well this week among the union presidents gathered for the AFL-CIO executive council meeting here. On Tuesday they not only pledged their support and funding to California Gov. Gray Davis in his effort to stave off his recall but warned other Democrats to stay out of the race. On Wednesday they scheduled a mid-October meeting at which it's a slightly better than even bet that they'll endorse Dick Gephardt for president. Like Othello, America's labor leaders may be loving not wisely but too well. Gray Davis has never really been a labor favorite, and his reception by the executive council, according to several presidents who were in the closed meeting, was no more than coolly cordial. But the council opted to follow the lead of the AFL-CIO's California affiliate, which had vowed never to aid any Democrat with the temerity to enter the race to succeed Davis should the recall pass. The electoral...

California Dreaming

LOS ANGELES -- The Republicans here are performing a ghost dance, hoping that through the magic of the pending recall election, the buffalo will again roam the plains and the GOP will regain its status as a player in California politics. They're dreaming. While it is possible that Gray Davis could be recalled and a Republican installed in the statehouse until 2006, there are profound and irreversible reasons why the California of Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis and Ronald Reagan has vanished, and why California has become just about the most solidly Democratic state in the nation. Still, Republicans who attended the recall rally outside the state capitol last Saturday could be forgiven if they thought they were reliving the glory days of 1978, when a right-wing popular upsurge led to the enactment of Jarvis' anti-tax, anti-spending Proposition 13. Radio talk show hosts were hyping the recall as their forbearers had hyped Jarvis' initiative. Three far-right party leaders who plan to run...

War Trap

Dick Gephardt deserves Howard Dean. In a sense, he created him. If anyone has personified the failure of the Democratic establishment to provide the party with a distinct profile during the Bush presidency, it's Gephardt. As House Democratic leader, Gephardt clung to Bush's Iraq policy until it all but unraveled over the past month. Gephardt's endorsement last fall of the administration's war resolution effectively derailed a bipartisan effort in the Senate to require the White House to win more international backing. There was supposedly a method in this madness: By taking the war issue off the table, Gephardt argued, the Democrats could turn the midterm election campaign to questions of domestic policy, presumably their strong suit. We'll never know if this could have worked, because Gephardt and his fellow congressional leaders never developed a domestic message. To millions of die-hard Democrats, it looked as if their party had sacrificed its principles on the altar of pragmatism...

Net Worth

As revolutions go, this one began with remarkably little fanfare. Last Thursday MoveOn.org sent out an e-mail to its members -- all 1.4 million of them -- asking if they'd like to take part in an online Democratic presidential primary later this month. Candidates would answer questions that MoveOn put to them, and if one of them managed to pull a majority of the members' votes, the organization would endorse him. This is no straw poll: MoveOn does real politics. Founded by some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as a way for liberals and others to electronically register their rage at the impeachment lunacy of 1998, MoveOn has already become a force in American politics. It has coordinated its members to lobby Congress on a host of issues, was a center of opposition to the Iraqi war, and has proved itself as a source of grass-roots campaign contributions ($4.1 million in 2002) to progressive candidates. Last fall MoveOn made a special pitch to its members to help out Minnesota Sen. Paul...

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