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

City of Tomorrow

E ven by the fast-forward standards of California politics, where term limits bump off the entire state legislature every eight years, Antonio Villaraigosa has had a meteoric career. In the early 1990s, he was an organizer for the teachers' union, a county supervisor's delegate on the L.A. transit board, and president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California--none of these particularly promising starting points for a career in politics. By 1998, astonishingly, he had become speaker of the California Assembly--and today, he is the great progressive hope in the upcoming election for mayor of Los Angeles. The question now is whether Villaraigosa can hasten the course of L.A. politics-- and that of urban progressivism generally--as he has his own career. For if he is to win the election to succeed the term-limited (and conservative) Richard Riordan as mayor, he must construct a brand-new electoral alliance among communities that have almost nothing in common. The...

California's Progressive Mosaic

Pa Joad: Ain't you goin' with us? Casey: I'd like to. There's somethin' goin' on out there in the West, and I'd like to try and learn what it is. -- The Grapes of Wrath M ore than 60 years after John Steinbeck's Oakies headed west, California retains its power to confound--or even astound. Over the past decade, America's megastate has been transformed beyond recognition, demographically, economically, politically. The state that only yesterday gave the nation Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis's Proposition 13, and Ronald Reagan is today the nation's most reliably Democratic big state. Indeed, with its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature, and congressional delegation, California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control. California is more than just the Democrats' electoral anchor, however. Increasingly, a number of its cities are coming to look like Justice Louis Brandeis's "laboratories of democracy"--enacting minimum...

L.A. Story

T he old order still governs here; the future will not be rushed. Considering all the changes Los Angeles has gone through in just the past decade--white flight and immigrant influx, the displacement of the business elite, the rebirth of the union movement, the rise of a labor-Latino alliance--the idea that a new urban progressive coalition could officially take power this year might have been one transformation too many, one bridge too far (or, at least, too quick). Yet it almost happened--indeed, might have happened if the old order hadn't waged a disgraceful campaign to keep its hold on power. In defeating former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, a progressive Democrat, in Los Angeles's mayoral election on June 5, City Attorney James K. Hahn , a mainstream Democrat, organized one last victory for the old Los Angeles. In a city that's increasingly young and Latino, Hahn put together enough older white and black voters to prevail at the polls. Dispatching Villaraigosa...

Wither the Democrats

The Democrats still haven't found a way to tap America's discontent. Some new political books suggest how they can.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY: Kevin Boyle, The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968 (Cornell University Press, 1995). Dan T. Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics (Simon & Schuster, 1995). E.J. Dionne, Jr., They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Stanley B. Greenberg, Middle Class Dreams: The Politics and Power of the New American Majority (Times Books, 1995). Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An American History (Basic Books, 1995). Michael Lind, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution (The Free Press, 1995). Wilson Carey McWilliams, The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1976-94 (Chatham House, 1995). I n the 1940 presidential election, pollster Samuel Lubell developed a simple formula for charting the Roosevelt vote. In each city he surveyed, Lubell...

Waiting for Lefty

From where I was sitting at a recent dinner honoring Warren Beatty, hosted by Americans for Demo cratic Action in southern California, I couldn't see Courtney Love, who was certainly among the youngest of the several dozen celebrities who turned out for the first pronouncement of Beatty's not-quite-yet-if-ever-it-will-be presidential campaign. But around Beatty's fourth reference to Walter Reuther, I couldn't help wondering if Hole's lead chanteuse had any idea what the hell he was talking about. For a generation that routinely turns out for benefits to save the rain forest or the Dali Lama, Beatty's fin de siècle social democracy must have seemed the cutting edge in exotica. For an American liberal, however- who'd abandoned all hope of ever again hearing the words single payer or plutocracy in polite conversation, let alone in a Democratic platform- Warren Beatty's coming-out party was a visceral kick. Calling himself "an old-time, unrepentant, unreconstructed, tax-and-spend,...

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