Jan Schakowsky

Recent Articles

Elect More Women

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . The right wing has been stunningly successful in creating a new normal. The idea of labor unions and the role they play in providing middle--class wages and a middle-class lifestyle, the idea of defined pensions and benefits—these are, according to the new normal, all so 20th--century and no longer appropriate. This new normal has reduced the parameters of reasonable expectation even within our own base. There’s a lack of confidence on the left about promoting or even defending the strategies and structures that brought us a strong middle class. We aren’t nearly as self-confident as we need to be in saying the ideas of unions and collective bargaining are not outdated, no more than Social Security and Medicare are. We have to educate people on the role of organized labor. The labor movement needs to be seen as consistent with 21st-century realities,...

New Century, New Challenges

“The Death of Environmentalism” has stimulated a lot of debate, and not just at tables where environmentalists gather. It asks questions that are legitimate and necessary to consider: how to fight Wal-Mart, how to win universal health care, how to create a world of limitless opportunity instead of widespread hunger and disease. It suggests the need for a completely new approach to combating global warming -- an approach that must reach across the planet to address megacorporate power, economic interests, cultural differences, and individual expectations. These are 21st-century organizing challenges, made more difficult in the case of global warming by the scientific community's demand for immediate action to prevent ecological disaster. They require new alliances, new ways of thinking, new strategies, and new tactics. They require us to define ourselves in new and bold ways, not to change our behavior based on their criticisms or spend time responding to their efforts to define us...

From Bush's Playbook

Given his lack of mandate, one might have expected moderation and caution from George W. Bush. Instead, Bush moved aggressively to reframe the basic dialogue of American politics and restructure the institutions of American government. What has Bush to teach John Kerry? Bush adhered consistently to three core principles: 1. Vision. Unlike his father, this Bush had no problem with the “vision thing.” He has been resolute in projecting a vision of America. His economic agenda was simple and consistent: The economy grows if you give more wealth to the wealthy; the private sector is always better than the public sector. His international agenda was driven by the neoconservative belief in American exceptionalism, from which follows unilateralism, preemption, unchallengeable U.S. power, and unwillingness to abide by international laws, agreements, and institutions. 2. Structural Change. The Bush team set out to alter fundamental relations of power. It systematically moved to weaken and...