Jeremy Derfner

Jeremy Derfner is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Department of Quixotic Endeavors

For the record, John Anderson, the 77-year-old former Illinois congressman last seen vying for the presidency in 1980 as a third-party candidate, is not running for the Reform Party nomination this year. But that hasn't stopped his diehard supporters from creating www.draftanderson.org . They're serious. Indeed the campaign is moving forward with all sincerity, boasting a burgeoning ground operation (they proudly claim at least one contact in 11 of the 50 states) and a capable fundraising apparatus. Well, sort of capable. While Anderson 2000 has set itself a goal of raising $5,000 in at least 20 states in order to gain access to federal matching funds, so far it has raised a grand total of $7,400--$100 of it from Anderson's home state of Illinois and the remainder from Minnesota and New York. That's pocket change for, say, Reform candidate Donald Trump. And while the Draft Anderson movement has succeeded in getting its candidate on the Reform Party ballot in California (and nowhere...

Vilify This

When Big Tobacco agreed to pay out hundreds of billions of dollars in a settlement two years ago, it looked like the public interest finally had the upper hand. More than 99 percent of the $206 billion settlement went to 46 states to spend however they saw fit (some on antismoking efforts and much more on everything from debt reduction and college scholarships to road repairs and water mains). And 1 percent of the money ($1.5 billion) was earmarked for a national antismoking program run by the newly constituted American Legacy Foundation. One percent is not much, but $1.5 billion still makes it the biggest antismoking campaign ever. The question is what approach to deploy for the campaign. There is the obvious smoking-is-bad-for-you approach, but its being bad for you is a large part of what makes it a popular expression of teenage rebellion. There's the smoking-is-not-cool approach, but it's hard to reverse decades of...

Carolina's Company: The Slave Legacy Controversy in New England

Work Cited: Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780-1860 by Joanne Pope Melish George W. Bush and John McCain may be counting down the days until the South Carolina primary, relieved that soon reporters will quit pestering them about that Confederate flag-flying issue. But this could just be the beginning. Rhode Island's primary is coming up March 7. Or shall we say Rhode Island and Providence Plantations' primary? This tiny state's real name has launched New England's own slave legacy controversy. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations gets its moniker from the days when Roger Williams was still alive and a plantation was any farm or settlement -- not necessarily a pastoral prison for slaves. But in solidarity with the recent movement to get the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina Statehouse, Reverend Virgil Wood of the Ministers' Alliance of Rhode Island is trying to officially...

Justice Brennan Prevails

Frank I. Michelman's Brennan and Democracy 01.03.00 | reviewed by Jeremy Derfner Frank I. Michelman is a political theorist with a problem. He believes in democracy-all the people deciding for themselves how they will be governed. He also believes in the Consti tution, a 200-year-old document that sets down the fundamental rules of governance, "a law of law making," as Michelman puts it. But how can he believe in both? How can he reconcile "the paradox of constitutional democracy," whereby a democratic society puts so much faith in its foundational principles, which are for the most part removed from the democratic political process? To compound his problem, Michelman also has boundless respect for former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who for 30 years brought his moral sensibili ties to bear on the Constitution and came to personify the "activist" judge. Now Michelman's democracy is bound by what one man says about one document that nobody alive...

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