John Judis

John B. Judis is an editor at large at Talking Points Memo and the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.

Recent Articles

Not Just the Economy, Stupid

J eff Faux and his Economic Policy Institute have consistently shed light on the dark recesses of the American economy--exposing the decline of wages that accompanied the Reagan and Clinton booms and debunking the promise of an export boom with Mexico. I agree with his criticism of Clinton's trade policies. But I don't feel the same enthusiasm about Faux's political prescriptions in " A New Conversation: How to Rebuild the Democratic Party " ( TAP , No. 21, Spring 1995). Indeed, Faux's underlying political and historical premise is exactly what has crippled liberal Democratic thought since 1968. Faux's prescription for the Democrats rests on a distinction between voters' core anxieties, which he views as economic ("the decline in real wages and living standards . . . at the heart of the anger and frustration"), and social anxieties about crime, welfare, and schools that he regards as peripheral. Faux argues that because Clinton Democrats address the core economic concerns inadequately...

Embarrassment of Riches

When Vice President Al Gore promised to retire the national debt by 2013 and even to run surpluses in the case of a recession, I assumed that he was merely trying to score a political point by contrasting his own fiscal conservatism with the recklessness of rival George W. Bush's proposed tax cuts. But after reading Treasury Secretary Larry Summers's speech on the "new wealth of nations" in San Francisco (May 10) and talking to Summers himself, I've decided that Gore's statements reflect a significant change in his and the administration's economic philosophy. Gore and Summers, who is among Gore's closest advisers, now advocate running surpluses not simply as a guard against inflation in a time of full employment--the old Keynesian rationale--but as the most positive means of sustaining the current prosperity. No administration or presidential candidate has advocated this kind of fiscal policy since the Republican administrations of the 1920s. Gore and Summers's new outlook represents...

The New Politics of Abortion

I n 1980 the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and other pro-life lobbies put out a "hit list" of 18 pro-choice incumbents they aimed to topple in that fall's election, but this year NRLC Political Director Carol Tobias says the organization is not disclosing which races it will target. By contrast, NARAL, the main pro-choice lobby, posts on its Web site a list of 28 "key races" that it threatens to influence. This difference in outward strategy reflects dramatic changes in the politics of abortion. Over the past 20 years, what was once a pro-life advantage has turned into a decided edge for pro-choice candidates in presidential races and in most elections outside of the deep South and the rural Midwest. If pro-choice Democrats can draw a sharp distinction this year between their support for abortion rights and Republicans' unequivocal opposition to abortion, they will stand a good chance of retaining the White House and taking back Congress. ...

Below the Beltway: Activist Trouble

Washington, D.C. I n the last year, Greenpeace and Citizen Action, two important national left-of-center organizations, have fallen on hard times. This summer, Greenpeace USA closed down all of its field offices, eliminated its canvassing operation, and slashed its staff from 400 to 65. Several of Citizen Action's state affiliates have either disbanded or severed their ties to the national federation, while the organization's Washington office, which was implicated in the Teamster fundraising scandal, closed down in late October. Citizen Action could survive, but it is hard to imagine it regaining the kind of clout it enjoyed during the last four years. Though these organizations faltered for very different reasons, they shared a common objective: Both of them sought to overcome the destructive separation be tween politics—as practiced by politicians, political consultants, pollsters, and powerful Washington interest groups—and the mundane, largely apolitical concerns of most...

Below the Beltway: The Irresponsible Elites

Washington, D.C., March 5, 1998 A s I write, the Monica Lewinsky affair—or perhaps episode is a better term—is far from resolved, but it is possible to draw certain conclusions about the role of the press. The most important is that the barrier separating the elite media from the print and television tabloids—the Washington Post from the New York Post or Meet the Press from Hard Copy —has continued to crumble. There used to be a distinction between the kinds of stories about the president of the United States that various media would choose to run—no longer. Nor is there any longer a dramatic distinction between the kinds of proof different media outlets require before a story is printed or aired. The barrier was first clearly breached when the Miami Herald and Washington Post decided in May 1987 to investigate whether Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was committing adultery. The stories the Herald published and the Post threatened to publish (about another Hart mistress)...

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