Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt is director of the program on political reform at the New America Foundation and former executive editor of The American Prospect

 

 

Recent Articles

THE COSMOPOLITANS.

THE COSMOPOLITANS. So many things are amazing about the emerging field of presidential candidates, but here's one that hasn't gotten much attention -- just how many of the candidates are from no fixed address. Most presidents, like most Americans, are clearly the products of a single particular place, and understanding that place -- Bill Clinton 's Arkansas, Nixon 's Southern California, LBJ 's Texas -- is a big part of understanding them. But this year we have: Obviously, Barack Obama of Hawaii, Indonesia, and Chicago, with roots in Kansas and Kenya and stops in California and Cambridge. But also, Hillary Clinton , of suburban Illinois, Arkansas, and New York. And also, Mitt Romney , of Michigan, Utah, Massachusetts, plus several years of missionary work in France. And also, John McCain , born in the Panama Canal Zone, who moved to Arizona at the age of 44 and put off criticism that he was an outsider by saying, "the place I lived the longest was Hanoi." On the other hand, John...

The Limits of Limits

Our long national nightmare has just begun. There is now little doubt that the next three years will bring one revelation after another about the magnitude of congressional corruption. Democrats will relish this prospect, and “reform” will be an inevitable theme of the next two election cycles. But some political scandals lead to change, while others dominate the headlines for a year and leave no trace. Why? Some of it has to do with managing the media, but it also involves offering credible solutions. Scandals without solutions simply stoke public cynicism. And it is in just such cynical soil that the seed of corrupt big-government “conservatism” was planted. The challenge, then, is to define the solution. The first bid, from some Republicans and from overly literal Democrats, will be “lobbying reform.” Keeping lobbyists at arm's length should be a matter of personal responsibility on the part of elected officials, reinforced by clear rules. But the idea that the large-scale...

DAVID BROOKS: THE VOICE OF YOUNG AMERICA.

DAVID BROOKS: THE VOICE OF YOUNG AMERICA. I like Ben Adler 's headline, " David Brooks Does Andy Rooney..." It captures the most annoying undertone of Brooks' column on "hipster parents" (which was not totally unfunny -- let's be honest, there are parents who go too far in trying to make their kids into replicas of their own hipper selves; I confess I might have played some role in the fact that my 5-yr-old declares her favorite type of music to be "post-punk"). But when someone harrumphs like this -- I�m not against the indie/alternative lifestyle. There is nothing more reassuringly traditionalist than the counterculture. For 30 years, the music, the fashions, the poses and the urban weeklies have all been the same. Everything in this society changes except nonconformity. -- that person had better be at least 75 years old. If you have so little interest in culture that you think the 30 years from Television to the Decemberists, or from the Village Voice of the mid-70s to today's...

HEY JOE: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.

HEY JOE: DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT. Here is my plea to Senator Joe Lieberman , a politician I've admired since I was seven years old: Please switch parties. We're tired of the game where you keep dancing ever close to the edge, hoping someone will pay attention to you. Just switch. The issue of our moment is the Iraq war, the pro-war side is the Republican Party. That's your side. Don't do Harry Reid any favors -- he'll manage just fine without you. (Since writing this post, I've learned from Time that "last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again." If I'm parsing this sentence correctly, Reid agreed not to discuss Iraq at the weekly Democratic lunch -- which is absolutely the only time that all or most Democratic Senators get together for any kind of discussion -- because...

MIDDLE CLASS, OR SWING VOTERS?

MIDDLE CLASS, OR SWING VOTERS? To much fanfare, including a glowing column from David Brooks , the new report from the "strategy center for progressives" known as Third Way has arrived: The New Rules Economy: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century." expands the argument that Third Way has made elsewhere, which is mostly that the middle class is doing fine, and Democrats should stop trying to sell pessimism, and instead adopt the inspiring philosophy they call "progressive realism." The first ten pages of the report detail and reject "The Myths of Neopopulism" -- the view that the middle class is in trouble. (Incidentally, the only current "leading neopopulist" mentioned by name is TAP founder Bob Kuttner , whose comments regarding Third Way's Stephen Rose led to this TAP Online exchange .) To rebut the pessimism, "New Rules" points out such fun facts as that in 1979, only 12% of "prime-age households" (that is, singles or couples age 25-59) earned more than $100,000, today, 24% of...

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