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

Putting Down Netroots

I have to take issue with my friend Scott Winship's article making the case that "the netroots" are about ideology -- lefty ideology -- rather than about pragmatically building the Democratic Party. I should say, I've been a pretty strong advocate of the alternative view. I think the most remarkable and distinctive thing about the new generation of activists, whether described as readers of liberal websites or strong supporters of, say, Ned Lamont, is that they have a strong sense of the Democratic Party -- what it is, and what it should mean. That's a very big deal. Perhaps it's part of the generational discussion that's been going on recently , but those of us who are, as Matt Stoller generously puts it, "in [our] thirties and above" do remember a time when left ideology was about spitting on the institutional Democratic Party, ignoring it, treating it as a corporate tool, and at best, trying to pressure “the political class” from outside. Those days are gone. Now there is a...

It Takes a Movement

If the current revival of progressive politics were the civil-rights movement, the role of Rosa Parks would be played by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Every child in America learns each February the story of how Parks one day decided that she just wasn't going to take it any more and refused to move to the back of the bus. And from that spontaneous act of courage, the civil-rights revolution was born. But behind Parks, there was a movement that kids never hear about. There was her summer spent studying nonviolent resistance at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, and the many people organized and ready to support the first person in Montgomery to defy segregation. Americans prefer stories of courageous individuals, forgetting the movements that make such courage possible. Which returns us to Schweitzer. For a governor in his second year running the seventh least-populous state, Schweitzer cuts a large national figure compared to other successful red-state Democratic governors...

Parliament Lament

Suppose that you wanted to find a list of the 30 or 40 Republican members of Congress most vulnerable to defeat this fall (and assume that you couldn't afford the Cook Political Report ). Here's an easy trick: Take a particularly egregious piece of legislation passed by the House, then look at the Republicans who voted against it. For example, last year the House passed Congressman Richard Pombo's bill to “modernize” (repeal) the Endangered Species Act. Thirty-four Republicans voted no. That list is virtually identical to any list of Northeast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Republican incumbents considered vulnerable this year. If there is a voter backlash against the GOP this November, it will be aimed at the far-right Republicans who've been running the party. But, like a quail-hunting Dick Cheney, it will instead take out an unintended target -- the so-called “moderate” Republicans who are somewhat pro-environment, more or less pro-choice, and sometimes labor-friendly leftovers of...

The Labour Soap Opera

London is a place where Thomas Frank's famous book bears the title What's the Matter with America? , thus extending the indictment to the whole nation, and where a small American child is required to affirm that she hates George W. Bush before she can join English tykes on the jungle gym. Even so, the principal obsession is no longer the subservience of Tony Blair to Bush, but a much older soap opera, now entering its dreary tenth season: Blair versus Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer and his long-anticipated successor as leader of the Labour Party and, presumptively, prime minister. Blair versus Brown descended into real ugliness during my visit there in April, with Blair's partisans (called “madmen” by Brown's) accusing Brown of subtly trying to sabotage Labour's chances in local elections May 4, and Brown's partisans suggesting that Blair was again reneging on “The Deal” made when both men were young -- that Blair would go first, lead “New Labour” to victory, and eventually...

Big Bad John

Let me begin by admitting that if fortune decrees that the next president of the United States must be another conservative Republican, I'd certainly rather it be John McCain than George Allen, Tom Tancredo, Newt Gingrich, or most of the other current right-wing heartthrobs. But have no illusions: McCain is a very conservative Republican who has now embarked on the project of reaffirming his position as the rightful heir to Barry Goldwater's politics as well as his Senate seat. Last month, for example, McCain voted to extend the very tax cuts that he had once voted against, a move that tax-cut strategist Larry Hunter correctly described to The Washington Times as “a further morphing of McCain into George W. Bush.” So, with this homecoming, we bring to an end one of the most fascinating eras in American politics: the five years during which McCain, with the help of an adoring press, essentially defined and controlled the concept of “bipartisanship.” Consider that there have been two...

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