Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Recent Articles

Why Trump Picked Ben Carson as HUD Secretary

Donald Trump’s “edifice complex” explains his ill-advised choice of the completely inexperienced Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez Ben Carson speaks during a town hall meeting Sunday, February 21, 2016, in Reno, Nevada. W hy would Donald Trump appoint the uniquely unqualified Ben Carson to run the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development? If the Senate approves the neurosurgeon’s nomination, he will run an agency with a $47 billion budget that oversees federal rental assistance programs serving more than five million of the country's lowest-income households. The largest of these is the housing choice voucher program (formerly known as Section 8), which helps low-income families rent apartments in the private market. HUD also oversees a million units of public housing run by local governments, administers $5 billion in community development funds, insures the mortgages of more than one-fifth of all homeowners, and enforces fair housing laws that bar racial discrimination by lenders and landlords. Carson has no experience with any of these programs—nor any experience in...

Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary

Trump’s appointee is the very model of a predatory lender.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Steven Mnuchin, national finance chairman of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, November 21, 2016 in New York, to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. T hroughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation . “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul—and, since May, his campaign-finance chair—to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury. Trump’s earlier rhetoric aside, it’s actually a good match. Both Trump and Mnuchin earned their first fortunes the old fashion way: They inherited them. Trump took over his father Fred’s real-estate empire and expanded it through...

Democrats Must Mobilize America’s Largest Political Party: Nonvoters

Nearly half of eligible voters did not cast a ballot on November 8, and most of them are people the Democratic Party should be targeting.

(Photo: AP/Jon Elswick)
(Photo: AP/Jon Elswick) Voters cast ballots at Oakdale Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland, on November 8, 2016. W hen all the votes are counted, it is likely that Hillary Clinton will have two million more votes than Donald Trump. Among those who voted, Clinton beat Trump by about 1.5 percentage points, a larger margin that several victorious presidential candidates, including John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968. But the Electoral College determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, so winning the popular vote is small solace for Clinton and her supporters. The first female candidate with a serious shot at winning the presidency lost most of the key battleground states she need to win. How and why did that happen? What’s missing from most mainstream analyses is that the largest political party in Tuesday’s election was the “Nonvoters Party,” a nationally known group that usually posts strong numbers in American elections. People who did not cast a ballot...

‘Loving’ Reminds Us of an Earlier Struggle for Marriage Equality

A new movie about the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized interracial marriage resonates today in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges.

(Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan/taedc)
(Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan/taedc) S hould we allow states to decide whether black Americans may marry white Americans? Today, such an idea seems absurd. Most Americans believe that states shouldn't be permitted to trample on the basic right of interracial couples to marry. It would be unfair—a clear violation of civil rights. But in 1958, when half the states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage, 94 percent of Americans opposed marriage between blacks and whites. Even by 1967, almost three-quarters—72 percent—of Americans still opposed interracial marriage, and 16 states still had such laws on the books. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down those state anti-miscegenation laws, placing it far ahead of public opinion. At the time, Southern racists used “states’ rights” as the justification to defend Jim Crow laws, including school segregation, racial discrimination in restaurants and on buses, severe limits on voting by African Americans, as well as bans on...

Making the Most of Your Luck

The role of sheer fortune challenges the politics of the fortunate—and the conceits of economics. 

Library of Congress
Library of Congress/Public Domain Mink Brigade: Labor activist Flora Dodge La Follette (center) and social reformer Rose Livingston (right) stand in solidarity with a young worker during a 1913 garment strike in New York City. These women are part of America's long tradition of wealthy radicals. Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good By Chuck Collins Chelsea Green Publishing Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy By Robert H. Frank Princeton University Press This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . C huck Collins is a traitor to his class and proud of it. The great-grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer, he grew up in affluent Bloomfield Hills outside Detroit, went to the same elite Cranbrook School as Mitt Romney, and enjoyed the entitlements that come with inherited wealth. But his parents made sure that Collins...

Pages