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

“The Full Spectrum of the Republican Party”

In his victory speech Tuesday night after winning the Wisconsin primary, Senator Ted Cruz pointed to his endorsements from former GOP presidential candidates former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senator Lindsey Graham, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as proof that he has the “full spectrum of the Republican Party coming together and uniting behind this campaign.”

But what’s most striking about these political figures is how much they have in common. They differ in height, weight, charisma, and personality, but there’s hardly any distance between them when it comes to what they believe about government and public policy. On a scale of one to ten—with ten being the most reactionary—every candidate rates an eight or above.

Here’s where Cruz and those ex-rivals who now support him stand on the major issues facing the country:

·       Obamacare—against

·       Raising the minimum wage—against

·       Raising taxes on the super-rich—against

·       Overturning Citizens United—against

·       Abortion and Planned Parenthood—against

·       Same-sex marriage—against

·       President Obama’s executive actions to protect Dreamers and the parents of children who are citizens or legal permanent from deportation—against

·       Strengthening regulations on Wall Street—against

·       Tightening gun control laws—against

·       Allowing Syrian refugees to enter the U.S.—against

·       Eliminating the death penalty—against

·       Promoting green jobs—against

·       Reducing military spending—against

·       Making voter registration easier—against

·       Labor unions—against

The “full spectrum” of Cruz supporters covers an extremely narrow ideological niche that is out of sync with the vast majority of the American public.

How the Fight for 15 Won

A timeline of the events that led to California's progressive victory

(Photo: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)
(Photo: AP/Rich Pedroncelli) Supporters of California's minimum-wage increase celebrate outside the state Senate Chamber in Sacramento after the measure was approved on March 31. T he political earth has shifted. Last week’s tectonic jolt began in California, where the legislature voted Thursday to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15, the highest in the nation. The ripple effects of California’s huge victory for progressive forces are already being felt around the country. The California legislation will increase the current $10 minimum wage to $10.50 next January, then $11 the following year, and increase it by $1 annually until 2022, when it will reach $15. Thereafter, it will increase each year at the same rate as the cost of living. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, frozen in place by the Republican opposition. In response to that gridlock, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted higher minimum wages than the federal level. The hike to $...

Paul Ryan: The GOP’s Next Presidential Nominee?

The House speaker has said he’s not interested in the presidency, but he’s united his bickering party once before, and may do so again.

Rex Features via AP Images
Rex Features via AP Images House Speaker Paul Ryan at a weekly press briefing on March 3, 2016. H aving sat behind President Barack Obama during the State of Union Address in January, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters afterward that he had done his best to maintain a poker face and avoid wincing, despite his objections to much of what Obama said, out of respect for the office. But Ryan’s real expression was closer to a smirk, and it hinted at another possibility. Ryan might have been telling himself, “That could be me up there a year from now.” It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. In fact, amid a presidential primary that has broken all the rules and left the GOP at loggerheads, a Ryan nomination is not only possible— it might even be probable. Ryan has already emerged triumphant from the fray of another party fracas, when his House colleagues “drafted” him to be speaker after John Boehner resigned last fall. Similarly, if Donald Trump doesn’t arrive at the GOP convention in...

Nine Battleground States that Could Flip the Senate -- and the Supreme Court

A Democratic president needs a Democratic majority in the Senate to turn around the high court. Here are the states that could make the difference in 2016.

(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite) Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, center, will not be seeking re-election this year. The race for the open Senate seat is likely to be a close one. W ithin hours of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate should not confirm anyone whom President Barack Obama nominates to fill the vacant seat, but wait until a new president is elected. McConnell’s comment put in bold relief the huge stakes, not just of the presidential election, but of who controls the Senate. If Democrats take back the Senate as well as the White House, a Democratic president could replace not only Scalia but also fill two and possibly three other Supreme Court seats likely be vacated in the next few years. Election watchers believe that there is a reasonable chance that the Democrats can gain four seats and take back the Senate. (Republicans currently have a 54-46 Senate majority. If Democrats win...

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