Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He writes columns for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe and the New York Times international edition. 

Recent Articles

An Uncertain Trumpet

Whatever pundits say, this election was not a wholesale repudiation of liberalism.

Were the Democrats repudiated as too left wing for the country, especially on cultural issues? Or were they mainly outplayed? Depending on what one concludes, dramatically different remedies follow. In fact, the country was split almost evenly, as in 2000. Democrats would make a grave mistake to take 2004 as a wholesale repudiation. Rather, John Kerry lost the election and Democrats lost ground for four distinct reasons. First, the Republicans enjoy a structural advantage. As a party they are better financed, more disciplined and strategic, and willing to play far dirtier. They also benefit from captive broadcast media (FOX, Rush Limbaugh, et al.) and docile mainstream media. Once, the press gave itself permission to conclude in hard news stories that Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton lied to the American people. George W. Bush also lied, but the major dailies and networks would not say so. Second, the Republicans shamelessly used September 11. Despite the palpable lies...

Attacking American Tolerance

Back in the 1950s, political scientists celebrated America for its "pluralism." That meant people had multiple, cross-cutting identities. Maybe you were a Catholic and also a trade unionist, a sport fisherman, a member of a veterans group, and an engaged PTA parent in a multi-ethnic neighborhood. No single identity absolutely defined you. Why was this special? Because it created multiple, overlapping communities and prevented the cultural or political absolutism that plagued most societies. It wove tolerance and political suppleness into the fabric of American democracy. People with multiple affiliations could vote for Roosevelt one year and Eisenhower another and not hate neighbors for their party identities. Indeed, when the philanthropist George Soros set out to undermine communism by stealth in Eastern Europe, he began by subsidizing innocent-seeming voluntary associations of the sort for which Americans are famous in order to quietly break the regime's stranglehold on...

Let's Move On

President Bush should enjoy his victory celebration while he can. He will soon face the most determined antiwar movement since the 1960s. The Iraq situation is becoming more and more reminiscent of the Vietnam disaster. American troops mostly stay in heavily fortified barracks. When they do venture out, their sweeps don't achieve durable pacification. Militants and young men of fighting age are long gone by the time American bombardments start. The Iraqi casualties include women, children and old people, and the American casualties keep mounting. After the U.S. troops move out of an area, they leave in their wake new sympathizers and recruits for the insurgents. And the provisional Iraqi government is even less capable of maintaining order than its Vietnamese counterpart was. It was Howard Dean's antiwar campaign last year that infused energy into rank-and-file Democrats. Antiwar sentiment among Democrats has been kept politely under wraps pending Election Day, but it hasn't gone away...

Flu-Shot Fiasco

This winter, about five times more people will die for lack of flu vaccine as died on September 11. Flu kills tens of thousands of people each year. Without vaccine, some 15,000 elderly Americans will needlessly die. The 9-11 disaster caused President Bush to turn our foreign policy and our Bill of Rights upside down. The flu disaster has barely gotten his attention. Both are the result of failed presidential leadership. There have been so many revelations about presidential ineptitude on so many fronts in the past week that the flu story already seems like yesterday's news. But in fact it is tomorrow's news. There could be a much bigger flu crisis next year as the next menace, avian flu, spreads. Unlike the typical winter flu, which is not fatal in most people, avian flu (which begins in birds) is easily transmitted from person to person and is usually fatal. So far, it hasn't hit the United States, but it could be the public health nightmare experts have long feared. Here's the...

The Art of Stealing Elections

The Republicans are out to steal the 2004 election -- before, during, and after Election Day. Before Election Day, they are employing such dirty tricks as improper purges of voter rolls, use of dummy registration groups that tear up Democratic registrations, and the suppression of Democratic efforts to sign up voters, especially blacks and students. On Election Day, Republicans will attempt to intimidate minority voters by having poll watchers threaten criminal prosecution if something is technically amiss with their ID, and they will again use technical mishaps to partisan advantage. But the most serious assault on democracy itself is likely to come after Election Day. Here is a flat prediction: If neither candidate wins decisively, the Bush campaign will contrive enough court challenges in enough states so that we won't know the winner election night. The right stumbled on a gambit in 2000, which could become standard operating procedure in close elections: If the election ends up...

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