Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

Comment: Civics as Politics

V oting turnout is very likely to decline again this year. Some of the decline reflects the fact that both candidates are widely seen as boring. But dwindling voter interest also represents a long-term trend. In this issue of the Prospect , "Rousing the Democratic Base" by Robert Dreyfuss underscores what political scientists have long observed: The mobilization of voters is not a generic civic process but rather the work of engaged political organizations committed to a particular viewpoint and candidate. In this case, the labor movement and the NAACP are working hard to get out the vote, presumably for the Democrats and Al Gore. If Gore should win, it will not be because working- and middle-class voters suddenly grasped the value of Gore's program, but because activist groups took the trouble to organize prospective Gore supporters. Oddities of our tax laws and campaign finance system do not quite require these worthy groups to...

Of Our Time: A Liberal Dunkirk?

H as the Clinton presidency been a grave setback for liberalism? Or a necessary, if wrenching, re-centering? We have debated this question in our pages, and historians will long argue the issue. One must await the results of the 1996 election to provide a more complete answer. However, here is a look at both sides of the argument and a tentative verdict. Modern liberalism has been a twofold enterprise. First, it has entailed the expansion of individual rights, social inclusion, and political participation. Second, it has used the state, through both government regulation and public spending, to temper the extremes and instabilities of the private market. When the public is in a liberal mood, the polity is rendered more inclusive; and government gains expanded authority to discipline the market-a nice marriage of politics, government, and political economy. By these tests, Clinton has failed to consolidate past liberal gains, let alone expand them. He has stemmed the slide to the right...

Beyond The Spin, Deep Differences

After one of the emptiest political conventions on record, the stage is actually set for a very consequential November election. Though the Republicans did their best to camouflage it,theirs remains a highly conservative program. There really are enormous differences of substance between the two major candidates. If the election can be made to turn on issues, it probably cuts in Al Gore's favor. If it turns on atmospherics and personality, the winner will likely be George W. So all eyes now shift to Gore: Can he rouse the electorate to focus on issues? Can he rouse himself to be a plausible messenger? And can the voters grow up? Watching the Republican National Convention, it was difficult to believe the atmospherics fooled anybody. Writing in The New York Times, editorialist Brent Staples referred to the over-representation of black and brown symbols at a mostly white party as Minstrelsy. The real divisions within the GOP over issues such as...

What Makes People Think Bush Has Won?

''Politics ain't beanbag'' -- Finley Peter Dunne One of the many oddities of this cliffhanger election is what might be called the entitlement gap. Right from election night, the Republicans have behaved as if the election was theirs, while Vice President Gore has temporized. This sense of Republican entitlement in turn translates into a partisan rage that if Gore should win,the election will have been stolen. But consider: It's pretty clear that more Florida voters intended to vote for Gore. At least 19,000 votes in Palm Beach County were voided because they were punched twice, reflecting voter confusion over which hole meant Gore and which one meant Buchanan. These were nearly all Gore votes. Another 3,000 or so Palm Beach voters who voted for Buchanan meant to vote for Gore. There is also the plain illegality that some 15,000 absentee ballot applications in Seminole County that should have been disqualified as incomplete were...

Two Bad Calls: The Faulty Ballots, The Bumbling Process

Americans will be asking questions about the 2000 election for some time to come. Here are two big ones: How could the world's most secure democracy have ended up with a balloting system in which millions of votes routinely get lost, miscounted, stolen, or spoiled? The premise seems to be: What the hell, it's close enough for politics. There is nothing more fundamental to a free and fair election than an accurate count. But on the way to the 21st century we belatedly realized that we're stuck with 19th-century voting technology. Actually, it's worse than that. The voting machine that recorded my ballot, using a technology invented in the 1890s, is more reliable than the punch-card technology contrived in the 1950s. Voting machines have nice, clearlevers, splendid bells to chime in the vote, and no hanging chads. The antique technology, in turn, reflects an 18th century conception of what is properly local and what is necessarily national...

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