Ruy Teixeira

Ruy Teixeira is a senior fellow and co-director of the Progressive Studies Program at the Center for American Progress.

Recent Articles

Is the Big-Business Era Over?

I t may be true that the era of big government being over is over, as conservative Christopher Caldwell has argued, done in by President Bush's reluctance to challenge popular spending programs. But it may also be true that the era of big business being over has just begun. By that, I don't mean that people are ready to storm the barricades and hang the assorted CEOs (though I suppose there might be a hanging-in-effigy here or there). What's happening is much more serious: the loss of a secular faith. Once the public believed that big business, while guilty of occasional excesses, could more or less be trusted, and that its activities were the chief source of social wealth and progress. Because of this, they let the dynamic duo of big business and the market do their thing: If government tried to get in the way, it would just do more harm than good. That was the era of big business; now it's done. The seemingly endless wave of corporate scandals and the collapsing stock market have...

Politics for Democrats

P ity the poor Democrats. They thought they had discovered the perfect issue: "fiscal discipline." By draping themselves in the mantle of fiscal rectitude, Democrats discovered they could oppose tax cuts without advocating any specific government spending -- thereby avoiding both the potentially controversial nature of any new outlay and the generic "Big Spender" label (as in "Democrats who just want to spend the taxpayers' money instead of letting them have some of it back"). Even better, with the invention of the "Social Security lockbox" -- which would wall off surplus revenues coming into the Social Security trust fund from the rest of the budget -- it became possible to present fiscal discipline as a way of protecting the very popular Social Security program from "raids" by tax cut-loving Republicans. Fiscal discipline, it seemed, could be the Democrats' political Holy Grail. Never mind, of course, that protecting Social Security in this fashion does nothing to make the program...

The Poll Truth

O ver the last few months, the public's attention has shifted dramatically from a single-minded focus on combating terrorism to concerns about the ailing economy. That's a big and politically significant change: A bad economy almost always hurts the incumbent president's party in congressional elections. While this shift in our collective concern should mean a big advantage for the Democrats as the 2002 elections approach, you would never guess that from current press coverage. It seems instead that with President Bush's popularity so high, the press can't quite believe that politics is moving onto pro-Democratic terrain. So reporters look around for polling data that will allow them to downplay the significance of the shift toward Democratic issues. Take the front-page article by Alison Mitchell in The New York Times from the first Friday in January. In the article, which reported on Senate majority leader Tom Daschle's speech attacking Republican economic policies, Mitchell declined...

Gore's Tenuous Bond with Working Voters

A s the election goes down to the wire, it's easy to forget how dramatically the dynamics changed in August. Before the Democratic convention, most polls showed George W. Bush with a double-digit lead over Al Gore. Media discourse was dominated by a conventional wisdom about a complacent electorate that Democrats seemingly couldn't crack. Economically contented, centrist and increasingly upscale voters (symbolized by the iconic soccer mom) didn't have much interest in government programs to solve problems. This conventional wisdom fit well with the cautious approach of the early Gore campaign, which seemed more concerned about stressing its commitment to fiscal rectitude and staying the course than about fixing the holes in the new economy and standing up for little people. But that campaign gained little traction. Gore's convention speech signaled a substantial change of direction. He said, "My focus is on working families: people trying to make house payments and...

Diffident Democrats:

A recent widely noted New York Times article recounted the many difficulties that Democrats are having getting their preferred candidates to run in key races in 2002. Many prospective candidates are backing off from running because they believe that the current war against terrorism will make it too hard to run a strong campaign. The upsurge in national unity and patriotism, it is thought, will lead most voters to favor the incumbent party and look askance at challengers. Good heavens! Can't someone get these timid souls--and the Democratic Party as a whole, for that matter--to eat their Wheaties? Start with the fact that history simply does not support this interpretation. As Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., pointed out in a Times op-ed that ran not long after the original article on diffident Democrats, wartime in the twentieth century has consistently failed to produce immediate electoral benefits for the incumbent party. Consider 1918, 18 months after war was declared: Incumbent...

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