Will Marshall

Will Marshall is president of the Progressive Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

Investments and Entitlements

Entitlement programs have tended to squeeze out public investment. What is there to be done about that?

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Friend or Faux?

J eff Faux's " The Myth of the New Democrats " ( TAP , Fall 1993) is illuminating--but in unintentional ways. It highlights the unresolved tension in The American Prospect 's editorial persona: though dedicated to rethinking old liberal assumptions, the magazine often shies from conclusions that defy liberal orthodoxy. TAP thus oscillates between earnest stabs at policy innovation and purse-lipped attempts to suppress heresy and enforce liberal dogma. Faux's polemic falls in the latter category. Still, a TAP cover story on the New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) represents progress of a sort. The exercise forces Faux to grapple with New Democrat ideas on their merits rather than simply dismiss them as "conservative"--a favorite tactic in the left's politics of evasion. Honest debate might even advance the cause New Democrats share with TAP : the reconstruction of contemporary liberalism as a progressive force for national purposes. Faux accuses New Democrats of...

Liberal Loss or Progressive Mandate?

T he postmortems on the Democrats' 2000 election campaign have focused on Bill Clinton's "moral drag" on the Democratic ticket and Al Gore's shortcomings as a candidate. Both played a part in the unhappy outcome, but the fixation on personalities obscures a third and probably decisive factor: the campaign's dominant themes and message. After all, Gore could not undo the Clinton scandals or undergo a personality transplant. But the failure to craft a consistent and compelling case for his candidacy can only be charged to his account. Such a case would have built upon the Clinton-Gore successes of the previous eight years. Yet instead of running on the winning New Democrat formula, the Gore campaign often looked and sounded like a throwback to the doomed Democratic campaigns of the 1980s, replete with vintage class-warfare themes and narrowly tailored appeals to constituency groups. This backsliding from reform-minded centrism to interest-group liberalism turned an election Gore should...

Controversy: Why Did Clinton Win?

Will Marshall and Mark Penn debate Robert L. Borosage and Stanley B. Greenberg.

S hortly after last November's election, two prominent Democratic pollsters offered opposite interpretations of how to read the results. Mark Penn , who emerged as President Clinton's favorite pollster working closely with strategist Dick Morris, conducted a postelection survey for the Democratic Leadership Council. Not surprisingly, Penn found that President Clinton had won because he had followed the DLC recipe. Penn wrote that "Clinton won the election because on every issue that the Republicans hoped to dominate—balancing the budget, welfare, crime, immigration, and taxes—Clinton staked out a strong centrist position early on." For example, the poll found that "88 percent of voters said they would favor President Clinton if he made a balanced budget the top priority of his second term." And "more than 85 percent of voters would favor making Social Security and Medicare reform his second priority." Fifty-seven percent of voters, according to Penn, identified Clinton as "a different...