Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Our Democratic Lords

F ast track has gone to the Senate, where its passage, alas, is assured. "I don't think we stand a chance of defeating it," says one dispirited union official. Indeed, labor lobbyists aren't even focusing on the trade legislation itself, but on an expansion of assistance for displaced workers that they hope the Senate will muster enough votes for, even as fast track breezes through. But this anticipated passage is passing strange. The fast-track bill, giving the president new authority to negotiate trade deals, staggered out of the Republican-controlled House by a one-vote margin, devoid of almost any Democratic backing. Now, it has moved to Tom Daschle's Senate--the Democratic side of Capitol Hill--where, one might think, support for labor rights and environmental standards in the new global economy would be at least as great as it is in Tom DeLay's House. But it's not. Put aside, for a moment, the divisions between northern and southern Democrats, or rural and urban Democrats, or...

Bulgari Pentameter:

Lear: Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never! Pray you, undo this button: Bulgari-made, Gorgeous, surprisingly affordable, Thank you sir. Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips, Look there, look there! Dies Lear, Act V, Scene 3, improved The news that the new Fay Weldon novel has been sponsored by famed jeweler Bulgari, which offered Weldon a tidy sum for inserting 12 glowing references to its handiwork in her book, is the latest entry in the master narrative of our time: the commodification of goddam everything. (In the end, Weldon decided to set her entire novel around Bulgariana rather then merely insert the occasional breathless paean to the product.) But this isn't the first time in recent decades that the line between serious writing and commerce has been crossed. Twenty-five years ago, Esquire and Xerox announced they were jointly sponsoring retired New York Times associate editor...

Why Liberalism Fled the City ... And How It Might Come Back

The strongholds of municipal liberalism are gone; the coalition of immigrants, unionists, poor people, and neighborhoods has been replaced by alliances between tough-on-crime Republican mayors and organized business. But the seeds of a revival are there.

I f you want to view the political decay of American liberalism, look at its spawning ground—the great cities. In the late 1990s, there simply are no remaining strongholds of municipal liberalism. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino has managed to retain the policies of his predecessor Ray Flynn, the one great left-populist mayor of the Reagan-Bush years, but he has not expanded them. The tenure of San Francisco's Willie Brown has been notable only for Brown's considerable panache. And that about exhausts the list of major city mayors with pretenses to liberalism. In Chicago, the latest Mayor Daley is a cleaned-up throwback to machine politics and a close ally of downtown. In Philadelphia, Mayor Ed Rendell, a nominal Democrat, has become a champion of fiscal retrenchment. The collapse of vibrant liberal urban politics has come from two directions—the top and the base. Once, federal funds provided the resources to hold together an often unwieldy coalition. And once, the grass roots provided...

California's Progressive Mosaic

Pa Joad: Ain't you goin' with us? Casey: I'd like to. There's somethin' goin' on out there in the West, and I'd like to try and learn what it is. -- The Grapes of Wrath M ore than 60 years after John Steinbeck's Oakies headed west, California retains its power to confound--or even astound. Over the past decade, America's megastate has been transformed beyond recognition, demographically, economically, politically. The state that only yesterday gave the nation Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis's Proposition 13, and Ronald Reagan is today the nation's most reliably Democratic big state. Indeed, with its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature, and congressional delegation, California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control. California is more than just the Democrats' electoral anchor, however. Increasingly, a number of its cities are coming to look like Justice Louis Brandeis's "laboratories of democracy"--enacting minimum...

L.A. Story

T he old order still governs here; the future will not be rushed. Considering all the changes Los Angeles has gone through in just the past decade--white flight and immigrant influx, the displacement of the business elite, the rebirth of the union movement, the rise of a labor-Latino alliance--the idea that a new urban progressive coalition could officially take power this year might have been one transformation too many, one bridge too far (or, at least, too quick). Yet it almost happened--indeed, might have happened if the old order hadn't waged a disgraceful campaign to keep its hold on power. In defeating former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, a progressive Democrat, in Los Angeles's mayoral election on June 5, City Attorney James K. Hahn , a mainstream Democrat, organized one last victory for the old Los Angeles. In a city that's increasingly young and Latino, Hahn put together enough older white and black voters to prevail at the polls. Dispatching Villaraigosa...

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