Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. 

Recent Articles

Tom Hayden Always Rocked The Boat

An appreciation of the legendary political activist.

AP Photo / The Ann Arbor News, Patrick Record
In 2013, Tom Hayden—who died on Sunday at 76 from complications related to a stroke he suffered a year-and-a-half ago while investigating fracking and oil drilling in California—donated his archives to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. The 120 boxes of material include more than 22,000 pages of his FBI files, the result of the agency’s 15-year surveillance of Hayden. Historians and journalists will mine this treasure trove of documents to learn about the key movements and personalities in American culture and politics since the early 1960s. Throughout his remarkable career, Hayden was both a prophetic voice and a political strategist, a rare combination. No single figure embodied the spirit of the generation that came of age in the 1960s more than Hayden. As the author of The Port Huron Statement —the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which called for a new grassroots movement against segregation, poverty, and war—...

Trump No Longer Really Running for President

The Donald’s real political goal is to make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to govern.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
If it wasn't clear before Wednesday night's debate, it should be obvious now that Donald Trump is no longer seriously running for president. He is using his campaign to become the leader of what he calls “our movement”—a white supremacist, nativist, and nationalist crusade—to boost his ego, settle scores (including with many Republicans), and make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to govern. He intends to become America's first celebrity demagogue. For at least the past month, Trump had realized that he is going to lose the race for president on November 8. Indeed, every day, it looks more and more likely that Clinton will beat him by landslide margins in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. If he were still running for president, and trying to win 270 Electoral College votes, Trump would be appealing to swing voters in battleground states. But during his performances in all three debates—as well as in his speeches at Trump rallies since the...

A Century of Anti-Abortion Attacks

One hundred years after Margaret Sanger opened the nation’s first birth-control clinic, Republicans are still attacking Planned Parenthood.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth-control clinic 100 years ago this week, on October 16, 1916. In her time, Sanger was a controversial figure, even among feminists, and she often ran afoul of the law in her quest to promote women’s health and birth control. She remains a subject of contention because anti-abortion activists and Republican candidates, including Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, have escalated their attacks on her and on Planned Parenthood, the organization she founded. But Sanger’s pioneering work has been heralded by women’s rights activists in this country and around the world. In a speech last week at Virginia’s Liberty University, Pence—a fervent abortion foe—said: “A Trump-Pence administration will defund Planned Parenthood and redirect those dollars to women’s health care that doesn’t provide abortion services.” Pence added that he longs “to see the day that Roe v...

The Cubs, Cars, Cat Stevens, Consumers, and Capitalism

A new car ad evokes our contentious political climate and exploits a classic protest song to sell Jeep Grand Cherokees.

Radu Bercan/Shutterstock
It is unlikely that the late Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a baseball fan. But had he been watching Friday's Chicago Cubs-San Francisco Giants game, he would probably have had a lot to say about the new one-minute Jeep Grand Cherokee commercial featuring Cat Stevens' song, “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out,” that was broadcast between innings. In his 1964 book, One Dimensional Man , Marcuse (who taught at Brandeis University and the University of California at San Diego) explored how capitalism seeks to co-opt radical ideas for commercial purposes and turn them into commodities to promote consumer culture and corporate profit. The new commercial for the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a perfect illustration of Marcuse's point. Created by the McGarryBowen advertising agency, and entitled “Free to Be,” it is a brilliant and disturbing ad designed to exploit our current political and cultural moment, even making an overt reference to the current...

Trump Mega-Donor Geoff Palmer Is Also LA’s Most Controversial Developer

Real-estate developer Geoff Palmer has a lot in common with Donald Trump, including a controversial record of lawsuits and real estate dealings that invariably put the wealthy first.

AP Photo/Nick Ut
Los Angeles real estate developer Geoff Palmer has emerged as one of Donald Trump’s biggest sugar daddies. Well known in Los Angeles for his ostentatious luxury apartment complexes, as well as his opposition to affordable housing, Palmer contributed $2 million in June to the pro-Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now. Palmer and Trump have much in common. Both grew up in wealthy families. Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was a big-time developer of middle-class apartment complexes in New York. Palmer’s dad, Daniel Saxon Palmer , was a prominent Los Angeles architect who designed modernist tract homes for the region’s booming postwar suburbs. Both sons have family secrets that shaped their careers and their identities. The elder Trump was once arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927. (He and Donald were later charged by the federal government for violating anti-discrimination laws for banning black tenants in his apartments). The elder Palmer was born Dan...