John Judis

John B. Judis is an editor at large at Talking Points Memo and the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.

Recent Articles

Sneak Preview

W ant to know how the Democrats will do in 2002--and whether President Bush will win re-election in 2004? For a reliable prediction, watch Virginia in the fall. The state's off-year elections have for the last three decades foreshadowed the political trends that shape American politics. This November's gubernatorial election will be a test of how solid the Republican South really is, and could provide a preview of the 2004 presidential contest. The race pits New Democrat Mark Warner against Republican Attorney General Mark Earley, a "compassionate conservative." One of the main issues will be whether Virginians have really benefited from the massive tax cut adopted by the last Republican administration. And the principal battleground for voter support will be the large swath of suburbia that stretches from northern Virginia down the coast to Norfolk and comprises about 60 percent of the electorate. Virginia was once the capital of the Confederacy, and for almost 100 years its mainly...

Coming Attractions

R epublican strategists have been quick to dismiss the significance of the Democratic victories during this November's elections. Republican pollster Whit Ayres declared that they "tell us almost nothing about the likely election outcomes a year from now." But the off-year gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia--held in the first year of a new president's term--usually tell us a great deal about where American politics is headed. For four decades, elections in New Jersey and Virginia have accurately registered changes in the relative national strength of the two major parties. In 1989, for instance, Democrats swept the two states, foreshadowing the Democrats' victories in 1992. In 1993 Republicans won both states, presaging the Republican triumph in the 1994 congressional elections. This year Republican candidates were supposed to benefit from George W. Bush's popularity after the September 11 terrorist attacks. But solid Democratic victories in both states may foretell...

Beyond McPopulism

Can Clinton Put People First?

T he populist movement lasted barely two decades, disappearing by the turn of the last century. Yet the movement's themes have continued to esonate in American politics. Politicians with sharply divergent agendas-- from Jimmy Carter and dRonald Reagan to Jack Kemp and Tom Harkin-- have evoked the legacy of populism. Bill Clinton called his campaign platform "Putting People First" and accepted the Democratic nomination "in the name of all those who do the work, pay the taxes, raise the kids and play by the rules." Once in office, he has continued to sound populist notes, warning that his economic program would take aim at the "privileged elite." Populist themes have persisted over the century because they mesh contemporary political concerns with the historic American dream of yeoman democracy. Populism was the first attempt to pose this Jeffersonian and Jacksonian vision of America against the encroaching reality of corporate, industrial, urban capitalism. As a political movement,...

Razing McCain

In South Carolina, the National Right to Life Committee ran radio ads bludgeoning Arizona Senator John McCain. "If you want a strongly pro-life president," the ads said, "don't support John McCain." But McCain has never voted for abortion and until this election has always been known as a pro-life senator. Why the attack ad? The reason is that McCain has sponsored campaign finance reform, which the National Right to Life Committee adamantly opposes. But instead of criticizing McCain for backing a measure that is popular, even among many Republican voters, the committee has portrayed him as being the patron saint of baby killers. The committee, of course, denies this tactic, but if you look at its Web site and click on its position on campaign finance reform, you won't find articles defending soft money; you'll find criticisms of McCain's position on abortion. Join the conversation! Discuss this article in Political Prospects , part of The American Prospect's Online Forums . In...

Below the Beltway: New Labor, New Democrats -- New Alliance?

Washington, D.C. On April 27, Al From, the president of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), and Will Marshall, the president of the DLC's Progressive Policy Institute, had lunch with John Swee ney, the president, and Steve Rosenthal, the political director, of the AFL-CIO. These four people had met but had never talked amicably or seriously together before. Since that luncheon, there have been further discussions on the phone, and From and Marshall have met with the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association. When I talked to Marshall in June, he was on his way to Montreal to speak at the executive committee of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Nothing may come of these discussions and meetings. They may be comparable to the interlude between the Napoleonic Wars. But they do represent a significant shift in the DLC's politics that could have positive repercussions in the Democratic Party. Since the DLC's founding in 1985, the...

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