Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Recent Articles

How Doug Jones Won and the Takeaway for Democrats

What progressives need to do to retake Congress

AP Photo/John Bazemore Senator-elect Doug Jones is greeted by a supporter before speaking during an election-night watch party in Birmingham I n his victory speech Tuesday night, Doug Jones made sure to wish his Jewish supporters a “Happy Hanukkah.” His stunning victory over Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama coincided with the first night of what Jews call the Festival of Lights. The holiday celebrates the Jews’ triumph over a tyrant king and the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. As the story goes, they only had enough oil to light the temple’s lamp for one day, but the oil lasted a full eight days. During the holiday, Jews play with a four-sided spinning top called a dreidel, whose Hebrew letters represent the saying, “A great miracle happened there.” Many voters and pundits think that a great miracle happened in Alabama on Tuesday. Who can blame them? Jones is the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race in Alabama in 25 years. Even a month ago, a Jones victory...

Trump vs. Warren

The president aims to discredit the Bay State Democrat as a possible 2020 rival.

Alex Edelman/CNP/MediaPunch/IPX
Alex Edelman/CNP/MediaPunch/IPX Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during a rally against President Donald Trump's proposed tax plan outside the United States Capitol P resident Trump on Monday referred to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as “Pocahontas” at an event honoring Native Americans who helped the U.S. Marine Corps develop a secret code during World War II. "You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said, “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.” This was not the first time that Trump referred to Warren by that derisive nickname. He’s repeatedly called her “Pocahontas” to make fun of her claim of Native American heritage. Trump clearly sees Warren as a rival—a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2020 whose populist message and up-from-adversity life story could threaten Trump’s re-election chances. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s...

Most Americans Are Liberal, Even If They Don’t Know It

Don’t believe it? Check out these polls. 

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman) Jeff Ploussard waves an American flag during a rally protesting the NRA's annual convention in Atlanta on April 29, 2017. W e are in the midst of what many pundits call the “Trump era,” but in fact most Americans neither like nor agree with President Trump, as Tuesday’s election results strongly suggest. Since June, Trump’s job approval ratings have hovered between 33 percent and 40 percent, according to the Gallup poll. This is lower than any other president’s approval rating at this point in his presidency. Nine months into the “Trump era”, 65 percent of Americans say he has accomplished “not much” or “little or nothing,” according to a Washington Post -ABC News survey. A national poll conducted in October asked Americans to name the first word that comes to mind when they think of Trump. The most popular words were “strong,” “determined,” and “bold,” followed closely by “arrogant,” “egocentric,” and “narcissist.” The next most popular words were “...

Americans Agree That Trump Is a Liar. Do They Realize He Is Also a Sociopath?

Mainstream media have no problem calling out Trump’s falsehoods. But they need to do more.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh President Donald Trump sits for a radio interview in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. D onald Trump has said so many despicable things over the past few decades, especially since he entered politics, that it is hard to choose his most contemptible remark. But two of Trump’s recent comments, one falsely criticizing President Obama for failing to console families of fallen soldiers, and the other, making an unwittingly callous call to the widow of a fallen American soldier in an effort to score political points, surely rank among his most appalling. Trump’s remarks, and the resulting news media coverage, reveals as much about evolving journalistic norms as it does about the president’s mental health. Since Trump’s election, Americans have seen a dramatic shift in the way the news media cover a president. They have been more willing to call out his never-ending falsehoods. Rather than simply report what Trump says, or balance his comments with remarks from...

Athletes and Activism

American athletes have used their celebrity to spotlight injustices, but the NFL protests may be the largest in professional sports history. Still, there’s more they can do to challenge Trump and his allies. 

(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)
(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File) Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the national anthem before their game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017. I f #BlackLivesMatter encapsulated a burgeoning protest movement against police abuse, #TakeAKnee took those protests to a new level this week as NFL players responded to President Trump’s attack on athletes who dare to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest against injustice. Aside from professional athletes forming labor unions and going on strike to improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions, the current national anthem protests may be the largest collective dissent in the modern history of professional or collegiate sports. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the protests last year by kneeling to display his opposition to police killings of African Americans. This year, only a few players took a knee during the preseason games or in early regular season games. But another Trump...

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