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

Twenty in '20

Dreaming of 2020? Here’s how 20 potential Democratic White House contenders stack up.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images From left, Senators. Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, leave the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership elections in the Capitol, November 16, 2016. E ven as Democrats brace themselves for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation's 45th president, they are focused on 2020 and on who can help them recapture the White House. No Democrat has yet declared any interest in running for president, but the successful candidate for 2020 will have to be somebody who has a record of accomplishment, played a key leadership role in opposing Trump’s policy initiatives, can win Democratic primaries that will be dominated by liberals, turn out black, Latino, young, and low-income voters, and win back some white, working-class, swing-state voters who voted for Trump. One has to assume that the next Democratic candidate will by facing off with Trump, but it is possible that he won't want to run again or that he will be dethroned...

One Is a Great Man. The Other Is the President-Elect.

On John Lewis and Donald Trump

(Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey)
(Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey) Representative John Lewis poses in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library on November 18, 2016. T here may be no two Americans more different—in background, temperament, and career—than Donald Trump and John Lewis. Their viral paths crossed last week after Lewis—a civil rights icon and a congressman from Atlanta—said in an NBC interview on Friday that “I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president.” The next day, Trump responded over Twitter, saying Lewis was “All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad.” Trump’s comments sparked controversy in part because the exchange occurred on Martin Luther King Day weekend. Trump might have been shocked by the uproar stirred by his tantrum, including demands by people across the ideological and partisan spectrum that he apologize to Lewis. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that Trump had no idea he was attacking one of the most admired figures in American history—one whose entire life...

Denzel Washington Brings August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ to the Screen

New film captures playwright’s iconic family drama about race, community, and baseball

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Actor Denzel Washington attends a special screening of Fences , at Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, on Monday, December 19, 2016, in New York. T he film version of August Wilson’s play Fences —a stunning slice-of-life drama that illuminates large issues of race, family, and work—links the story of one family with civil rights history and the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the film takes place. It is 1957, and the film’s protagonist, Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), owns a small, run-down house with a tiny backyard in the Hill District, the heart of Pittsburgh’s black community, where he lives with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their 17-year-old son, Cory (Jovan Adepo). Troy is 53 and earns $74 a week ($32,000 a year in today’s dollars) as a garbage collector, which he dutifully hands over to Rose every Friday. Though he lives paycheck to paycheck—and can’t even afford $200 to buy a television or $234 to fix the roof—...

The Professor Watchlist Gets an F for Accuracy

It’s easy to laugh at the error-riddled attacks on professors now being circulated on a new right-wing website, but such propaganda campaigns foreshadow more serious assaults on the First Amendment under a President Trump.

jeenamoolstudio/Shutterstock
jeenamoolstudio/Shutterstock I 'm one of the roughly 200 professors listed on the Professor Watchlist , which claims to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students.” It was launched on November 21, two weeks after Donald Trump was elected president. It is sponsored by a right-wing group called Turning Point USA and run by a 22-year-old conservative named Charlie Kirk. The website is getting a lot of attention in both the mainstream and right-wing media. None of the stories about it so far have sought to identify where its funding comes from or who is really behind it. Mainstream news outlets, like The New York Times , have reported about it as a controversial group that might threaten free speech. Fox News, the Daily Caller , and other parts of the right-wing echo chamber celebrate it as a useful tool for exposing the allegedly “liberal” atmosphere on college campuses. If the Professor Watchlist were a research paper, I'd give it an F. Much...

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