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

Democrats Must Mobilize America’s Largest Political Party: Nonvoters

Nearly half of eligible voters did not cast a ballot on November 8, and most of them are people the Democratic Party should be targeting.

(Photo: AP/Jon Elswick)
(Photo: AP/Jon Elswick) Voters cast ballots at Oakdale Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland, on November 8, 2016. W hen all the votes are counted, it is likely that Hillary Clinton will have two million more votes than Donald Trump. Among those who voted, Clinton beat Trump by about 1.5 percentage points, a larger margin that several victorious presidential candidates, including John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968. But the Electoral College determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, so winning the popular vote is small solace for Clinton and her supporters. The first female candidate with a serious shot at winning the presidency lost most of the key battleground states she need to win. How and why did that happen? What’s missing from most mainstream analyses is that the largest political party in Tuesday’s election was the “Nonvoters Party,” a nationally known group that usually posts strong numbers in American elections. People who did not cast a ballot...

‘Loving’ Reminds Us of an Earlier Struggle for Marriage Equality

A new movie about the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized interracial marriage resonates today in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges.

(Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan/taedc)
(Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan/taedc) S hould we allow states to decide whether black Americans may marry white Americans? Today, such an idea seems absurd. Most Americans believe that states shouldn't be permitted to trample on the basic right of interracial couples to marry. It would be unfair—a clear violation of civil rights. But in 1958, when half the states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage, 94 percent of Americans opposed marriage between blacks and whites. Even by 1967, almost three-quarters—72 percent—of Americans still opposed interracial marriage, and 16 states still had such laws on the books. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down those state anti-miscegenation laws, placing it far ahead of public opinion. At the time, Southern racists used “states’ rights” as the justification to defend Jim Crow laws, including school segregation, racial discrimination in restaurants and on buses, severe limits on voting by African Americans, as well as bans on...

Making the Most of Your Luck

The role of sheer fortune challenges the politics of the fortunate—and the conceits of economics. 

Library of Congress
Library of Congress/Public Domain Mink Brigade: Labor activist Flora Dodge La Follette (center) and social reformer Rose Livingston (right) stand in solidarity with a young worker during a 1913 garment strike in New York City. These women are part of America's long tradition of wealthy radicals. Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good By Chuck Collins Chelsea Green Publishing Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy By Robert H. Frank Princeton University Press This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . C huck Collins is a traitor to his class and proud of it. The great-grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer, he grew up in affluent Bloomfield Hills outside Detroit, went to the same elite Cranbrook School as Mitt Romney, and enjoyed the entitlements that come with inherited wealth. But his parents made sure that Collins...

Mourn. Then Organize.

This nation has survived political crises before, and it will again if progressives refrain from pointing fingers and start organizing.

Molly Riley/AP Images for AVAAZ
Molly Riley/AP Images for AVAAZ Members of the global civic movement Avaaz gather outside the White House on election night to protest against bigotry, Tuesday November 8, 2016 in Washington, D.C. A t a time like this, many liberals and progressives will recall the words of labor activist Joe Hill: “Don't mourn, organize.” But let's be honest. We're in shock. We need time to mourn. To recover from the trauma of this election. I feel awful for my 19-year-old twin daughters, who voted for the first time this year and now have to spend their college years with Trump as president. They're upset. They talked about moving to Canada. They were half serious. We talked and texted all night, trying to console ourselves. It was tough. I reminded them that we've been through periods like this before. The Civil War. The Gilded Age. The Great Depression. I told them that in 1968, when I was 20, America elected Richard Nixon. At the time, we thought that this was the apocalypse. I had worked for...

Can New CEO Tim Sloan Fix Scandal-Plagued Wells Fargo’s Corporate Culture?

Tim Sloan has replaced John Stumpf as Wells Fargo’s New CEO, but some wonder whether such a longtime insider can really change the bank’s culture of customers and employee abuse.

AP Photo/Richard Drew
AP Photo/Richard Drew Wells Fargo Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy J. Sloan is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, November 13, 2013. S candal-plagued Wells Fargo’s recent selection of long-time bank insider Tim Sloan to replace John Stumpf as its CEO has done little to mollify critics, given Sloan’s central management role during more than a decade of consumer and community complaints. Sloan has largely escaped scrutiny during the thumping Wells Fargo has taken from Congress, the media, and bank reform activists for boosting its own stock price by secretly creating more than two million unauthorized checking and credit-card accounts. As lawmakers and state and federal regulators line up to investigate the bank following Stumpf’s resignation, Sloan now replaces him on the hot seat. Sloan’s role as a member of the bank’s inner circle at a time when Wells Fargo stood accused of reckless and discriminatory practices is...

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