Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

Comment: Civics as Politics

V oting turnout is very likely to decline again this year. Some of the decline reflects the fact that both candidates are widely seen as boring. But dwindling voter interest also represents a long-term trend. In this issue of the Prospect , "Rousing the Democratic Base" by Robert Dreyfuss underscores what political scientists have long observed: The mobilization of voters is not a generic civic process but rather the work of engaged political organizations committed to a particular viewpoint and candidate. In this case, the labor movement and the NAACP are working hard to get out the vote, presumably for the Democrats and Al Gore. If Gore should win, it will not be because working- and middle-class voters suddenly grasped the value of Gore's program, but because activist groups took the trouble to organize prospective Gore supporters. Oddities of our tax laws and campaign finance system do not quite require these worthy groups to...

The Two-Party System is Letting us Down

This year voting turnout could fall to a record presidential low. The decline partly reflects two dreadful candidates but also the long-term impoverishment of politics. Membership organizations have been displaced by professional fund-raisers and TV spots. The time squeeze leaves no leisure for ordinary people to go to meetings. Civic values are crowded out by entertainment, celebrity, and marketing. If the Bush-Gore show has to compete as entertainment, it loses, and so do we. But so much that affects our private lives is inherently and irrevocably political. Either we embrace political questions as a free people or decisions get made for us. And this year, most of the big questions are off the political radar screen. Start with kids. The new, 24-7 economy operates at the expense of children, especially children from families not affluent enough to buy their way out. Did you and your spouse have a spat this week about who had to juggle work...

Thank You, Al Gore

A funny thing happened to Al Gore on the way to his surprisingly effective acceptance speech. He became a liberal. The speech was as liberal as anything FDR or LBJ or Jesse Jackson or one of the Kennedys might have delivered. It was built around a commitment to fight for ordinary people, against large and powerful interests. This, of course, is precisely what made it effective. The emotional heart of the speech, Gore's honoring of four ordinary American lives, did not just salute the struggles of workaday families, the way Ronald Reagan often did. It identified who was dishonoring their struggles - corporations. He singled out heartless HMOs who pressure a family to sacrifice a child; drug companies that force a pensioner to choose between food and medicine; corporate polluters; corporations that pay workers inadequate wages. And he identified the solution: strong, reliable public Social Security; better Medicare; welfare reform that rewards work rather than punishing the needy;...

Market Turbulence Could Benefit Gore

What would a real stock market meltdown do to the economy and, not incidentally, to the presidential campaign? The market has long been poised for a correction. Internet stock expectations were outlandish. Even the broader market has been experiencing inflated ratios of stock prices to company earnings not seen since 1929. All it took for air to come out of the market were some moderate storm clouds: higher oil prices, which gave us a whiff of wider inflation; reduced corporate earnings; weakness and instability in the world's second-most-important currency, the euro; portents of war. But it would take a much worse market collapse before the real economy would be seriously affected. Consider these factors: A good deal of air has already come out of the market. The technology-heavy NASDAQ has declined from its March 2000 peak by more than 40 percent. Even if the Dow were to decline to, say, 8000, investors would still have more than...

For Many Voters a Choice About Choice

Many viewers were startled to hear George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sound kinder and gentler on the hot-button issue of abortion rights. In the first TV debate Bush seemed to declare that he would not try to overturn the FDA's decision approving the abortion drug RU-486, that he wouldn't make reversing Roe v. Wade a litmus test for judges, and that he'd seek "common ground" on the divisive issue of reproductive rights. Cheney, debating Joe Lieberman, said he'd look for ways to reach "across the divide." The stance of both Bush and Cheney seemed in sharp contrast to that of the Republican National Convention, where the platform committee ostracized prochoice Republicans and not a single abortion-rights advocate was allowed floor time. What gives? What gives is that reproductive rights groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood have mounted a phenomenally successful organizing campaign, and Bush and his handlers can read polls. But despite the...

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