Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. 

Recent Articles

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Resurgence of Democratic Socialism in America

The DSA member’s upset victory shows a growing number of Americans are no fans of actually existing capitalism.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Now that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), has defeated powerful Congressman Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary in New York, the word “socialism” is in the news. But few Americans know what it actually means. Interviewed by Stephen Colbert on The Late Show on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez explained : I believe that in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live. What that means to me is health care as a human right, it means that every child no matter where you are born should have access to a college or trade-school education if they so choose it. I think that no person should be homeless if we have public structures or public policy to allow for people to have homes and food and lead a dignified life in the United States. The day after Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, CBS News’ Nancy Cordes asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if democratic socialism is “ascendant...

Let Us NOT Praise Anthony Kennedy

Regardless of his motives, Kennedy will be responsible for allowing Trump to name a replacement who, along with the other right-wingers on the court, will further erode American democracy. 

The praise that Justice Anthony Kennedy is getting for being a courageous “swing” vote on the Supreme Court is nauseating. Kennedy clearly knows that whomever Trump nominates to replace him will vote to wipe out the protections for abortion and LGBT rights that Kennedy supported. Whatever praise Kennedy has received for helping chip away at homophobia and patriarchy, he no longer deserves. Thus, his legacy should NOT be his votes on those two issues, but his complicity with Trump to steer the Court even further to the right for at least the next 20 years. Kennedy made a calculated political decision to retire on July 31. None of the news stories about his retirement indicate that the 81-year-old jurist is suffering from an illness that would preclude him waiting another 14 weeks—98 days—until the November 6 elections. Appointed by Ronald Reagan, he was clearly worried that the Democrats might win a majority of seats in the Senate and be able to thwart Trump...

Was Albert Einstein a Racist?

The great scientist was a radical egalitarian—but subject nonetheless to some of the biases of his time.

Albert Einstein is back in the news, but not because someone has disproved or confirmed one of his theories. The publication of Einstein’s travel diaries last week reveal that he wrote some racist things about the Chinese back in the early 1920s. The media have jumped on Einstein’s observations to undermine his reputation as a progressive, suggesting that the world-renowned physicist was a hypocrite. “Einstein's travel diaries reveal physicist's racism,” BBC News headlined its story. USA Today’s version was: “Einstein was a racist? His 1920s travel diaries contain shocking slurs against Chinese people.” Wrote Fox News: “Einstein's diaries contain shocking details of his racism.” Princeton University Press (in coordination with the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology) just published The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922–1923 , translated into English for...

For NFL Players, Civil -- and Visible -- Disobedience Is the Only Option

Taking a knee is in the best American tradition of protest.

(Ryan Kang via AP)
Last week, NFL owners capitulated to President Donald Trump by voting to require players to stand on the field for the national anthem. Teams will be subject to a fine if any player disobeys, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The next day, Trump applauded the owners for doing “the right thing.” Players who refuse to stand for the anthem, Trump declared, “shouldn’t be in this country.” Many NFL players have reacted with anger over the league’s new policy and Trump’s comments. “It’s disgusting because of our First Amendment rights,” said Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. “[Trump is] an idiot, plain and simple,” said Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. In what the owners described as a “compromise,” the new policy gives players the option of remaining in the locker room during the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Some players have discussed the idea of having entire teams...

Why America Needs More Social Housing

Subsidizing market prices to make housing affordable is a losing strategy. There’s a better way—on display for a century in Vienna.

(Dominik "Dome"/Flickr)
This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . The quest to provide what has come to be called “affordable housing” in America is hobbled by one fundamental reality. Too much housing is in the market sector and too little is in a social sector permanently protected from rising prices. The result is that supply and demand relentlessly bids up market prices. Government is required to provide deeper and deeper subsidies to keep rents within the bounds of incomes, so fewer and fewer people get any kind of help. This is true whether the form of public subsidy is tax breaks, direct subsidies, vouchers, or deals with developers to set aside some percent of units as affordable. In most cities, the median rent far exceeds what median incomes can afford. In cities with hot housing markets, homeownership is even further beyond reach for those who do not already own homes, exacerbating competition for scarce apartments. The idea of...

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