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 The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy. In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books. 

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

Recent Articles

NAFTA-Style Trade Deal Bad for Democracy

This weekend's Summit of the Americas aims to extend a NAFTA-style free trade area to the entire Western Hemisphere. As Secretary of State Colin Powell recently put it, ''We will be able to sell American goods, technology, and services without obstacles or restrictions from the Arctic to Cape Horn.'' And foreign businesses will likewise be able to sell goods and services in the United States ''without obstacles or restrictions.'' But one person's restrictions are another person's vital social safeguards. Here is a short list of ''obstacles and restrictions'' that constrain American corporations - and represent a century of struggle to make America a more decent society: We allow workers to organize unions. We limit the pollutants that corporations can dump into the environment. We have regulations protecting employees from unsafe working conditions. We assure consumers safe food, and drugs, and drinking water, and other products. We require business to partly underwrite social...

Ralph Nader: A Conversation

Robert Kuttner: I am sympathetic to much of your diagnosis of the dependence of both parties on corporations. But I am skeptical about what you can really accomplish tactically. Historically, what have American third parties accomplished in the past, and what do you hope to accomplish? Ralph Nader: Well, in the past, third parties have marched early and consistently with social justice movements before either major party came on. Whether it was the antislavery drive or women's right to vote, the trade union movement or the populist-progressive farmers movement, third parties in effect politicized the initiative and told the major parties that they either had to respond or they were going to lose part of their margin to the other major party. So if we can build a Green Party that goes over 5 percent, the Democratic Party won't be the same again--because it will have to take into consideration losing, because of that margin, to the opposing major party. And, in the volatile political...

Let's Grant Amnesty to Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader's name has mercifully dropped from the headlines. Democrats are so enraged at George W. Bush's attempt to run the clock on a recount that Bush, rather than Nader, has become the object of Democrats' wrath. It's probably premature, but I'd like to be the first to propose an amnesty for Ralph. By way of disclaimer, I voted for Gore. Like many other liberals, I did so with little enthusiasm. That wasn't Nader's fault, it was Gore's. I also thought Nader's campaign was misconceived, and in the end mischievous. As ill feeling rose between Nader and the Democrats, it became clear that many Greens and perhaps Nader himself hoped that Bush would defeat Gore. Nader deliberately chose to campaign in the tightest battleground states. In the end, Gore squeaked through in all of them, thanks largely to the loyalty of the labor movement. If indeed Gore lost the election, he lost it in Tennessee and Florida, both states where Nader did not campaign actively and where labor is relatively...

Nader is Getting a Bum Rap

I would like to put in a kind word for Ralph Nader. To the extent that Al Gore has lately gained some traction by campaigning as a Trumanesque progressive, we have Nader substantially to thank. You don't have to agree with all of Nader's views, or even to think he is serious presidential timber, to appreciate how he has energized this campaign. Conventional politicians and commentators seem to think the two major parties have a God-given right to have no serious minor candidates complicating their lives. They take offense that Nader and Pat Buchanan run at all. Our Constitution and the winner-take-all electoral system certainly bias American electoral politics against third parties. That has contributed to America's political stability. But whenever the two major parties are oblivious to issues that trouble voters (slavery, corporate abuses, insecurity in old age, excess deficits), third parties have played a very useful role, if only to refocus major-party attention on submerged...

Comment: Dirty Windows

E very great political theorist from Aristotle to Madison to Martin Luther King, Jr., has understood the paradox that liberty requires rules and rules require governments. But Internet libertarians have assumed that the Net is a unique realm of benign, self-regulating anarchy. The problem with anarchy is less the inconvenience of chaos than the risk that someone will soon attempt to bring order, at the expense of someone else's liberty. Today, so much money stands to be made from the control of choke points that the splendid freedom of the information economy is now at risk. The final resolution of the Justice Department's Microsoft case will signal how public policy responds, and antitrust is just one of several policy challenges. Microsoft has advertised itself as a disinterested enabler of consumer choice. But, as the antitrust case has revealed, Microsoft's real slogan might as well be: Where Do We Want You to Go Today? Microsoft wants users to go to the applications software that...

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