Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

This issue of Dissent is focused on American politics, a natural theme for the season and the year. But we are not concerned here with how to vote in the presidential election, which doesn’t seem a difficult (though it may be a painful) question, but with how to orient ourselves in a time when the left is politically weak. Given that weakness, President Clinton’s refusal to veto the Republican welfare bill can’t have been an unexpected disappointment for liberals and leftists. (Francis Fox Piven, Jim Rule and Susan Lambiase, Linda Gordon and Maria Cancian, writing before the new law was passed, explain its politics and its likely consequences, especially for women and children.) Though there apparently were strong voices within the administration calling for a veto, there weren’t enough strong voices outside. If more of the thirteen million people on welfare voted, if they were organized, if the unions were better able to represent the working class as a whole, if the Democrats were still a mass party . . . if, if . . . the president would no doubt have found it in his heart to oppose the mean-spiritedness of the campaign against welfare. And, obviously, if not, not.

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Lima