Nelson Lichtenstein directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a student of U.S. capitalism in all of its dimensions and has long been particularly interested in its leading players, first studying the automotive industry, then big box retail, and now Clinton era neoliberals on Wall Street and off. His most recent book is A Fabulous Failure: Bill Clinton and American Capitalism (2023), and he is co-editor of Capitalism Contested: the New Deal and its Legacies (2020) as well as Beyond the New Deal order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession (2019). An elected member of the Society of American Historians, he is also the recipient of the Sidney Hillman Foundation's Sol Stetin Award for lifetime achievement in labor history. He writes frequently for Dissent, Jacobin, American Prospect and Labor Notes and infrequently for the New York Times and the Washington Post.
When he entered the White House in 1993, Bill Clinton wanted to "manage" American capitalism. He stood to the left of every previous Democratic presidential candidate since George McGovern. His failure therefore tells us much about the constrains imposed by partisanship and finance, not only in terms of his health care initiative, but the ways in which his trade, labor, business policies were reshaped in a neoliberal direction.