Featured Work


Retail Politics: How America’s Big-Box Retailer Turn Their Economic Power Into Political Influence
November 24, 2014
Co-Author, with Catherine Ruetschlin

Why the Voting Gap Matters
October 23, 2014

Do Corporations & Unions Face The Same Rules For Political Spending?
July 23, 2014
Co-Author, with Liz Kennedy

America’s Deciding Game
Comeback America
September, 2013
Research Assistant

Connecticut At Risk
Comeback America
April, 2013
Research Assistant


If Everyone Voted, Progressives Would Win
Al Jazeera America
March 17, 2015

Millennials Are More Racist Than They Think
March 9, 2015

The Rich Own Our Democracy, New Evidence Suggests
Al Jazeera America
February 16, 2015

The Income Gap At the Polls
January 7, 2015

When Workers Own Their Companies, Everyone Wins
The New Republic
August 1, 2014

Why we should abolish the GDP
The Washington Post
Co-Written with Lew Daly
June 5, 2014

 Life, liberty and the pursuit of property
Al Jazeera
May 16, 2014

America’s new wealthy have so little to offer society
Co-Written by Wallace Turbeville
May 9, 2014

How to Tap Latent Conservative Support for Climate-Change Policy
The Atlantic
April 18, 2014

Big Tobacco Abroad
Boston Review
April 10, 2014

Conservatives defend inequality out of self-interest — nothing more
The Week
March 18, 2014

Can We Make Environmentalism a Centrist Issue?
The American Prospect
March 10, 2014

Six Ways America Is Like a Third-World Country
The Rolling Stone
March 5, 2014

Republicans Can’t Stop Talking About Mobility
The New Republic
February 19, 2014

Marx Was Right
The Rolling Stone
January 30, 2014

Can Vermont’s Single-Payer System Fix What Ails American Healthcare?
The Atlantic
December 27, 2013

Salon exclusive: More Rand Paul plagiarism
November 8, 2013

Five Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand
Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post
July 30, 2013

Steve Jobs Didn’t Build That
July 19, 2013

The Case For Censoring Hate Speech
July 12, 2013

How to Debate About Inequality
Huffington Post, Salon and Alternet
June 25, 2013

Are Conservative Evangelicals Hampering Anti-Trafficking Efforts?
New Politics
June 19, 2013

Newest Strike Against Walmart Battles Years of Blatant Disregard for Workers
May 31, 2013

Smashing the Absurd Myth That More Guns Make Us Safer
May 25, 2013

How the American Dream Died
May 22, 2013

Propaganda and Censorship: The Hollywood Industrial Complex
April 29, 2013

Greed is Good (Fiction)
The Minstrel
April 27, 2013

People Who Love the Second Amendment Hate the Constitution
The Moderate Voice
April 23, 2013

Help the Working Poor
The Day
March 15, 2013

The Republican Party and the Defense Budget Problem
Washington Monthly, Ten Miles Square
October 10, 2012

Prior Court Rulings Could Uphold Obamacare
Norwich Bulletin
March 29, 2012

CA Supreme Court Upholds Plastic Bag Ban
Reason Foundation
June 18, 2011

34 thoughts on “Featured Work

  1. Pingback: Patent Trolls Aren’t the Problem, Patents Are | Sean McElwee

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  5. John Greer

    “As a religious and political movement, fundamentalists have defined themselves as a party of opposition, rather than of love, grace and mercy.” Gee Sean, nice display of love, grace and mercy in your tweet about George Bush’s heart surgery. Another fine example of liberal/progressive civility.

  6. Curt Day

    I believe that if you checked my website, you might want to backtrack some on your claims about fundamentalists. Even if you don’t check my website, it is to easy to find counterexamples to your claims about fundamentalists.

  7. Peter Doyne

    Wow! That’s quite a paintbrush you use. Ever thought of getting lessons on how to use it? Also, please don’t try and give a thematic opinion with just one or two verses. It’s just bad scholarship. Lastly, you could go anywhere in this world and have people define Americans. They may say they are flashy, loud, obnoxious, etc., however I know many who are not defined by those qualities. Perhaps you should re-think your blanket statements first before you label certain groups in your own narrow way.

  8. Kurt Forrest Brewer

    “…they blend Southern Conservatism, bastardized Protestantism, some Pauline doctrine, gross nationalism and a heavy dose of naive anti-intellectualism for a peculiar American strain of bulls**t.” This is possibly the best thing I’ve read all day. Peculiar strain indeed, Sean!

  9. Greg Sails

    There are two unrelated observations I’d like to make on your article about Rand Paul the plagiarist.

    .Can there still be doubt that Paul is a dung heap loose on feet. It testifies to the fecklessness of our political system. Americans are so fed up with “buy a pol” politicians that they’d even explore the likes of Rand Paul and other radical bombasts.

    .I’ve come a full 360 degrees on this. There’s something significantly lacking in our judicial system: justice.
    Those Asian Muslim animals who cut a California man’s penis off will never get justice, because we’ve abolished corporal punishment. This is an area in which Easterners still have an edge on us. Not only does this serve to make our system prohibitively expensive yet, notwithstanding, justice never arrives.
    Those human animals deserve something brutally corporal albeit invaluably inexpensive.

  10. sub

    hey a-hole. just thought i’d weigh in on your never ending spewdom. if serious people regarded insult and denigration as effective debate tools, you;d be a world champ. but alas, as it is, you’re just a smarmy little piece of dung. trust me on this: conservative could care less about what you think or say. you’re just old rotting meat for the rabid. have a nice day, j-off.

  11. Kelley J Miller

    Your article on Ayn Rand’s dangerously flawed philosophy used now in today’s political dialogue made complete sense to me. I’ve been thinking a lot about Randians and their skewed ideas. I’ve been especially worried about young people buying into the insanity. If every wealthy person today vanished, I would not worry. I would be more worried, if say, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, carpenters, engineers, doctors, and nurses were to vanish – oh, and teachers as well.

    1. Robert Lee

      Rand is ultimately concerned with competence and pride in one’s work on any scale because that creates value and wealth. Her abstraction of big businessmen as heroes is based on the assumptions that they provide value to people who people who willingly pay them money because what they are offering improves their lives.

      I’m not a Rand acolyte by any means but I think she deserves a closer reading as her message is more nuanced than you seem to express your understanding.

  12. Robert Lee

    I read your article on Salon and really think you have a strategic mistake going on.

    I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about Ayn Rand’s fiction and nonfiction. It seems to me that you have overlooked the fact that many of the villains in her fiction are exactly the type of crony capitalists you describe who enrich themselves through government means. There is a stark difference in her view between a person who makes wealth inventing the sewing machine or dishwasher and corrupt bankers who seek government bailouts.

    Rand has always been explicit in blaming the Republicans for failing to defend capitalism on moral grounds. Anyway, I think you are just setting up a straw man.

    Her essays on racism, her intransigent support for abortion rights and her profound reasons for being an atheist are all things that I believe could be used to expose the naked hypocrisy of the people on the “right” and tea party types who seek to invoke her as justification for their policies of repression.

    Rand Paul and Paul Ryan are prime targets. The fact that Ryan supports a person hood amendment would just make Rand spin in her grave. Paul’s abortion views ditto.

    I’m a gay disabled person. I have many things I could point to in her writings that I strongly disagree with but you are barking up the wrong tree when you could be acknowledging the things that Rand has potent arguments for that could discredit the fascist right.

    Unfortunately acolytes such as Bingswanger from the Ayn Rand Institute are not going to be of much use as they have taken the anti Obama viewpoint mistakenly thinking that is more of a threat than anti abortion person hood amendments. I think it is much better to let Rand speak for herself.

    The libertarian argument that one is a slave in proportion to the amount that they are taxed should have a counter argument that invalidating the fundamental property right of a woman to her own body in the name of a potential rather than an actual enslaves not only half of humanity but also to the extent that both parents now have to bear the financial burden of unwanted children. Do the math.

  13. Pingback: TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Ayn Rand’s Vision of Idiocy: Understanding the Real Makers and Takers

  14. Peter Calabria

    Hi Sean,
    Am a 70 year old PhD, biophysics. Always good to see the wheels spin well in a young mind, but it’s hard to reach sensible conclusions when you’re operating from a limited data base. You’re quite correct when you cite the game as being more between exploiter vs. exploited than between faith vs. reason, but you’re missing vast amounts of very straightforward history not to understand the not insignificant role that religion plays in social control and exploitation.

    Also much too mushy and off the point when you give religion gold stars in being a personal search for truth, the elemental premise that unseen spirit beings exist in any sensible way, shape or form being ridiculous other than for an individual living in pre-science days when resorting to explanations of nature in spirit anthropomorphic forms was the only recourse.

    Also your statement that getting rid of religion would leave us no closer to the truth is sophistic prattling of the most juvenile sort. Prior to Newton any who did not see the irregular movement of planets as caused by angels steering the planets via God’s direction and will was thought to be crazy. Newton advanced the TRUTH and in doing so tore down a large fistful of religious notions. That is, getting closer to the truth meant getting rid of religion in those areas.

    Moreover the advance of scientific truth has been in just about every area at the expense of competing incorrect or untruthful religious notions.

    Like Hitchens, Dawkins (whom we criticize on our website) and Harris, you’re half right. Religion is subsidiary to exploitation, but your half-right position is just as misleading as theirs: you need to get rid of both the silliness of religious dogma and the cruelty of exploitation, esp. given how the two have and do support each other.

    Still a praiseworthy article in pointing out the shortcomings of Dawkins, etc., efforts.


  15. Frederick B. Mills

    In your excellent article on income inequality, you say, “We don’t have to crush workers when we globalize and we don’t have to destroy the environment in the pursuit of profits.” This sentence is ambiguous. Do you mean that “we” do not have to pursue profits? In that case, I am part of the “we”. Or we do not have to destroy the environment while we pursue profits. I hope you mean the former because I see capitalism as a fundamental part of the problem of social (not just economic) inequality. I think Chris Hedges approaches the same issues, but as a revolutionary who has abandoned liberalism because liberalism is dead, that is, it can no longer even pretend to mediate between capital and labor; war monger and doves; austerity and social investment.

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  20. Jim Schultz

    After reading this article, it occurred to me that the author is really incensed that Christians refuse to worship at the later of HIS religion, i.e. the Church of Liberalism. But he really showed his try colors by mentioning climate change. I guess he was offering that up as an example of “science”.

    It used to be that you could pick out charlatans by finding out how they felt about astrology. Times have changed, I guess.

  21. George Oja

    “Religion, ultimately, aims at truths deeper than science and trying to apply religious reasoning to the natural world is absurd. ”

    This is from your article on ‘Cosmos, Christians…etc.’

    I agree with the first part of the statement–religion aims at truths deeper than science, but the second part is more challenging. What exactly do you believe is ‘religious reasoning?’ Anyone who ever asks the questions ‘why’ and ‘how’ when observing a pink flamingo taking a nap–head tucked under a wing while standing on one thin leg at the pool at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas– is engaged in ‘religious reasoning.’ Science is based first on hypothesis, then on engaging in inquiry though careful methodology, and hopefully reaching at least a conditional conclusion. Basically the scientists are asking ‘why’ and ‘how.’ The starting point for the human mind is the same place: what is the mystery of what I am seeing or witnessing. A fundamental question for the ‘religious reasoner’ is: ‘Where did this natural world come from?’

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  25. Sharon Kass

    The way for blacks to surpass whites in collective wealth is to thoroughly apply conservative principles–including state-of-the-art psychotherapy–to their lives at all socioeconomic levels. Yes, SURPASS whites. Surpass Asians, too, if they want to.

    Liberalism is a cult of failure.

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  27. Pingback: Institute of the Black World » How the Supreme Court is about to explode America’s racial wealth gap 

  28. Isaiah

    Your article on why the GOP hates education is completely flawed; consequently I would assume the majority of your articles would present similar error. Anyone can write a persuasive piece and ‘win’ the debate when you fail to even remotely substantiate the opposing view. A persuasive article is only worth reading when it fully, and accurately, depicts the opposing viewpoint(s) prior to offering its own ideas. The information you detail in the article lacks sufficient information to even be considered an informative work. Please have some pride in what you write by doing thorough research on an idea you want to contrast. It will further your career, and prevent such one sided thinking that is so prevalent on the side of each party today.

  29. andy

    On your fundamentalists and the bible – are you even a Christian? Or are you just trying to lie about fundamentalists and misquote the bible?

    At least ATTEMPT to be truthful and honest – I know that might be tough for you…


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