Mark Schmitt

Director, Political Reform Program

Mark Schmitt is the director of the Political Reform program at New America. Launched in 2014, this initiative seeks to develop new approaches to understanding and reforming the market for political power and the crisis of democratic governance. A prominent writer on politics and public policy with experience in government, philanthropy and journalism, Schmitt is an expert on political reform, budget and tax policy, and US social policy.

From 2008 to 2011, Schmitt was the executive editor of The American Prospect, where he was a columnist beginning in 2005. During his tenure, the Prospect won numerous awards, including the Utne Reader award for Best Political Magazine. After leaving the Prospect, Schmitt was a senior fellow and advisor to the president at the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank. In a previous stint at New America, from 2005 to 2008, he also helped launch a major initiative on the next social contract and an innovative approach to campaign reform.   

From 1997 until 2005, Schmitt was the director of the Governance and Public Policy program at the Open Society Foundations, where he developed grantmaking and research programs on political reform and state-level policy. In the 1990s, he was a speechwriter and later policy director to Sen. Bill Bradley, working on issues including welfare reform, higher education, and urban policy, and he served as a senior advisor on Bradley's 2000 presidential campaign.

Schmitt's political and policy analysis appeared frequently in The New York Times in 2016 and 2017, and he has written for Time, The Washington Monthly, The Financial Times, The New York Times Book Review and other print and web publications, including the Political Reform program’s blog on Vox.com, Polyarchy. From 2003 through 2007, he published his own blog, The Decembrist, which was named by Forbes as one of the five best political blogs of its time.

Schmitt grew up in New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Yale University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Holly Yeager, and their daughter.

All Work

POLITICAL REFORM and NEW AMERICA
The Benghazi-fication of the House of Representatives

Mark Schmitt on how the congressional battle between radicals and institutionalists reflects and reinforces divides of race, ideology, and r


POLITICAL REFORM and NEW AMERICA
The nonpolitical is political — especially on the right

Mark Schmitt on Trump and Carson, The Apprentice and Zondervan.


POLITICAL REFORM and NEW AMERICA
3 caveats about that New York Times blockbuster on big donors

The New York Times's interactive feature about the 158 families that have provided almost half of the money in the first stage of the 2016 p


POLITICAL REFORM and NEW AMERICA
Space Property Rights

Mark Schmitt discussed how Congress is delving into space property rights on Bloggingheads.tv.


FELLOWS and POLITICAL REFORM
The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

Ari Berman tells the story of the transformation of the country under the VRA, as well as the counterrevolutionary efforts to undermine it.


POLITICAL REFORM
How Larry Lessig's presidential campaign changed the campaign reform agenda

But Lessig, along with Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham law professor who ran for governor of New York in 2014 and has now taken over the Mayday


POLITICAL REFORM
The Speechwriter will make you like Mark Sanford, and hate the author

Barton Swaim, whose short, acid memoir, The Speechwriter, has been riding a wave of adulation from reviewers in the New York Times and the W


POLITICAL REFORM
Small-Donor Empowerment

In the wake of the 2014 mid-term election that cost nearly $4 billion, and in which the tide of “dark money” from large, unidentified...


POLITICAL REFORM
What if you had as much political influence as a billionaire?

The traditional approach to reducing the influence of economic inequality on democracy has been to limit those fat checks, by capping indivi


POLITICAL REFORM
More Campaign Spending From More People

In the five years since the Citizens United decision, the campaign-finance reform movement has worked its way through the five stages of gri


POLITICAL REFORM and NEW AMERICA
Can We Make American Democracy Work?

Have political reformers been working with the wrong sets of assumptions? If so, what lessons should we learn from past political reforms?


POLITICAL REFORM
Political Opportunity

The cause of restoring American democracy demands more than just new laws or new norms — we need a new rationale, not only for legal purpose