Listen now | Why we shouldn't be discouraged
Several of you tell me you've found these words helpful today. I'm glad. If you're so moved, please share.
Taking the long-view and remembering the long arcs of social progress is certainly important, especially to fight the despair that comes from too much day-to-day media nonsense. Still, I can't help but wonder if our anger over the "same old delays and excuses" should push us to adjust our strategies. We are now at the point where our disagreements are not about whether policies should be based on Laffer Curve or trickle down fantasies, but about the literal survival of the species. I think we must be careful at how much we use past precedents of long battles, lest we remain too stuck on infective methods of activism that will not allow us to course correct in time.
For example, I struggle to understand why we spend so much time pressuring politicians when history seems to have made it clear that the more appropriate and impactful efforts would be to pressure the companies funding them and their "ideas." Replace Manchin or Sinema with someone else, and it's more than likely they will take the same supposed stances on issues that their donors demand. In short Robert, I'm with you, but perhaps our anger over inertia and the same old obstacles should force us to reckon with the true forces behind the lack of progress and whether we are responding accordingly.
Here's something to think about. Facebook's name change got more press coverage than anything happening in the world. That just about sums up what's wrong with the media today. That story would have been on page 21 of the B section in the past. Boy, I miss those days.
Hi Robert. Always a positive outlook and just what I needed.
Two things (might be more, but we will see)
I believe the Democrats need to take a look at messaging. I'm not sure who is in charge anymore, and it seems like the elected congress doesn't know either. There should be a strong message about the benefits of the BBB plan. Crickets don't work, and everyone I speak to seems to be confused about how it works, who gets taxed, how the upgrades will be implemented, what happens if the Dems lose power and the work is not executed, will the GQP continue to implement the necessary infrastructure upgrades and address climate change? We know what happens when the GQP are in power, don't we? Climate change is a hoax; infrastructure is just fine, working stiffs are getting too many benefits, blah, blah, blah.
Think about how this could have played out if the Dems had delivered a graphic message about the changes and what would happen if the infrastructure didn't get the needed upgrade. Americans have a hard time with words. Pictures work.
My huge concern is if we lose the majority in the midterms, not to mention the multitude of governors' races, the GQP distraction and deflection could end up in another conflict. And trillions will get funneled into another lengthy war! This happens every time, and then blame the Dems for not addressing the potential conflict during their tenure.
I know the media will ignore things that don't sell advertising or newspapers, but there must be a more significant push by the Dems to tout the successes and not the infighting happening right now. That distraction is pushing voters away, and they may not vote at all in the midterms. We CANNOT keep going on and on about Trump unless he goes to jail. The message has to change.
Was that two?
You are right, Dr. Reich. Change is slow and painful. Here in Colorado, we tried for years to pass a Police Accountability Law and this year we did it!!! If took the death of Elijah McClain to move the legislature to do it, but now we have a law that should serve as a model for the rest of the country. President Biden has learned to suffer disappointment and not give up. The rest of us must follow suit.
One of the better things about our outrageous past 5-6 years is that you end up talking to other people who are like minded and have great ideas, suggestions and unwillingness to allow this right wing cancer to take our country.
Several people mention messaging, but the reality is right wing corporate media doesn’t put out what the progressives say. They constantly focus on the acts of the deluded Trump Tribe.
We need to focus on how we get someone to get wide reaching media to present the left side of what we’re attempting to do and what we have accomplished.
Too many people are piling on Biden. The republicans never punish their leaders for not doing something. We’re going to have to fight them back in a similar manner. If we can get most of the package through, IF we win more seats, we can do the rest after that! Biden has THE most diverse admin in our history! He’s reversed numerous Trump exec orders, turned pharmacies into Covid vaccine sites, sent out $160mil stimulus payments (GQP didn’t support anything FOR people), signed $1.9T covid relief bill etc.
Start researching people… this won’t be in the news which is ALL owned by the ultra conservative super-wealthy!
Biden is one man. He can put out an agenda but has to have votes. We need to vett every Dem candidate. We need a system change to prevent Sinema etc from blocking what 81 million people voted for. But learn to give credit where it is due!
Thank you for this reminder! My day is brightened, and I will look for opportunities that support a more optimistic stance.
While I understand all of this, our public education system is going to collapse if something is not done sooner rather than later. I appreciate historical trends, but in the meantime, you have "essential" workers, including teachers, simply being told to be resilient as we have to assume more and more risks with not real supports, attacked on all sides, sometimes physically. We focus on the students learning & mental health mental health (rightfully so), but any concerns for our mental health (the buried CDC study from May show significant increases in depression,anxiety & substance use higher than other groups) are brief mentions in editorials and articles.
Resilience only goes so far. Because with it, essential workers are merely expendable workers.
Robert you are a very intelligent and an empathetic person. Your comments today are easily accepted as we all clamor for hope. I am so much in agreement with so many thoughtful comments in this group. My frustration is what can we do that has real impact on protecting what we care about so dearly. Vote of course. Send donations to support our causes of course. Educate ourselves about what is really happening in our country politics, society, religions, and economics of course. Participate in group protests organized in our communities of course. Engage with Indivisible, Move on, send letters of course. These and other actions can help us feel we are contributing to the cause of protecting our democracy which we value greatly. However it does not seem enough to fight the opposition which clearly wants to undermine our democracy, has no empathy for the majority of our citizens, and wants to take us into an autocratic government. I feel like our weapons are air guns vs our competition’s cannons. They have very well executed the science of gerrymandering, they have stacked the courts, they have reduced taxes on the wealthy class so they can gain more power, they have given free license to news outlets like Fox to disseminate lies under the protection of free press, they have given corporations the power of citizenry, they are suppressing access to voting, their powerful hedge funds are buying up our local newspapers a foundation of democracy and destroying them, they have supported the coal and gas industry with no consideration of our environment, they have distorted the power of religion to wreak havoc on the minds of so many eager to follow. Yes we have the power to vote in a functional democracy that is becoming less functional. Majority does not rule in America. We have airguns they have powerful cannons. Can someone tell us how to fight back with equal or stronger ballistics. Staying vigilant, resilient, and hopeful somehow just does not seem enough.
An excellent column, as always, but for a moment let's take a more expansive look.
First of all, no one - not Biden, not the Progressives of whom I am one, and certainly not the media - knew the full extent of the damage caused by Trump and his lackeys or the numerous ways in which he manipulated the Constitution and long-standing but unwritten codes of acceptable conduct in government.
I don't blame the Founders for anything but lack of imagination. The document they produced after some years of difficult negotiations is and was the wonder of the world, but it is replete with generalities and the absence of specific penalties for violation of its tenets, thus allowing a wannabe dictator like Trump to get away with so many egregious violations of the spirit of the document.
As a result, the damage to our national and local governments, our environment, economy, systems of laws and general wellbeing was and is vast. Many of us wondered if any new President, so inclined, would be able to fix all the problems created by Trump and his crooked finaglers in just one four-year Presidential term.
Biden had some idea what he was getting into, but he's saddled with the filibuster, a 48-50 split in the Senate (I leave out our two egregious conservative Democrats) and a Senate minority leader who has sworn to block every positive action by the President and liberal Democrats working for the wellbeing of all Americans.
Secondly, we are in a war on terrorism, not the radical Muslim kind but the home-grown American "militia" kind, headed by a disaffected and mentally unstable (too kind a description, I know) former President who will stop at nothing to regain power and the status of the Presidency.
Thirdly, the political party ostensibly in power lacks the feral instincts of the Republican fascists, allied with the big corporations and their monetary resources, and has little understanding of how to manage and direct public opinion.
In other words, Biden and the rest of us are in a pickle larger than most Presidents and well-meaning Americans have often faced. Or perhaps that's incorrect: FDR faced a drought and economic depression that required heroic actions to overcome, as well as the rising tide of Fascism not only in Europe but in our own country as well. Lincoln faced the dissolution of the Union and through courage and tenacity saw the Union reunited, only to have his policies turned on their head after his assassination. And others of foresight and courage have faced down major and minor crises during their terms, but probably none faced the panoply of awfulness that Biden finds in front of him.
If Biden succeeds in healing the damage of the last four years and minimizing the threat of armed rebellion and a Trumpist coup d'erat, he may yet bring us out of this mess. It will not be easy. He will face many crises not of his making, make many mistakes in healing our nation, yet I trust him and feel he's the right person for the times. I sincerely hope that I'm right.
I see what you’re saying, Dr. Reich. I was on an academic path of a high achiever until it was dashed away with the Great Recession. I’ve struggled with the failure of not finishing my PhD in Experimental Psychology for the past 14 years, but through that struggle, I still achieved. I have a wonderful family that I doubt I would have had if I had continued in academia.
This wacked-out capitalist society would deem me a failure for having crushing student debt and a job that barely cracks $30K/year and doesn’t make use of my expensive grad school training, but I found my success within, far away from Wall Street, Washington DC, etc..
This is a lovely message, and I agree with 99% of it. I agree wholeheartedly that we all must continue the push towards justice and prosperity for all; we must continue to empathize with others and extend a helping hand to lift them up as we are able. I do not think an individual can be self aware and not aspire to these behaviors.
The 1% i disagree with is the intimation that democracy isn't actually failing. Im watching Trump loyalists getting installed in positions that could overturn election results time and again- and the DOJ/Congress show no appetite to protect us from this. Short of a miracle, American democracy will fail in 2024.
I appreciate you, Robert, for doing your part to help drown out the noise of mainstream media. I don’t comment often, but I read your newsletter daily and am challenged to think outside the box and analyze from different angles every day. Not just by your words, but by the words of the other commenters. Thank you, all.
Thank-you, Dr. Reich, I needed that! We ALL needed to hear your positive words of encouragement because it is so easy to fall into despair right now.
Can you imagine a positive message like this appearing on any cable news show or internet news site? For them, its always "Democrat good, Republican bad", or "Republican good, Democrat bad" controversies. They may be interesting in the short run, but in the long run they become totally unimportant.
Wise and comforting words, as well as encouraging. The illusion that the American people are powerless serves the exploiters as well as providing scapegoats to misdirect their outrage. That such a relatively small portion of eligible voters do vote regularly is a measure of the success of the disempowerment campaign. The relevant rallying cry should be: "The people united can never be defeated!" Use your vote before you lose it!