Oct 21, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

I remember all of this, just not as vividly as Dr. Reich. At the time, I was considered a "long haired hippie" and the backlash to "baby boomers" protesting the war is what led me to lose trust in police and government. In fact, my thoughts, today, relating to my HOPE that Donald Trump will face indictment mirrors what I remember about as I followed the evolution of the Watergate scandal and my anxiousness for Nixon's impeachment. (I felt Nixon's pardon was a terrible mistake) Of course, Trump is far more dangerous and corrupt than Nixon - but I was/have been "glued" to the investigation of both CORRUPT presidencies. (Just as in Watergate, there are MANY co-conspirators with Trump) Regarding how I felt about the police and government - then and now - I see a lot of similarities between the two "eras." I suppose that confirms Dr. Reich's thesis in this posting. I just wrote about taking "white privilege" for granted most of my life in response to yesterday's post about "how are you feeling" - and, thinking about what transpired in the 60's and 70's pretty much confirms those feelings. I was the recipient of some of the treatment mentioned in this posting - just nothing serious enough to send me to the hospital - but, as a white person, still had that "privilege" I took for granted. (Have a roof over my head and plenty to eat) The emergence of the "Tea Party" is what first caused me to think, fundamentally, not much has changed. I believe this is why I've felt, since January 6th, 2021, that purging the police forces and military of sympathisers with the INSURRECTIONISTS appears to be a "pipe dream." Additionally, that Trump facing accountability is a MUST for the future of our republic overwhems my thinking. (Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes avoided accountabilty for blatant illegality - it keeps getting worse) The election of Nixon was the "birth" of the "Southern Strategy" connecting the republican party with sympathisers of the "lost cause" and Trump has masterfully exploited this division in society which was "simmering" - kind of "under the rocks" for years - until the election of Barack Obama. To me, the backlash to Obama's election is what has brought this racist "underbelly" America can't rid herself from to the "surface." As an aside: This is why teaching the TRUTH about American History is so critical for our public schools. Sadly, as a former teacher, I believe the assault on our democracy is fueled by IGNORANCE and republicans want to keep it that way. Reminding me that "those who choose to ingnore history are bound to repeat it."

Expand full comment
Oct 21, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

I write because, whenever circumstances permit, I underscore, that while abortion care, let alone democracy, must remain on the front burner, Dems need to focus more on a pro-worker agenda—$15 hourly minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, the child tax credit, affordable, quality childcare, universal healthcare, investments in housing, in eldercare, and more—all of which have received zero Republican support. Similarly, in a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when the American people want billionaires to start paying their fair share of taxes, not one Republican has supported the legislation.

With 60% of the people in this country living paycheck to paycheck and millions working for starvation wages, it should surprise no one that the American people in poll after poll report that the economy and inflation are their two major issues. Hence, not only should we not ignore these issues; we should make it clear to working families throughout this country, many of whom are prepared to vote Republican, that if they vote Republican they are voting for a Party, which on every single issue economically runs counter to their interests and concerns.

While I don’t expect taking the fight to the Republican Party will have much, if any, impact on MAGA-GOP, I imagine there are sufficient numbers of “persuadables,” who could help Dems hold the House, pick up some Senates seats, and also win contests in battleground state and local elections.

Less than three weeks out from midterms, I do believe we’re primed both to learn and to implement the lessons gleaned over the past 50 years. But first we need to summon every means to position our leaders to do the work.

Expand full comment

The 'draft dodgers' were seen as having an advantage because they could afford to go to college and avoid being drafted. This was exploited to the hilt by the 'right'. the simple minded "America ; Love it or leave it" did not examine why 'we' were in Vietnam or question authority in any way. It was simplistic and dangerous for a country that was supposed to be 'self ruled' by the people. Media was not informing the public very much then either.

Expand full comment

Thank you for connecting the dots. Easy to lose track of these historical events & their connections to today’s problems while just trying to get through my ADLs (social work- speak for activities of daily living). I am so grateful to be able to access your lessons Professor Reich.

Expand full comment

A story repeated all across America:

A small town has one major employer. That company had employed multiple generations of workers building washing machines or autos or widgets. You grew up seeing your father work hard every day and then retire with a pension. Not a lot of money. But enough to support the family - a house or rent, food, clothing and a TV. Back yard barbecues, sports. A beer with buddies. A good life.

But the company didn't give a shit about any of that. In fact, it just considered those employees an expense. The first thing a manager looks at when reducing expenses is payroll. So the company moved it's production somewhere else where they could pay the workers a fraction of the pay. Where environmental regulations were not so stringent. Poof. Thousands of lives ruined in the small town.

In an America that valued its citizens, that company would have worked in coordination with state and federal resources to provide financial support for all those workers. And for all the people in town whose livelihoods were smashed. The breakfast joint, the small hardware store, the barber shop....

Retraining money, relocation money, rent money. Generations of workers had lined the pockets of the shareholders of that company. Without those workers, there would have been no company, no product, no profits. But the workers were disposed of as if they were just shop floor scraps and debris to disposed of.

The political party that required corporate responsibility for those workers could have been instrumental in building a society where the worker is an important stakeholder - equal in the board room with investors and managers. The fact that we have a President that is in full support of unions should be pushing his poll numbers through the roof. But guess what? Too many of those workers have been sold poppycock and bullshit by racist Republicans. The GQP is throwing gasoline on the culture war.

And we Democrats are just as guilty. Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA which could have been fruitful if it had been designed to protect those workers. After all, Mexicans deserve a good life, too. But what seemed like "free trade" was really a freebie for Wall Street.

Time for some Norma Rae, folks. Time to recognize who has shipped those jobs out of town. Time to talk about employee value and power. Time to claw back some of the riches accumulated off the backs of the indentured servants of the US of A. That town was built by hard work. It was destroyed by greed.

Expand full comment

What if you make the minimum welfare check high enough to prevent poverty, and the basic minimum wage for working 40 hours a week sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living? Would this take the heat from the fire?

Expand full comment

I too, remember that time well. I was still in college, got my Bachelors that month and started on my masters in the fall. It was an appalling time for college students. Although I was at least 10 years older than my classmates I fully supported their stance. The Vietnam war was not a war the Real America belonged in. The people in North Vietnam and even some in South Vietnam were fighting against autocracy and corruption, the legacy of French Colonialism, and here we were killing them for no good reason at all. The police forces, even in California seemed to hate young men, even their own kids. I could not understand why they couldn't see the injustice of that war, any more than the Iraqi war when we attacked them. We weren't protecting our liberty, the liberty of the Vietnamese citizens or Iraqi citizens 30+ years later. We seemed to be fighting for the weapons manufacturers and first Johnson , then the GOP. The only rationale I can imagine is the people in the working class were lied to about why and for whom we were fighting and had never been taught to analyze. Back then, I still believed the Nation and Constitution would survive. Now I'm beginning to doubt.

Expand full comment
Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Populism and riots are not new to this country or elsewhere. It has been said that history does not repeat itself but it sure rhymes. I'm going to explore several areas where Professor Reich has probably already written about much of this. Bear with me if this interests you.

Where is this all going, and what is driving it? Culture wars and their exploitation are a way of building a political base and even a revolutionary movement. Some conservatives are now saying that conservatism is dead; they are participating in a revolution.

Many pieces seem to fit together. Behind all of this are big money interests. The truth inoculation propaganda of populist autocrats to blame others for what they're doing points to the usual anti-Semitic prejudices and weird conspiracy theories, like Q-anon. But I believe that's a cover for real conspiracies of ultra-rich people, monopolists, and autocrats and dictators. Within the last couple of years there was a leak that revealed that people like the king of Jordan, Russian oligarchs and Putin, and families of dictators from third world states were hiding their money in offshore accounts. This is no surprise. These days the old USA is the main repository of this hidden wealth. Top corporate executives make such huge fortunes that I suppose many gain entrance into that elite and hide their money from taxation, even if it is done for them and the investments flow as sophisticated financial instruments. I don't wish to target a shadow group for collective hatred but only to say that it looks to me like we are caught in the grip of worldwide corruption of money and power. That corruption and with it, media control, is really what's taking over, using class wars to divide us, mobilize support and cause chaos.

How did Trump become part of that crowd? Real estate and casinos are well-known vehicles for laundering money, to start. With the presidency he could give access to the nation's secrets to anyone who would build his business interests or stroke his ego. I believe the Russian connection to Trump is real. Otherwise why would Trump want so much to meet Putin, leaving his translator behind and celebrate in the oval office with Russian officials? Length limit? Continued below.

Expand full comment

What’s that old saying about when we don’t learn from history? Ah yes, we are doomed to repeat it.

Expand full comment

And we still have not learned. Most of congress is wealthy and making money from corporations that they should be protecting us from. The wealthy won't allow a crumb to go to those who need it most. Winter is coming and DC parks and overpasses are not the only places full of tent cities. It really is too bad. I'm listening to Maddow's Ultra, now.

Expand full comment

Democrats should be less bashful about their efforts for the middle class; though the help may never be help enough, it's better than deliberately making things worse (e.g. with idiot ideas about "trickle-down" economics & candidates whose administrations invariably embrace such things).

Expand full comment

I was in college then and actively anti-Vietnam but I don’t remember that riot. So many things have slipped by us when we could have done something had we understood the historical significance. I happened to come across this as I was researching something else. This was evidently the turning point in making education out of reach for the non-elite. I thought you might be interested in it. It seems the GOP have been making these kind of plans for decades, certainly not for the common good.

“Sundial (Northridge, Los Angeles, Calif.) 1966-10-14 - Daily Sundial - CSUN University Library Digital Collections: A. S. President John Cagle, along with 14 student leaders from Southern California have come out against gubematorial cand­idate Ronald Reagan's proposal to charge tuition in the State's colleges and universities.”


“A. S. President John Cagle, along with 14 student leaders from Southern California have come out against gubematorial cand­idate Ronald Reagan's proposal to charge tuition in the State's colleges and universities. Cagle emphasized that he was not against Reagan as a candidate, but only on his stand to charge tuition.

•That could be the final step that puts a college education beyond the reach of hundreds of young people in this state,* they charged.

*I am definitely opposed to any levy of this sort for students, Cagle emphasized.“

Expand full comment

I read everything you write and enjoy your thoughts on so many subjects, although I do not respond to a lot of them.

Expand full comment

"As the journalist Pete Hamill observed at the time, the workingman “feels trapped and, even worse, in a society that purports to be democratic, ignored.”"

Excuse all hell out of me, but we hippies and lefties felt ignored - WERE ignored - for decades in our patriotic critique of the USA into which we were born, whose ideals we were taught to believe, and whose hypocricies we were taught we should point out, to correct our course. Instead, we got rampant capitalism, racism, sexism, environmental destruction, colonialist wars, and Pete Hamill's people beating us up.

So let's all agree that we love the ideals of the USA, and that we are all ignored.

Next, we read in Axios today that Lo, the Midwesterners think what we lefties think:

Between the lines: Strong feelings about corporate America help drive Midwest mistrust.

70% of Midwesterners — more than any other region — believe businesses should serve their customers' and employees' interests, not just the interests of their investors.

87% of Midwesterners believe businesses should invest in their communities — and less than half believe businesses actually do so.

Expand full comment

“The nation could have responded, but did not”…to the concerns and needs of the white, working class workers. Corporate, Wall Street Democrats are still not responding in meaningful ways. Schumer and Pelosi feel more comfortable working with Sinema, Manchin and Cuellar than they do with Bernie and AOC now. And it was under Bill Clinton that The final nail was put in the coffin for Glass-Stegall, and it was under Barack Obama that the Wall Street banks were declared “too big to fail.” Is it any wonder that working class, Blacks, Hispanics, young and progressive people are not inspired by these milquetoast Dems, and won’t turn out in sufficient numbers to vote against the authoritarian, plutocratic candidates put up by the Republicans?

Expand full comment

I remember all of what you wrote. One of my most vivid memories was Pat Buchanan's speech to the Republican National Convention (I forget the exact year). I thought I was watching a speech at the 1934 Nuremberg Nazi party rally. It was appalling and very frightening.

Expand full comment