Discover more from Robert Reich
Why is American capitalism so rotten? (Announcing our next 10-part Friday series)
Where did Trumpism come from? Is our economy flawed because democracy isn’t working? Or is democracy in trouble because our economy is flawed?
So many of you told me you found our 10-week-long discussion of the common good valuable that I thought I might take it further and deeper — examining the compatibility (or incompatibility) of the common good with the basic tenets of American capitalism.
I’m pleased to announce that the following 10 Fridays will be devoted to a discussion of what’s gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, how they’re interrelated, and how best to respond — not just for the upcoming election, but for the survival of what we value most about America.
Now that the election is less than a year away, it seems particularly important to create a safe space where we can discuss these issues.
The stakes could not be higher.
How Americans vote in the upcoming election may determine whether our democracy survives.
How we respond to the excesses of wealth and selfishness in this second Gilded Age will help determine whether our economy and democracy can coexist.
How we deal with the accelerating climate crisis will determine whether human life on Earth endures.
Donald Trump is not the cause of the crisis we find ourselves in, but the consequence.
The last five decades have been marked by growing distrust toward all of the basic institutions of American society: government, the media, corporations, big banks, police, universities, charities, religious institutions, the professions.
There is a wide and pervasive sense that the system as a whole is no longer working.
A growing number of Americans have felt neglected and powerless. Some are poor. Some are Black or Latino. Others are white and have been on a downward economic escalator for years. Many in the middle feel stressed and voiceless.
Whether we call ourselves Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, we have shared many of the same anxieties and felt much of the same distrust toward the establishment.
Joe Biden is trying to remedy many of these deeper, structural problems. His support for labor, his worker-centered economic policies (such as forgiving student debt and reducing drug prices), and his attacks on corporate monopolies are all moving in the right direction. But he doesn’t yet have the political support he needs to transform the economy.
Trump, meanwhile, epitomizes what has gone wrong. He and his enablers in the Republican Party are offering a “strongman” alternative to American democracy that can best be described as neofascist. His viciousness and loathsomeness have brought us back to first principles. Do we prefer democracy to tyranny? Freedom to fascism? Tolerance to bigotry?
Is our economy dysfunctional because our democracy isn’t working, or is our democracy dysfunctional because our economy is flawed?
In Part 1, next Friday, we’ll examine why the economy has stopped working for so many.
Thank you for joining me on this expedition. I urge you to add your comments and take part in our discussion.
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