If experience has taught you that cynicism is the only healthy response to the dysfunction of our government, Robert Reich has something to say to you: “We have got to get beyond cynicism, we have got to get beyond outrage, and we have got to mobilize, organize, on an ongoing basis. And it can be done!”
Beyond Outrage, by the way, is the title of Reich’s new eBook, in which he points a way out of the current economic and political mess. He speaks from a rich experience of service at the highest levels of government and academia. But it is significant that, having served in three national administrations and written more than twelve books and countless articles, he chose to join the faculty of UC Berkeley. Here he continues to teach and write to an audience that is not lost to cynicism and still has plenty of outrage—the student population of America.
An April 18 interview with Jon Stewart gave him an effective platform for sharing his ideas of what is wrong with America—and how it can be fixed. Reich believes that a tax structure that favors the rich and the use of wealth to influence the laws and regulations of the country are central to the problem. He warns of dire results: “Who is representing us? If we don’t take back our democracy from the special interests, if we don’t have an economy that is working for all of us, eventually there will be a third party.”
Two examples he gave were the Supreme Court’s decision on “Citizens United” and the recent passage of the STOCK Act, stripped of crucial provisions that would have outlawed our legislators from profiting from providing insider information.
Reich noted, “A lot of people think, ‘I can’t do anything. I am powerless. I am (just an) individual. A pox on all their houses! I hate politics! I don’t want to go near it!’ That kind of cynicism actually rewards the big money interests. (They think) ‘Now we can completely take over.’”
He continued, “The problem is that in the financial sector or the big corporations, they are the ones who are sending so many lobbyists into Washington that it is impossible for Washington to function in the way you want Washington to function.”
Reich stated that, historically, when corruption in government and the public sector got to a certain point, the public rose up and demanded change. And he believes it can happen again. To that end he is chairman of a citizens’ group, “Common Cause,” a non-partisan advocacy group devoted, among other things, to getting money out of politics. “It hasn’t succeeded yet, Reich admits, “but we’re working on it.”
And that pretty well describes Robert Reich’s determination to keep working and speaking out against the craziness and corruption in Washington. “You can send good people to Washington, but nothing good will happen unless good people outside Washington are mobilized, energized and organized.”
This explains Reich’s presence and participation in teach-ins at the scene of Occupy demonstrations. He affirms, “Do not underestimate the power of citizens when they are riled up!”
What can you do—you are only one person? True, but you are only “six degrees of separation,” on average, from any other person on Earth. You become powerful when you share information with your friends and ask them to share it with their friends—it becomes a global revolution. As Stephen King suggests in The Long Walk, when these “society-supported sociopaths” come, step aside, and find the strength to run…