Reich’s distinguished career spans three administrations, including a tenure as Clinton’s secretary of labor. He has been awarded the Vaclav Havel Foundation Prize for work in economic and social thought, and is the author of a dozen books, most recently Beyond Outrage. He is also the co-founding editor of American Prospect, co-creator of the film Inequality for All, commentator on NPR’s Marketplace, and professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. In his thirteenth book, Reich tackles the growing problem of economic disparity by focusing on the relationship between politics and corporate finance. Closely examining that revolving door between the two, Reich compares myths about both the minimum wage and top corporate compensation, and issues a call for civic action to change the status quo.
Sam: If you want to reach my generation, you’re not going to reach them through books .. you have to use movies and videos
there are very different ideas there are
still very different ideas the hypnosis
of the end of history is something that
we have to break ourselves out of the
fist thing that I think I’ve understood
is that the catalyst or if you want the
lubricant of regime change is mistrust
right the sense of uncertainty the sense
that nothing is real or nothing is true
if you are having that feeling now as
many Americans are you are right we’re
Russians were about a decade ago okay
they’re much further along now right
there they’re in a different place now
as people say but if you have that sense
that you don’t know who to trust as
journalism real as history real you know
should I listen to white men wearing
ties actually the answer is generally no
right and make it but but make an
exception right make an exception oh no
no I think I feel I feel like Sean
Spicer has totally ruined this look for
me but but i but i don’t know where else
to go so like maybe you know maybe you
can help you out afterwards anyway that
that mistrust is the rubric mistrust
makes it happen right because if you
don’t think anything’s true and you
don’t trust anyone then the rule of law
can’t work and if the rule of law can’t
work then democracy is going to fall
right democracy depends on the rule of
law rule of law has depends on a certain
basic level of trust that basic level of
trust it’s not that we agree about
everything but that we agree there’s a
world in there facts in it if you lose
that then you lose rule of law then you
lose democracy right and the people who
are going after trusts the people who
are tweeting random things at 5:30 in
the morning right they are consciously
ripping out the heart of democracy it’s
not the skin right it’s not the muscle
that’s going to resigned it’s not the
bones it’s going right for the heart
it’s skipping the step of democracy
right it’s going right for the heart
it’s ripping out the thing which makes
democracy possible the final thing the
number 19is the one about patriotism in generalthe ones towards the end of the book aremeant to come later but you knowsometimes events outpace you or catch orcatch you up as Vic and I like to saycatch you up be a patriot set a good thegenerations to come they will need itwhat is patriotism let us begin withwhat patriotism is not it is notpatriotic to dodge the draft and to mockwar heroes and their familiesit is not patriotic to discriminateagainst active duty members of the ArmedForces and one’s companies or a campaignto keep disabled veterans away fromone’s property it is not patriotic tocompare one search for sexual partnersin New York with the military service inVietnam that one has dodged it is notpatriotic to avoid paying taxesespecially when American workingfamilies do pay it is not patriotic toask those working taxpaying Americanfamilies to finance one’s ownpresidential campaign and then to spendtheir contributions in one’s own inone’s own companies it is not patrioticto admire foreign dictators it is notpatriotic to cultivate a relationshipwith Muammar Gaddafi or to say thatBashar al-assad and Vladimir Putin aresuperior leaders it is not patriotic tocall upon Russia to intervene in anAmerican presidential electionit is not patriotic to cite Russianpropaganda at rallies it is notpatriotic to share an advisor withRussian oligarchs and is not patrioticto solicit foreign policy advice fromsomeone who owns shares in a Russianenergy company it is not patriotic toread a foreign policy speech written bysomeone on the payroll of a Russianenergy company it is not patriotic toappoint a national security advisor whois taking money from a Russianpropaganda organ it is not patriotic toappointed Secretary of State an oil manwith Russian financial interests who isthe director of a Russian Americanenergy company and has received theorder of friendship from Putin the pointis not that Russia and America must beenemies the point is that patriotisminvolves serving your own country thepresident is a nationalist which is notat all the same things a patriot anationalist encourages us to be ourworst and then tells us that we are thebest a nationalist quote althoughendlessly brooding on power victorydefeat revenge wrote Orwell tends to bequote uninterested in what happens inthe real worldunquote nationalism is relativist sincethe only truth is the resentment we feelwhen we contemplate others as thenovelist bunnyville keys put itnationalism quote has no universalvalues aesthetic or ethical a patriot bycontrast wants the nation to live up toits ideals which means asking us to beour best selves a patriot must beconcerned with the real world which isthe only place where his country can beloved and sustained a patriot hasuniversal values standards by which hejudges his nation always wishing it welland wishing that it would do betterdemocracy failed in Europe in the 1920s1930s and 1940s and it is failingnot only in much of Europe but in manyparts of the world today it is thathistory and experience that reveals tous the dark range of our possiblefutures a nationalist will say that itcan’t happen here which is the firststep towards disaster a patriot saysthat it could happen here look that wewill stop it thank41:03I don’t I don’t have a silver bullet forthat but I do have some ways of tryingto get one’s mind around it the first isthat is is technological I mean it justit just turns out that the Internet doesnot open the broad you know the broadsweep towards the positive globalizationthat Al Gore was dreaming of right inthe 1990s that just isn’t true just likeit wasn’t true with a book which broughtus the Wars of Religion right just likeit wasn’t true a radio which brought usfascism all of these new I mean notalone right but all of these newtechnologies are extremely unpredictablefor some like transition period that maylast a hundred years right there they’revery unpredictable so art like our kindof and this is something this is abubble that I think Hillary Clintonherself was caught in her campaign wascaught in people on these coats werethought and people did not realize whatthe internet actually was right what itwas actually doing and this is I meanthere’s an empirical thing here there’sa technical thing here the empiricalthing is people just did not realize howhow siloed off we had become I didn’trealize it until I actually startedtalking to real took when I wascanvassing and talking to Trump votersin the Midwest and then I realized likethis is so dumb but it was at thatmoment that I realized just howdifferent my facebook feed was fromother people’s because if you hear fromwhat seemed to be 25 independent sourcesthat Hillary Clinton is a murderer andyou’ve been hearing it for six monthsyou might well believe itall right I mean that’s not surprisingwhich is the technical thing not enoughpeople again really a Clinton campaignwhatever realized thatDonald Trump actually had a campaignadvantage right we talked incessantlyabout being a ground game ground game Isaw the ground game you know it’s likeit’s twice all agree I what the groundgame in the AK in the ground game whichis below the ground game right and whatthe Russians called a psycho sphereTrump had a tremendous advantage howmuch of that was actually is campaigninghow much there was actually the RussiansI don’t know but in terms of the bots interms of the technical distribution ofthe false news at the generation andtechnical distribution he had a hugeadvantage and what turned out almostcertainly be a decisive advantage theseare things that we have to understandand get our mind around now in terms ofwhat we can do I mean obviously like youknow Zuckerberg can do a lot and peoplewho are in charge of news distributioncan can do a lot there are two littlethings I mean one is kind of just adeclaration I think 2017 is already andis going to be a heroic year forjournalism I mean and I be absolutelymean heroic like if this is going toturn around it’s going to be because ofpeople pursuing old fashioned storiesand old-fashioned ways and printing andpublishing very often in print journalswho can afford or at least try to try toafford to be able to do such things andand I mean it’s also generationally likethere are a lot of really interestingyoung people who now see journalism asedgy and they’re right right like thewhole threat like that the phrasemainstream media that’s not like what’smainstream is the derision of the mediathat’s the mainstream right being ajournalist is now edgy and dangerous andinteresting right and I think maybehistorically meaningful and you know thelittle thing I say in the book which isobvious I’m sure you all do it is thatwe need to pay for a bunch ofsubscriptions because if everybody paysfor subscriptions that will actually beenough to subsidize investigations rightand that I mean even we know that peoplelike us often don’t do that right and ifwe all did it that would make a hugedifference and then finally there’s likethere’s the internet self policing whichis it we have to think we have toremember that we are all now publishersright and so therefore we all everyevery individual makes a difference interms of what is actually beingdistributed right if we think about itthat way then each of us can make usfeel better to write like if you pickedreporters from the real world followtheir workget to know them as it were and thendistribute their work online then you’rebeing a publisher who’s doing a littlebit of good so let the day-to-day levelthat’s something that we can do thankthat the cleat and actually the questionwe just had the cleavages are going tochange they’re already changing and inEurope they’re it’s further along thanthan here because certain things arefurther along in Europe and here but Ithink the real dividing lines are factand post fact and andanti-authoritarianism authoritarianismand I think the anti I think I agreewith your premise the anti-authoritariancase is unfortunately a case that has tobe made right it can lose but I thinkthat’s the case that has to be made andit goes back to how one wins also theanti-authoritarian z– have to include agood deal of my view conservativespeople who vote Republican right peoplewho people who think there should be aConstitution although they would havethey would disagree about policy youknow perhaps with me right theanti-authoritarian camp is gonna have toinclude a lot of folks like that as wellso so so my answer is that of courseyou’re right I mean the Bill of Rightsis there for the reason you give that’swhy the Bill of Rights is there it’s notthere because it’s popular it’s therebecause it would be unpopular right whowants to separate church and state it’dbe so much more fun to have my you knowmy church right I mean who’s not temptedby that right few people okay so likeokay I was going to list all I want afavor anyway there are a fewdenominations who have maybe not beatsbut in general like we you belong forrare tradition if you belong to atradition which has never try to takeover the state at some point or found astate right so how is dividing churchand state popular it’s not meant to bepopular it’s meant to be sensible thesethings are not meant to be popular andso that means they have to be defendedprecisely but I think I think there isenough of a consensus aroundConstitution that one can at least startthere as a way of shaming people orgathering people but I mean my basic mybasic notion is that you get yeah itgoes on very deep it’s whether you’regoing to authoritarian oranti-authoritarian and the people whoare trying to change things already knowthey’re authoritarians right so here wejust one of the comments when HillaryClinton stated at the time that Russiawas taking over Crimea and invading ruleand she compared it to sedating landtakeover and everybody scoffs better shehad to pull it back but I don’t knowwhether you thought that was more aptthan some B’s well I mean on andElizabeth who was a very gifted andconservative Russian historian made thesame comparison and lost his lost hisjob for it no of course it’s apt rightso here’s like here’s how Americans joinyou with history the Americans deal withhistory as though history were an mp3and if it doesn’t sound exactly the samewhen you punch the button as it did theprevious time then you think something’swrong right that’s what American says ifit does if it doesn’t repeat perfectlyso if Americans will say oh well thereno there no swastikas so no jackbootsI’m changing the channel I’m afraid likethat’s our Nats our national response tothe history this whole taboo thing aboutthe 1930s is a way of saying well in thein the naive view and the naive viewit’s a way of saying okay we don’t knowanything about history that’s fine rightbecause no analogies can be perfectI mean Crimean sedate land is actuallyan extremely good analogy it’s a veryclose analogy right but none is going tobe perfect right and so saying oh that’sjust an analogy or that’s a way of justnot thinking about history and once youdon’t think about history you’re doneyou’re finished because history is theonly thing which teaches you how peoplehave successfully resisted it’s also theonly thing we teaches you howinstitutions are constructed right sothe moment you say oh no comparisonsyou’re done forget it right it’s over soit’s a very it’s a very dangerous verydangerous move and in the dark versionthe non naive version in the darkversion it’s quite deliberate you knowyou say well I you know I am NOT exactlylike Hitler and therefore it’s okayright and we’re getting to that pointright you know they’re nothing is wrongI’m overstating this slightly but notmuchnothing is wrong because they’re onconcentration camps yet no no no no youknow and there weren’t you know thewrong concentration camps in in January1933 either right okay
The House should consider the president’s incendiary rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment, as it was in 1868.
Over the weekend, in a rage over impeachment, President Trump accused Representative Adam Schiff of “treason,” promised “Big Consequences” for the whistle-blower who sounded the alarm about his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and shared a warning — from a Baptist pastor in Dallas — that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”
We’re already on to the next news cycle, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what happened with those tweets. The president was using the power and influence of his office to intimidate a witness and threaten a member of Congress with prosecution (of a crime still punishable by death), before raising the specter of large-scale political violence should lawmakers hold him responsible for his actions. If he had said this anywhere besides Twitter — in the Rose Garden or at a campaign stop — we would see it as a clear and unacceptable abuse of presidential rhetoric, his authoritarian instincts at work.
The House impeachment inquiry will almost certainly focus on Trump’s attempt to solicit foreign intervention in the 2020 election. If it goes beyond that, it might also include the president’s corruption and self-dealing. But in whichever direction the investigation goes, the House should consider Trump’s violent rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment.There’s precedent for making transgressive presidential speech a “high crime or misdemeanor.” The 10th article of impeachment against Andrew Johnson in 1868 was about his language and conduct over the course of his term. Two years earlier, Johnson had taken a tour of Northern cities to campaign against Radical Republicans in Congress and build support for his lenient policies toward the defeated South.
At first, it was a success, with large crowds cheering the president during events in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. But his fortunes turned in Cleveland, where the stubborn and taciturn Johnson unraveled in the face of hecklers. “The president was frequently interrupted by cheers, by hisses and by cries, apparently from those opposed to him in the crowd,” William Hudson, a reporter for The Cleveland Leader, wrote. When a heckler yelled, “Hang Jeff Davis!” — referring to the former leader of the Confederacy, then held at Fort Monroe in Virginia — Johnson replied, “Why don’t you hang him?” When another shouted, “Thad Stevens” — the chief Radical Republican in the House of Representatives — a now angry Johnson responded with “Why don’t you hang Thad Stevens and Wendell Phillips?” Phillips had been a leading abolitionist.
Johnson continued to speak, struggling to gain the upper hand with the crowd. By the end, however, the president was unhinged. “Come out where I can see you,” he said to one heckler. “If you ever shoot a man, you will do it in the dark and pull the trigger when no one else is by to see.” After witnessing this disastrous performance, an aide urged the president to consider the dignity of the office. Johnson was dismissive. “I don’t care about my dignity,” he reportedly said.
The tour didn’t improve. In St. Louis, as in Cleveland, hecklers yelled “New Orleans” in reference to a massacre that summer in which white Democrats, most of them ex-Confederates, attacked a large gathering of black Republican marchers, killing nearly 50 people. In response, Johnson said the “riot at New Orleans was substantially planned.” But he blamed Radical Republicans who, he said, encouraged the city’s “black population to arm themselves and prepare for the shedding of blood.” At this point, someone in the crowd called him a “traitor,” which — as Garry Boulard recounts in “The Swing Around the Circle: Andrew Johnson and the Train Ride That Destroyed a Presidency” — Johnson angrily denounced with one of the strangest tirades of the tour: “I have been traduced! I have been slandered. I have been maligned. I have been called Judas — Judas Iscariot and all of that.”
By the time it was over, Johnson had been humiliated and his reputation was in tatters. In The Atlantic Monthly, the essayist Edwin Percy Whipple summarized elite opinion of Johnson’s tour:
Never before did the first office in the gift of the people appear so poor an object of human ambition as when Andrew Johnson made it an eminence on which to exhibit inability to behave and incapacity to reason. His low cunning conspired with his devouring egoism to make him throw off all the restraints of official decorum, in the expectation that he would find duplicates of himself in the crowds he addressed and that mob diffused would heartily sympathize with Mob impersonated. Never was a blustering demagogue led by a distempered sense of self-importance into a more fatal error.
All of this would resurface in 1868, when the House adopted its 11 articles of impeachment against the president. Among them was a reference to his summer swing through the North — to the idea that Johnson had sullied the office of the presidency with dangerous, demagogic rhetoric. In its 10th article of impeachment, the House of Representatives accused Johnson of being “unmindful of the high duties of his office and the dignity and proprieties thereof.” His behavior, they argued, was an “attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach the Congress of the United States” and to “impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof.”Article 10 was divisive. Not necessarily because the Congress or its Republican majority had any love for Johnson, but because it raised difficult political and constitutional questions. How could anyone actually prove that Johnson meant to “impair and destroy” the regard of Congress? And while it’s true the president has unique duties, it’s also true that the president is entitled to the same freedom of speech that any other citizen has. His rhetoric was offensive, but was it impeachable?
Johnson’s opponents in the Senate opted not to test the case. They tried the president on just three articles of impeachment. And if not for the last-minute (and arguably self-interested) defection of Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas, Johnson would have been cast from office, the first president to be impeached and removed.
This is all to say that Trump easily meets the Andrew Johnson standard for impeachable rhetoric. For nearly three years, he has used the presidency to stir anger and incite hatred. He has rallied crowds with racist demagogy and threatened opponents with violence from his supporters. “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people,” Trump said in an interview with Breitbart in March. “But they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” On Tuesday, he accused his Democratic opponents of orchestrating a coup.
If impeachment is about a pattern of behavior — if it’s about the sum total of a transgressive, unethical and unlawful presidency — then this rhetoric must be part of the final account. And it is a difficult case; we don’t want to criminalize speech. But presidential rhetoric isn’t just speech — it is a form of power, and like most of his other powers, Trump has been abusing it.
A president loyal only to himself uses my community as a political weapon.
The major debate tearing apart the American Jewish community on this particular Wednesday is whether or not the 45th president of the United States just accused them — us — of disloyalty to Israel and the Jewish people or of disloyalty to the Republican Party and the man who has remade it in his image.
“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” President Trump said on Tuesday, referring to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswomen who support the boycott movement against Israel. “And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
As my people say: Nu?
What do you hear in the president’s statement, which, like many things he blurts out, manages to be both opaque and outrageous at once? If you’re pro-Trump or Trump-curious, you’ll generously hear an assertion that Jews should be loyal to Israel. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hear echoes of the sinister charge of dual loyalty.
I’ve been around enough tables with pro-Trump Jews to strongly suspect that this is a riff on a theme Mr. Trump himself has overheard at many dinners with Ivanka and Jared, the favorite daughter and dauphin: dismay that even those Jews who have appreciated the president’s Israel policies — moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cracking down on Iran — will never pull the lever for him.
It’s easy to imagine what they say: Look how much you’ve done. More than any other president. They should be grateful. Why can’t they see that? Why can’t they see that the Democratic Party has abandoned them? Meantime, you’re more pro-Israel than most American Jews! Indeed, on Wednesday afternoon at the White House, Mr. Trump clarified as much: “If you want to vote Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and very disloyal to Israel.”
Brace yourself for further presidential Twitter rants on the matter because I do not believe that Mr. Trump is capable of higher-order thoughts about loyalty — loyalty to the office in which he sits, loyalty to the Republic, and, above all, loyalty to the idea of keeping America united. Fealty to him is the only litmus test.
Indeed, if we have learned anything about the former host of “The Apprentice,” it is that he looks at the world in the exact way he looked at those contestants. You’re a winner or you’re a loser. You’re for him or you’re a turncoat. In his small mind, if you’re on Team Jew, you vote for his party because Republicans are pro-Israel and, therefore, pro-Jew. If you’re on Team Anti-Semite, well, then you vote for the other guys.
All of which is why I have zero doubt that if the prime minister of Israel criticized Mr. Trump on the wrong day or in the wrong way, the president would dump Israel at that very moment. And it is why anyone with a shred of knowledge about Jewish history should be extremely concerned.
If 2,000 years of diasporic living has taught the Jews anything, it’s that an existence that is contingent upon the kindness of strangers is never too safe or too long lasting. A president with authoritarian tendencies who cares about nothing more than lock-step loyalty is not one American Jews, let alone anyone, can rely on.
More to the point: Will white supremacists, like the one arrested Monday in Ohio, or the one arrested Tuesday in Miami, parse these Talmudic distinctions about who was, in fact, the subject of the disloyalty in that Tuesday sentence? Or will they hear — as they have always heard in this president’s rants against the globalists, the elitists, the invading immigrants organized by George Soros, and all the shady forces keeping the hard-working men and women of America down — the word “Jew”?
The Jews of America are in the midst of a political crisis, sped along at breakneck speed by a president asking us, bluntly, to choose. Vote for a party whose base seems increasingly in thrall with newbie politicians who are unapologetic supporters of the B.D.S. movement, a new face of old anti-Semitism, even as the party’s leadership remains pro-Israel. Or vote for the party led by a man who is loyal to nothing but himself, who actively sets Americans against one other, and, more, genuinely seems to thrill at creating a disunited state of America.
We are increasingly a people apart. Which self-mutilation, so many of us wonder, is worse? Abandon the universal values our community has always championed? Or abandon the particularism without which we cease to be Jews at all?
Our predicament would be entirely familiar to the Jews of Babylon and Berlin and every community that has been erased in between. But that it is facing the greatest diaspora in Jewish history has shocked those who always believed we were the lucky ones.
To preserve all that has ever made American Jews — and America — great, we cannot allow this man to tear us apart.