Robert B. Reich discusses his book, “The Common Good”, at a Politics and Prose event at Sixth and I historic synagogue in Washington, DC on 2/22/18.
Robert B. Reich has been one of America’s leading political thinkers since he served as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. A constant voice for social change, Reich is the author of 14 books, including the best-sellers Saving Capitalism and The Work of Nations. Now, he makes the case for restoring the idea of the common good to the center of our economics, our politics, and our national identity. The Common Good argues that societies undergo both virtuous and vicious cycles, and that the vicious cycle the U.S. is now undergoing can and must be reversed. Reich challenges us to weigh what really matters, and to join forces to save America’s soul.
Civic things but instead I worked for
the Democratic Party of Arkansas in 2014
I heard a lot of oh I love the
Affordable Care Act and I realized that
my health care is important but I just
can’t vote for people who kill babies
and I know that my mom has some
sentiments and I’m glad that she votes
this way even though she sometimes has
some issues with people that aren’t
necessarily like us but she says you
know if they’re gonna take away my right
to the right of choice I would never
vote for them and so I’m fine with her
voting for Democrats even though that’s
probably not where she would align
ourselves but how do we deal with people
I’m not sure you’re familiar with the
campaign talk you never engage of five
so when somebody’s like I’m just not
gonna vote for somebody because they
kill babies like you just you move on
how do we deal with people who are like
that um yeah I mean we’re seeing it a
lot with the gun debate I don’t want to
I don’t want a caricature certainly not
your mom but people who have one issue
and they feel deeply about it and they
think it’s the most important issue at
all and it is their litmus test for all
politics and all politicians and there
are going to be people like that and you
know I think it’s important to respect
their views and not to denigrate them
and I don’t want to get too much
involved in you and your mom let me just
say that every every Thanksgiving every
Christmas every you know my students
they a ganar about going home because
they always have an Uncle Louie or
somebody who voted for Trump or who is
just you know in the 19th century and
they don’t know how to talk to them and
I would say they’re really there there’s
something that I try to do and I don’t
do it well but it’s I call it eloquent
listening which is which means you you
really open yourself up to what they are
trying to tell you and you allow
yourself and give yourself permission to
possibly be persuaded and you repeat
back to them what they said to you so
that they know and you know that you
really understand them and that can be a
gateway to communication because once
people feel safe in terms of sharing
their deepest values they can then be
open to maybe if not reconsidering them
at least understanding where you’re
coming from that’s something we’re not
We Used to Build Things
When you look back at that era, you are struck by how many civic institutions were founded to address the nation’s problems. Not only the Forest Service, but also the Food and Drug Administration, the municipal reform movement, the suffrage movement, the Federal Reserve System, the Boy Scouts, the 4-H clubs, the settlement house movement, the compulsory schooling movement, and on and on. Four amendments to the Constitution were passed in those years.
In fact, when you look back on most periods of American history you see a rash of new organizations being created. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin helped build the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Fire Department, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The American Philosophical Society, the Pennsylvania Hospital and much else.
.. In the 1930s, the alphabet soup of New Deal agencies were created. The late 1940s saw the creation of the big multinational institutions: the U.N., NATO, the World Bank, the I.M.F., the beginnings of the European market.
When you look around today, you see a lot of history-making new companies being created, but you don’t see too many big civic organizations... I wonder if there is also a malaise, a loss of faith in the future and a loss of expertise in institution building, a sense of general fragmentation and isolation. American foreign policy, which used to be about building positive coalitions to make life better, now seems to be based on the idea that we should defensively withdraw from things. There has been a loss of civic imagination... one could have said the same thing in 1890, when politics was steeped in corruption and the economy wracked by crisis. But by 1910 the landscape was transformed. There were new organizations, new movements, a new mentality and a new burst of optimism.
Even the worst fires clear the way for new growth.
Trump’s Clueless about Civics
He demonstrated staggering ignorance of what the judiciary branch does with an emphatic reference to a “bill” that several federal judges had “signed.” He seems to believe that the president can jail a political foe, hire and fire generals at will, and command the military to break the law.
He’s clueless about free speech. He threatened to sue Ted Cruz for showing a video of his actual, undisputed pro-abortion comments from the past. After the conservative journalist Rich Lowry assessed his candidacy unkindly, Trump suggested that the Federal Communications Commission fine him.