Have Americans lost the ability to talk politics? Recent studies show the country is more divided than ever before, and it’s only getting worse. In a lively talk at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, professor Robert Reich outlines what he sees as the main causes of the problem, and how we might be able to address them.
Political fights are a staple of American history. From the Civil Rights Movement to Vietnam, we haven’t always agreed. But, we used to agree on how to disagree, Reich says. He believes we have lost our respect, tolerance, and openness to the ideas of others. And making matters worse, we no longer trust government institutions to handle our disagreements.
Reich lays out three key factors he believes led to the current climate: geographic tribalism, stagnant incomes, and the media. Our opinions are most influenced by those around us, he says. And over time, we have separated ourselves into ‘red states’ and ‘blue states,’ becoming entrenched in political identities with little tolerance for outside opinions. Incomes have stopped growing with the economy, leading many to feel the system is rigged. Reich says politicians have latched on to that feeling to gain support. At the same time, a proliferation of media outlets has left each fighting for attention. One way to catch a viewer’s eye he says, is to stoke anger.
But, Reich says all is not lost. He lays out how each of us can do our part to bring civility back to political discourse. It all starts he says, with one conversation.
There are just days left before the 2018 midterms, and analysts are split over what we can expect. Will there be a so-called blue wave, or will Republicans retain control of all branches of government?
That’s just one of the questions addressed by three political heavy-hitters at the Goldman School of Public Policy during a live-streamed discussion this week. Professor Robert B. Reich, Dean Henry E. Brady, and University of California President and Goldman School Professor Janet Napolitano gave their best predictions for Tuesday. Napolitano predicts Democrats will take back the house, but possibly lose ground in the Senate. Reich points to gerrymandering and voter suppression, saying it’s unlikely Democrats will be able to pick up a majority in either house. Brady looks at historical methods of predicting midterm results, but questions whether the old rules still apply.
But, the discussion doesn’t stop at predictions. The panel weighs in on what they see as the biggest issues for voters, how we got to this point in American politics, and what might happen next. Reich lays out three things he believes the Democratic party needs to focus on whether they win or lose on Tuesday, and gives a riveting monologue about the role of truth in a democracy. The discussion ends on a high note, with Reich and Napolitano sharing why they’re optimistic about the future of politics in the United States.
So, you like Bernie? Does his campaign pledge to address income inequality appeal to you? Then you should check out what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has to say about how the basic rules of capitalism are stacked in favor of those at the top and what can be done to shape market forces so that more people share in economic prosperity.
Just watching these two old friends on stage together, both liberal icons in economics and academia, is a true delight.
Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich reminisce here about their days in the Clinton Administration, recalling the pushback from fellow cabinet members for labeling certain policies “corporate welfare” and criticizing excessive salaries for C-suite executives. They have issues with Obama, too, particularly on trade. And don’t get them started on Super PACs and the influence of money on politics! Will they be there for Hillary in 2016?
For a dose of humor along with a lesson on the politics of income inequality across America, treat yourself to some Stiglitz and Reich.
Before he became a professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, Robert Reich served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.
An auther of thirteen books, chairman of Common Cause and a regular contributor to public radio’s “Marketplace,” Reich is a dynamic public speaker who doesn’t hold back when it comes to his opinions and predictions on the economy, the presidential election, tax policy and more.