Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/01/going-back-normal-too-dangerous-even-contemplate
Dr. Reich, you say:
So the central question: In an exhausted and divided America that desperately wants a return to normal, can Biden find the energy and political will for bold changes that are imperative?
I would respectfully disagree. I would say the central question(s) is/are: A) Does PE Biden recognize the need for bold changes that are imperative? B) Does PE Biden recognize that the corrupt duopoly-party DNC/RNC and corporate-controlled-and-corrupted political/government system actively works (as its prime MO) to prevent such changes? C) Does PE Biden appreciate (as Sen. Sanders did/does) that the only way to resolve B) is to motivate the American Public to mobilize and march on Washington (in the manner of MLK) and demand action?
PE Biden’s history provides a clear answer to all three questions: ‘No, no and no.’ The only recourse is for the American people to march on Washington without the support of the president (which would have likely been forthcoming from a President Sanders), and face the almost guaranteed brutal suppression that will meet them/us. Our choice is mass protest, or perish.
I am a huge Robert Reich fan, and read this article with relish. I do, however quibble with his use or overuse perhaps, of the word ‘normal’.
The intentions of our Founders were certainly not that corporations dominate our governance, own our Representatives and Senators, nor, in a true democracy, is that even remotely normal.
“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country”
I do understand that by normal Reich meant a return to the status quo, which was hardly normal in the first place.
The sales pitch that David Koch was running on in 1980 on the Libertarian ticket was that government is bad, corporations are good. You can trust corporations.
But the reality is that the government that we have, which perhaps millions of Americans have literally fought and died to create and protect - George Washington had three horses shot out from underneath him trying to create this government - should be of, by, and for we the people, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln.
Corporations are never of, by, and for we the people, corporations are always of, by, and for the profit. And there’s nothing wrong with that intrinsically unless it is absolutely unregulated, which is the direction that we’ve moving since Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1983.
What the Koch brothers are basically saying is: the government is terrible, you can’t trust yourself to govern yourself, so we will govern for you by controlling the economy. It’s the economy is more important than democracy. The marketplace is more important than democracy.
That’s BS. It is a lie that the billionaires have frankly and sadly got a lot of Americans to believe. And once you go down that road, if you get rid of our government and you replace it with a bunch of monopolistic corporations, then you have lost all your freedom. The only thing that is standing between us and absolute corporate subjection as we had when our government was weak prior to the 1910s basically was corporate regulation.
Look at the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado. People went on strike for decent wages. And what did the railroad do? They brought in machine guns and shot up not just the railroad workers but their families in the tents that they were sleeping in.
The Pullman Porter strike. The Haymarket Square riot. It just goes on and on and on.
Please list the names of Biden nominees to date who do NOT have a return to normal track record ?
There is another way to ‘change the system’, and that is to change the System. This is the ‘red-lever’ method (referring to the emergency red brake lever in all railroad cars.) The Progressive movement could rise up in this country (via mass protests in each and every state) to hold an ‘Article V’ Constitutional Convention (2/3 of states required to sign on.) Yes, I’m aware the Kroch (sic) brothers’ neo-fascist organizations are trying to do the same thing to install irrevocable fascism in this country, which is why ‘we’ need to beat them to it, and insure that ‘we’ control the process. Yes, it’s dangerous as Heck, but the alternative is more so. Here are few musings on what a CC could do:
*** A constitutional amendment to enhance our democracy, including:
Elimination of the un-democratic Electoral College
Universal and instant enfranchisement, corruption-free voting, with paper records, and local counting of votes.
Enlightened voting - e.g., 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice selection, free use of the public airwaves for electioneering
Proportional voting in the Senate, to keep Montanans from having 10x the electoral voice as New Yorkers or Californians, for example (may not require a CC)
Making Washington DC and Puerto Rico states (does not require a CC)
Most importantly: Making monetary contributions to any candidate to a Federal office a crime, and instituting free-and-fair publicly paid-for elections
Congressional districts determined by Court-appointed non-partisan committees to guidelines guaranteeing political and racial non-bias.
Voting in both houses to be by instant electronic roll-call only.
With the signing by 10% of members of either chamber, any bill can be brought to a vote of the full chamber, within 1 week of the request
The end of the Senate filibuster, and other un-democratic practices of that body, with all majority voting (proportionally in the Senate), on all issues, except where otherwise and previously required in the Constitution (does not require a CC, but insuring against the filibuster does)
*** A constitutional amendment to fix and enshrine the war powers act
Entirely eliminate the power of a President to effectively start a war, without a declaration of war, which then has to be re-enabled by Congress every month.
Nullification of all previous Executive orders with each new president
*** A constitutional amendment, implementing FDR’s ‘second Bill of Rights’, including
A right to health care
A right to shelter and healthful nourishment
A right to gainful employment
A right right to higher education
A right to a healthful environment, including clean air, clean water, protected wild lands
A guaranteed right for a habitable world for future generations
A right to be secure in ones person, to be secure against unlawful detention, official violence, torture and mayhem, and all forms of forceful coercion except under explicit due process
*** A constitutional amendment to fix our faltering judicial system
An end to the parallel private ‘justice for the rich and powerful’ judicial agreements
A one-month statute of limitations on standing trial after arrest and/or charges - after which/otherwise charges must be dropped with (innocent) prejudice.
An end to secrecy in the courts (secret agreements, secret hearings, etc.)
A guaranteed funding level necessary to guarantee ’speedy trial’ justice guaranteed in the first bill of rights (probably necessitating increasing the court budget x10.)
A constitutional end to industrial incarceration and America’s being the world’s most imprisoned nation
An end to blatantly racist jurisprudence and punishment.
An end to cash-bail at all judicial levels.
An end to lifetime appointments of judges, and an increase of the size of the Supreme Court to 19.
Implementation of mandatory and binding approval-review of Supreme Court nominees by a non-partisan standing committee of Law School Peers.
A constitutional amendment to federalize private incorporation law, so that
All US corporations must be incorporated by uniform US law, not state law
All corporate charters will require that the good of the nation and its people are as important to the goals of the corporation as returns to share-holders
Violations of this public trust will result in immediate revocation of the corporate charter
Corporate labor must be represented (including sub-contracted labor) on the board, and 33% ownership by labor (including sub-contracted labor) will be mandatory.
Corporations are explicitly not entitled to the constitutional protections of people: “Corporations are not people, my friend.”
*** A constitutional amendment to end government secrecy: A government that serves its people cannot keep secrets from them - every official action, document, decision and expenditure by every government employee and official must be made public within 60 days, without exception; destruction of records for the purpose of concealment shall be construed as treason.
*** A constitutional amendment enshrining protection of our home planet, Earth, as a fundamental responsibility of the Federal Government, as a key, if not the key, ingredient of the Citizenry’s well-being.
*** A constitutional amendment to embolden and clarify the rights of unionized labor, to put labor on an equal if not superior footing as capital.
*** A constitutional amendment to implement a yearly progressive wealth tax, and tax on all financial transactions above a certain level (e.g. $100,000 - to insure progressivity)
Is Bernie Sanders going to allow himself to be “trapped in the Cabinet” like you Bob?
Anyone who promoted voting for the guy who promised “back to normal”, is not allowed to complain when he gets what he voted for.
Be fair, he only promoted such voting after all better options had been quashed.
If we define “normal” as neoliberalism, then yes, that’s dangerous.
Certainly, Prof. Reich would disagree.
You’re right to point out the many, absolutely fundamental problems we have. Joe Biden is part of the problem: He’s spent his career helping built the shit we’re in, and made it abundantly clear (nothing ill fundamentally change, I’d veto Medicare For All) that he’s a do-nothing-beyond-minuscule-to-offend the powerful, kind of guy: He’d rather work with them.
“So the central question: In an exhausted and divided America that desperately wants a return to normal, can Biden find the energy and political will for bold changes that are imperative?”
We have to be the Energy at his back Pushing for Progress!
No more hoping for a changing…
What I want to know is, where is our liberal Trump?
I hate to say it, but if you want change in a Republic you need to vote for it.
I was yearnin’ for Bern before he even ran in 2016. Yet, I have to accept the fate that befalls US. Just glad the trash goes out 12:00 PM 20 January 2021!
I too am becoming more and more of a fan of Robert Reich.
Your post - right on the mark imo !
Unregulated corporations - a death sentence for we the people.
Right. In a quite similar way that the DNC would rather work with DT than with Sanders or Warren.
Biden’s answer to the “central question” - “Nothing will fundamentally change”
But all better options hadn’t been quashed - and haven’t been for over a quarter of a century - the problem is we didn’t vote for 'em …
Spot on, as usual, Professor!
Given the damage that this administration has done and the challenge of the pandemic, I’m hoping it just can’t be the same neoliberal business as usual that begat 45.
I’m hoping that such extraordinary times will make an extraordinary president out of an ordinary man.
Mostly all his picks so far suggest not.
Hmm, I dunno, it seems to me we need to be the hammer hitting him over the head…