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Why We Must Try


Why We Must Try

Robert Reich

Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.”

We shouldn’t try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare.

We shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour.

We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank.


If this guy doesn't at least get asked to join Bernie's cabinet, I for one will be greatly disappointed.


This should be required reading, thanks Robert!

"important public goals can be achieved – if the public is mobilized behind them" - and Congress can be changed to support goals that enhance and embrace the Common Good if the people demand such change believing that their lives their families will be improved beyond what nay-sayers keep telling them. A vibrant economy and future is driven by the many, not the few! Trickle-up economics, not trickle-down!

"We must get big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism, and make our economy and democracy work for the many, not just the few."

The rule of vulture capitalism and vast wealth controlling our electoral processes must be overturned - the Citizens United decision was a travesty and a tragic/criminal decision that empowered the most wealthy above all others. Rightwing/corporate justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and the swing-vote Kennedy are responsible for the decision and corrupted state of American politics. If wealth is tantamount to "free speech" it follows that those controlling such wealth are more equal than those of modest means, and that is as un-American as it gets, violating the basic principle of "One Person, One Vote" and much else!


Incredibly, "No we can't" has been the Democrats' philosophy for decades now.

If Clinton wins this election, she will do to the cause of real economic reform what she did to healthcare reform in the 90s.


It Might be said abi, that the Dem hierarchy, the DLC, DNC under D W-S., and "leadership" of Bill Clinton, Obama, Hillary and the rest of the Dem corporate hacks said "No we won't". Many/most rank and file Dems and others still worked for justice but got little or no real leadership from above. IF the principled candidacy and leadership of Bernie Sanders gets the support he and his/our message deserves that dynamic might be really changed! The progressive legacy of FDR and Eleanor, and Adlai Stevenson, et al, must be restored!


You're right about that. For a very long time, the leadership has always found ways to give us candidates who prove themselves to be "No we can't" types. But Sanders is different. Sanders broke through and is giving us a real choice. But if we voters end up swallowing all the Clinton spin and vote for her, we won't be able to blame the leadership or the media anymore. We'll only have ourselves to blame.

I think it's pretty clear that most Americans are ready for "hope and change." In 2008 we voted for it but didn't get it. Voting for Clinton is voting for no hope and no change.


I really appreciate Reich's lucid detailing, one by one, of the reasons we need change on the scale advocated by Bernie Sanders. Good, clear talking points when we're in discussion with people who like Bernie, but fear we need "a good manager." Manager of what, we can ask? Of the status quo, ,which is .... The plain, simple reasons can get lost in the fog of campaign rhetoric.


A few years ago, a column like this probably would have flown over the heads of most people. We can thank Bernie Sanders for hammering away at the notion of "we can't." Because the cesspool that is our Congress has not represented us properly for decades, but instead played to corporate interests under the ruse of pragmatism, We the People have largely become a nation trapped by our elected representatives rhetoric, psychologically frozen into inaction and self-disrespect.

To a large extent, Bernie has won a huge victory already by empowering so many political actors and opening the hearts and minds of many Americans to what is possible. Win or lose, he's lit a fire, provided much needed energy to those already working in the democracy movement, and is the best recruiter for systemic change we've seen in a long time.


Thank you, Robert, a million times. And may many more with your influence follow.

I just want to give you a big hug. :O)


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Does anyone have a good list of progressive politicians who either are in or are running for office?


"at the risk of annoying my Facebook friends I post these on my timeline daily! (:"

me too. :O)


"Psychological projection, also known as blame shifting, is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others"

Former President and wannabe First Husband, Bill Clinton, came up with this doozy, he said Bernie is living in a hermetically sealed box. Way to go Willy. How's life in the Great Bubble? Mr. Reich has done some good things since leaving the Great Bubble, this is an excellent distillation.


In addition to getting money out of politics we need a new way draw congressional districts. After the 2010 election in which Republican governors did exceptionally well they took gerrymandering to a new level. There are now so many extremely conservative districts that it would take a tidal wave of support for Democrats in order for the Republicans to lose the House. It is so bad that a few years ago even though total votes for the House races favored the Democrats the Republicans still won a large majority of the seats. What we need is states to have some independent body draw up the congressional districts. That is only way the voice of the majority of people can be fairly represented in the House. Otherwise, we will continue to have what we have now. For example, Obama just proposed a $10 tax on a barrel of oil which could be used to fight climate change and Paul Ryan said forget about it. Progressive change cannot happen as long as the House is gerrrymandered to prevent it. That should be pretty obvious. That impediment must be removed. Once House districts are drawn fairly then if the majority of people want progressive change it can have a real chance of happening. To me that is yet another inconvenient truth.


My favorite arguments against incramentalism (sp?):
1. a step to the left and a leap to the right, is still a step to the right.
2. which also tricks people into thinking they 'did something' when in fact it consistently reinforces the opposite.


Erisx, What's a progressive? (Couldn't resist!)

VoteSmart provides information on candidates based on your profile: http://votesmart.org/voteeasy/

Many issue organizations develop profiles around candidates too. I have found this a more reliable way to find candidates that support my specific issues, although it requires a lot more effort than using VoteSmart.


Nice thought!


I like your analysis, Mr. Reich, but please don't join the legion of pundits who always manage to leave out women's rights (and the element of Gender, altogether)! For centuries, women did not own property and they certainly weren't allowed to vote. That came LATE to this nation. It deserves mention in this paragraph:

"Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as naïve to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act."

With a huge demographic pushing to turn America into a Christian Theocracy, it's important to speak openly about women's rights. The old patriarchs intend to take them away starting with women's control over their own bodies, i.e. reproductive sovereignty.


I have pointed out that posters often can be tied to specific Talking Points.

"Andrew Boston" daily lays indictments that paint all of humanity as evil, stupid, and/or corrupt. (Perhaps he's a reptile, he doesn't appear to recognize himself as part of this same humanity he daily hammers.) And this messaging is meant to plant a poison seed of cynicism useful for derailing discussions away from the topic tied to the article under discussion.

Here are just a few of this genius' recent postings. They prove my point. He just wishes to discredit ALL human beings, turn genuine achievement into mush, and blame all for what is done by a relative few:

that few "Americans" even notice that there might be something "wrong" about our country operating a torture camp in another sovereign nation ....
there is no hope for peace and justice .... or even sanity in this world

Too many dumb humans can't think beyond their animal instincts.

Norway is a rank exception in a world that sucks ...
Humans are mostly irrational fools -- and war is as natural as ________

Now what kind of "human being" gets up early (he's always among the first to post on working days) to say this type of thing in endless repetition?

Prior to the "arrival" of Andrew Boston, another poster did precisely the same thing.

It is likely being financed by some entity that is not interested in seeing any Progressive Agenda unfold.

Here is today's "prize":


"More Americans would rather vote for Hitler than a "socialist" or even an actual progressive......"


Mr. Reich is partially correct, but is simultaneously playing a game of smoke and mirrors.
He must, after all, keep his lucrative contracts in the current system going.

It is the very nature of currency that needs to be questioned.
Oil based monetary exchanges are the root of the burning planet.
"15 dollars" is meaningless.
But that is what the simple minded understand.

Please stop deluding the masses further.
Use your soap box for a real future, Mr. Reich, not to enrich yourself alone.