Robert Reich: How To Build Progressive Power – OpEd


Even in these dark times, I am confident that we can defeat Donald Trump and all he stands for. But it will require building a multiracial, middle, and working class coalition dedicated to renewing our democracy and creating an economy that works for all, not just the privileged few. Here’s how:

First: At the heart of this coalition must be deep and abiding commitment to the democratic principles of political equality, equal opportunity, and justice for all. These same ideals that animated many of us—both white and black Americans—to fight for civil rights and voting rights in the 1960s.

Second: Central to renewing our democracy is getting big money out of politics. For decades, the wealthy and corporations have flooded our political system with campaign contributions and lobbying dollars. In turn, Washington has rewritten the rules of the economy in their favor. This vicious cycle of money and politics funnels more and more wealth and power to those at the top.

Third: We have to ensure the economy works for all Americans, not just the wealthy and corporations. Since the 1980s, the wages and economic prospects of the typical American have gone nowhere. Nearly 80 percent now live paycheck to paycheck, and those paychecks have grown less secure.

Addressing these economic hardships requires a bold agenda: a basic income, a jobs guarantee, Medicare-for-All, access to free public colleges and universities, stronger unions, and worker representation on corporate boards.

Fourth and finally: whether you voted for Bernie or Hillary or anybody else, we must put aside our differences. If we fail to do this, we are playing into the hands of those who seek to divide us. Trump and his enablers will continue to try to divide us, stoking racial divisions, stirring animosity, and breeding confusion and despair. We must not let them.

We have never been a perfect union. Our finest moments have always been when we sought to become more perfect than we had been. Together, we can do so again.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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