1 thought on “U.S. POLITICS: “How to Respond to Bernie skeptics?” / Robert Reich ☮

  1. Robert Reich is one of my favorite economists and political thinkers. Another is Paul Krugman. In terms of the Sanders/Clinton divide, however, I side with Krugman (Read his “Conscience of a Liberal” on Electability posting, Feb. 6). A plausible case for Sanders being an effective president can be made but it would not be anything related to what Reich says here. There may even be a plausible case for him winning the nomination although it’s a long shot. But what Reich is engaging in here and what Salon and Huff Post are now fully engaged in is telling the Sandernistas what they want to hear. Reich is a true believer and I respect that but the online sites recognize that ad hominem attacks on Clinton and endless scenarios in which Sanders will win drive clicks and ad revenue. Does anyone really apply any critical thinking to these pieces?

    Further, is anyone actually talking to this oppressed middle class? Is anyone aware of how socially conservative many of them remain? Or, how Pavlovian is their negative response is to “socialist” which even the addition “democratic” means little? Did we learn nothing from the debate over Obamacare? Is it really a surprise that the vast majority of unions are supporting Clinton? How much more evidence does it take for white liberals to understand that many Americans do not always vote their financial and class status?

    Oh, and Reich foresees a new generation of politically engaged young people? Been waitin’ for that for, oh, decades. Attacking the foggy ‘establishment’ (a surrogate for their parents) is cracking good fun. Gettin’ the blood up and stoking outrage on social media, feelin’ the Bern, trolling Clinton supporters…all smashing good sport. Voting and remaining engaged beyond a presidential election…not so much. That’s why Republicans kick our asses in non-election years and run the country. White liberals apparently think in terms of cyclical revolutions; white conservatives know the hard work of change is perennial and evolutionary.

    Sanders and Reich are correct about the single-payer system being the best solution for American health care and that it would save money. But it’s a complex argument to make in a political season and Americans don’t do complex. What we might have a long-shot chance of is getting the government option back into the ACA, along with some other fixes proposed by Clinton. This would have a major impact on health care costs and show people how government leverage in buying can work—then you go for a single-payer system once people see the sky has not fallen on them. Gradualism is less fun, there’s little ‘burn’, but it makes more sense than calling for a revolution wherein no one shows up.

    I think the debate we are having in Sanders/Clinton is a good one… if we can keep it on track and make it less about Bernie and Hillary and more about how you really, truly, effect social and political change. But pieces like this and the ones we are now seeing on Salon and Huff Post are examples of what Krugman calls self-indulgence, reading and believing things because one likes the narrative rather than any good evidence of it being true.

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