Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
The London Observer
Al Gore is finally on a roll. But where will it take him? This past week
he's been telling Americans 'we've got to put you first' and not 'the ones
with connections, the ones with wealth, the ones with power above and
beyond what the average family has in this country'. He's for the people,
while 'the other side' is for the powerful. It's good old-fashioned
hell-fire-and-brimstone political rhetoric. During the Thirties, Franklin D.
Roosevelt condemned the 'economic royalists' - America's big businesses
that, he said, were stomping on average Americans. In 1912, progressive
Republican Teddy Roosevelt blamed the 'malefactors of great wealth' for
subjugating the 'little man' of America. In the 1890s, prairie populist
William Jennings Bryan (who almost made it to the White House) railed at
the bankers and other 'powerful interests' who were 'bankrupting'
You'd be forgiven if you thought of the contest for the presidency as two big battles--first, the primary battle to choose each party's nominee, which this year will be effectively over by the end of March, and then the general election battle, which starts just after the nominating conventions in August and runs through Election Day. And you might suppose that in between we'll have a four-and-a-half-month breather.
But you'd be wrong on all counts. One of the most important battles of the entire election is scheduled to occur between April 1 and August 15. That's when the likely Republican and Democratic nominees are expected to launch intense barrages of televised ads designed to raise questions in voters' minds about the suitability of their rivals. The ads will be paid for largely, if not entirely, by big, unregulated donations to the Republican and Democratic national committees "soft money," in campaign lingo.
T his is the hour for reform, not recrimination. To view Ralph Nader as representing the "progressive left," in opposition to liberals and moderates inside the Democratic Party, is to commit grave error. The passions aroused by the Nader campaign have much in common with those elicited by John McCain and Bill Bradley in their primaries. Put simply, we are witnessing the birth pangs of a reform movement in America intent on ending the corruption of our democratic system by organized money. Nader and his Greens may fade, but the determination by millions of Americans to rescue American democracy will only intensify.
This may be the largest and most significant political groundswell since the antiwar movement of the late 1960s. It should not be confused with the rise of the corporate-bashing neoprotectionists, whose beliefs are lineally descended from late-nineteenth-century populism. The lineage of the campaign reformers is progressivism rather than populism. They...
H ow is the new economy affecting our lives and what should be done about its excesses and injustices? This debate is emerging all over the world, but it surfaces only sporadically and partially, like the tip of a giant iceberg into which other things crash.
French workers strike in pursuit of a 35-hour maximum workweek (or in some cases, against it). German industrialists, concerned about high wages and regulations that make it hard to fire or demote employees, begin to move jobs abroad. East Asians, trampled by the stampede of global capital away from their shores several years ago, are deeply ambivalent about its return. Americans march in Seattle against the World Trade Organization .
In a national poll, a majority of Americans say they believe the global economy hurts average people and that good jobs will move overseas. Meanwhile, right-wing movements in several countries fulminate against immigrants and, occasionally, poor minorities in their midst; left-...
T here's no longer any countervailing power in Washington. Business is in complete control of the machinery of government. If corporate America understood its long-term interest, it would use this unique moment to establish in the public's mind the principle that business can be trusted. But it's doing just the opposite. Every industry and every major company is cashing in as fast as it can while the good times last. The danger for business is profound. Credit-card companies are getting a bankruptcy bill that will make it harder for overstretched people who succumb to the companies' blandishments ever to get out from under their debts. Energy companies are on the way to obtaining rights to drill for oil and gas on Alaska's coastal plain. Cigarette manufacturers are confident that the administration will drop the federal lawsuit against them. Pharmaceutical companies will get longer patent protections and more federal dollars. Big labor-intensive businesses will get rules that weaken...