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Reich writes: "The vitriol is worse than I ever recall. Worse than the Palin-induced smarm of 2008. Worse than the swift-boat lies of 2004. Worse, even, than the anything-goes craziness of 2000 and its ensuing bitterness."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

We the People, and the New American Civil War

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

06 November 12


he vitriol is worse than I ever recall. Worse than the Palin-induced smarm pf 2008. Worse than the swift-boat lies of 2004. Worse, even, than the anything-goes craziness of 2000 and its ensuing bitterness.

It's almost a civil war. I know families in which close relatives are no longer speaking. A dating service says Democrats won't even consider going out with Republicans, and vice-versa. My email and twitter feeds contain messages from strangers I wouldn't share with my granddaughter.

What's going on? Yes, we're divided over issues like the size of government and whether women should have control over their bodies. But these aren't exactly new debates. We've been disagreeing over the size and role of government since Thomas Jefferson squared off with Alexander Hamilton, and over abortion rights since before Roe v. Wade, almost forty years ago.

And we've had bigger disagreements in the past - over the Vietnam War, civil rights, communist witch hunts - that didn't rip us apart like this.

Maybe it's that we're more separated now, geographically and online.

The town where I grew up in the 1950s was a GOP stronghold, but Henry Wallace, FDR's left-wing vice president, had retired there quite happily. Our political disagreements then and there didn't get in the way of our friendships. Or even our families - my father voted Republican and my mother was a Democrat. And we all watched Edward R. Murrow deliver the news, and then, later, Walter Cronkite. Both men were the ultimate arbiters of truth.

But now most of us exist in our own political bubbles, left and right. I live in Berkeley, California - a blue city in a blue state - and rarely stumble across anyone who isn't a liberal Democrat (the biggest battles here are between the moderate left and the far-left). The TV has hundreds of channels so I can pick what I want to watch and who I want to hear. And everything I read online confirms everything I believe, thanks in part to Google's convenient algorithms.

So when Americans get upset about politics these days we tend to stew in our own juices, without benefit of anyone we know well and with whom we disagree - and this makes it almost impossible for us to understand the other side.

That geographic split also means more Americans are represented in Congress by people whose political competition comes from primary challengers - right-wing Republicans in red states and districts, left-wing Democrats in blue states and districts. And this drives those who represent us even further apart.

But I think the degree of venom we're experiencing has deeper roots.

The nation is becoming browner and blacker. Most children born in California are now minorities. In a few years America as a whole will be a majority of minorities. Meanwhile, women have been gaining economic power. Their median wage hasn't yet caught up with men, but it's getting close. And with more women getting college degrees than men, their pay will surely exceed male pay in a few years. At the same time, men without college degrees continue to lose economic ground. Adjusted for inflation, their median wage is lower than it was three decades ago.

In other words, white working-class men have been on the losing end of a huge demographic and economic shift. That's made them a tinder-box of frustration and anger - eagerly ignited by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other pedlars of petulance, including an increasing number of Republicans who have gained political power by fanning the flames.

That hate-mongering and attendant scapegoating - of immigrants, blacks, gays, women seeking abortions, our government itself - has legitimized some vitriol and scapegoating on the left as well. I detest what the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Rupert Murdoch, and Paul Ryan are doing, and I hate their politics. But in this heated environment I sometimes have to remind myself I don't hate them personally.

Not even this degree of divisiveness would have taken root had America preserved the social solidarity we had two generations ago. The Great Depression and World War II reminded us we were all in it together. We had to depend on each other in order to survive. That sense of mutual dependence transcended our disagreements. My father, a “Rockefeller” Republican, strongly supported civil rights and voting rights, Medicare and Medicaid. I remember him saying “we're all Americans, aren't we?”

To be sure, we endured 9/11, we've gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we suffered the Great Recession. But these did not not bind us as we were bound together in the Great Depression and World War II. The horror of 9/11 did not touch all of us, and the only sacrifice George W. Bush asked was that we kept shopping. Today's wars are fought by hired guns - young people who are paid to do the work most of the rest of us don't want our own children to do. And the Great Recession split us rather than connected us; the rich grew richer, the rest of us, poorer and less secure.

So we come to the end of a bitter election feeling as if we're two nations rather than one. The challenge - not only for our president and representatives in Washington but for all of us - is to rediscover the public good.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. your social media marketing partner


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+51 # wolf8888 2012-11-06 17:44
Sad that I have to agree with this assesment of our current affairs, how can our elected leaeder, whoever he may be bridge this horrible mind-set, I have seen it here in my own house, my mate is filled with hate and indignation at Obama and she swears by Fox news as being the only true gospel, how can we ever get reconciliation of politicians , when we can not agree, on even to the smallest detail in our own home?
+18 # maddave 2012-11-07 09:19
Insofar as I can see, the widespread loathing - the anger, frustration and fear that we are all feeling - seems rooted in the destruction of our middle class and the rapid demise of the ever-more-elusi ve American Dream.

In 1970 I made $10,000/year and lived well, if simply, with a nice home, a stay-at-home wife-&-three-ki ds and no debt. That was the year that middle class wages hit the still-solid-in- 2012 plateau. Today - with (typically) a couple-with-two -kids working, living in the obligatory a big house and driving the obligatory an SUV - are deep in debt and are never more than just-a-few paychecks away from LIVING in that SUV. . . and, relatively, the socioeconomic crunch on lower economic levels is as-bad-or-worse .

With universal pressure like this, patience and temper run shorter & shorter and the search for scapegoats becomes irrational. Realizing this, the oligarchy---whi ch IS the logical scapegoat---con stantly throws us tasty, malignant bones to divert our attention ONTO one another and AWAY FROM the reality that Corporate America- aided by Congress - is systematically looting our treasury.

The subjective "bones" that we routinely & futilely fight over? How about: "women's health issues", "Obamacare", gay rights, gay marriage, DADT in the military, various church vs. state issues, the mythical 47%, Islam, race . . . . . (n).

We CAN do better!
+3 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 00:55
Wolf and Maddave - Agree with both of you. One of the main problems I see is the inability of people to distinguish between facts and opinions. Just because Limbaugh or a pundit on Fox says something, doesn't automatically make it a fact. Many people are socialized to see white men (and women) who talk authoritatively , as telling the "ultimate" truth. (Religious leaders, for instance.) Many people are not socialized to think critically, or to look elsewhere for more info or corroboration. And many of the "pundits" are very good at telling the part of the truth that makes them look good, or, at least, doesn't make them look bad.

These people believe so strongly in their opinions, many of which are supported by these idealogues, that they find it impossible to say "I might be wrong." It is also possible that many peopkle have a fear of being "wrong."

It's not a crime to be wrong; the bigger crime lies in not being able to admit it.

Believing that one is not WRONGH, one then gets the luxury of believing that everyone els IS. Because a person is in denial of facts that don't fit their ideology, they then get to blame everyone who sees things differently.

As was put by the A.A. people, denial is the disease that doesn't allow a person to name the disease. Anytime you run into denial or blame, I think that is where most people get stuck.
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-11-09 01:31
Until a few years ago, I did not watch much television. Now that I'm retired and do not have to commuute 140 miles round trip to work, I have taken an active interest in politics. I'm a registered Independent. A few years ago, I started flipping channels, became aware of Fox News. At first Bill O'Reilly, really seemed like a honorable person, soothing voice. Would sign off with "looking out for you." Then, I watched and listened with horror to others, Glenn Beck. It quickly struck me that I was watching and listening to the right-wing fringe lunatics, paricularly Beck. Previous to experiencing O'Reilly and Beck, the only time I watched anything on Fox News broadcast was football games. Soon, after Beck and O'Reilly I became aware of Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham. It did not take long to realize that I was being exposed to a horribly lunatic media, right here in the United States. A country I was proud of in my youth. The countless millions of corporate dollars that were being lavished on Fox News to recruit the low information voter and cause them to become hate addicts. There are other ways to attempt to build up the voting power of the Republican base. Honorable ways to attract the attention of the low information voter rather than using and generating anger and hatred. I now understand a Republican, a politician who said, "if we do not generate more angry old white men in this party, this party is out of business." I'm really concerned about this country. Leave it?
+64 # kenecon 2012-11-06 19:14
The hate and vitriol has come primarily from Republican extremist Tea Party and the purveyors of corporate plunder. As weak willed and compromised the Dems are, they have not spewed the never ending stream of hate heard in the media, the halls of Congress and on the street. Obama for all his faults has been civil, so have Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. It isn't the Dems who are trying to suppress minority voters or keep women from choosing what is medically best for their health. The GOP uses nastiness as an offensive tactic. The Dems use offensiveness as a defensive response, except when they speak about Ralph Nader. Still, the Dems have little to offer us in solving the big problems, particularly, climate change and imperial wars, financial reform and civil liberties. A new political culture is needed outside the one-party-two-r ight-wings box in which we will still be trapped regardless of the Election's outcome.
+14 # Hey There 2012-11-07 00:19
"You can't teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and annoys the pig." I quote. I have a hairdresser,two friends,and Gasp! a son who are at opposite ends of what my politics are as a "liberal". We usually discuss other things as I think that I and those I know as individuals have no influence on what politicians will do, they having their own agendas. So even if I were able to convince them to change their minds it wouldn't affect how things are being run.
Some battles aren't worth fighting to an agreement while others that will carry some weight in the outcome of things definitely are.
+8 # Hey There 2012-11-07 00:21
I'm with you.
+4 # engelbach 2012-11-07 04:42
Well said!
+28 # RMDC 2012-11-07 05:46
kenecon -- yes, the teaparty and the Koch inspired movement is a politics of hate. There is no hate coming from the Obama camp. I have often wished he would get more passionate and show at least some contempt for the republican activists who are really only a front for the worst corporations, banks, and neo-con foreign policies. He's too nice to them.
+16 # Ralph Averill 2012-11-07 07:42
". the Dems have little to offer us in solving the big problems, particularly, climate change and imperial wars, financial reform and civil liberties."
The Democrats have a great deal to offer, but it takes two to tango. It is the Republicans who have forgotten that compromise and respect is the soul of a democracy, as you have so eloquently pointed out in your post.
+8 # pbbrodie 2012-11-07 08:51
I am tired of reading about the need to abandon the two party system and attempting to build a third party, which is next to impossible. All that is necessary is to duplicate what the Tea Party and ultra right wind Republicans did to the Republican Party and that is to simply take control of the Democratic Party and bend it to progressive's wishes. This would be much easier to do than to attempt to build a third party from the ground up and its viability has already been proven.
+2 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 01:16
PB - A philsophy professor at our local community colloege says that he believes the democrats are the party of "Inclusion," whereas the Republicans are the party of "Exclusion."

Dems include most people, hence the demographic shift which helped Obama win.
Republicans seem to only want to be involved with people who are mirror images of themselves. I am guessing that it makes the person feel better about themselves to not be confronted with someone "different" than they are.

If we did the correct and inclusive thing, the third party candidates would automatically become part of the solution. Maybe we should all start writing to our congressmen, and to the president, wsupporting the idea that these thrid party people AND independents, need to be brought into the dialogue that needs to start taking place.
+1 # brux 2012-11-08 10:02
Inclusion/exclu sion is an interesting way to look at things. The Democrats need to look more closely of the path and demographics of their constituency. What makes Democrats Democrats sometimes is the banding together to solve a particular problem, be is racism, discrimination, usually unjust actions to some group or another. As these groups or the members solve their problems or find individual solutions they tend to leave the Democrats and start preaching against helping others who have problems, which often manifests itself as being anti-tax.

I think this is an old-fashioned crisis of morality and integrity, and the failings of man, greed, selfishness, sloth, etc.

We did not really have this so much until the 70's when our media started to be very cynical. It went from showing for example, families like "Leave It To Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" to families like "All In The Family" and "Family Ties" where the children, the favorite marketing demographic were catered and condescended to. We had the rise of the anti-hero and criminal, and morality seemed to exit the scene in media.

Also the rise of pornography in the mainstream with Playboy and then Penthouse and their "articles" in addition to their pictures that gave them some kind of legitimacy ... all marketing and manipulation technologies.
-1 # dovelane1 2012-11-09 06:21
Brux - Assumptions.
1. What you describe in your first paragraph could fit lots of people, or just a few. Any numbers?
2. "I think this is a crisis of..."
What is "this?" Polarization, discrimination, the over-all problems we're dealing with. Define "this."
3. "Leave it..., Father Knows...," etc. One could easily argue that the earlier shows had nothing to do with the reality of what most families were really about. I didn't know any families like any of those mentioned.

The first two you showed a glorified. but unrealistic picture of family life, and the second two, I think, showed a more realistic picture of some families.

I don't know if morals had anything to do with any of these shows. If the show didn't hold an audience, how long did it last? The question then becomes why did they hold an audience? The era had much to do with their success.

As far as defining Playboy and Penthouse as porn, I think that is, as with most everything else, in the eye of the beholder. Again, I think both mags were based on the idea of de-mystifying the whole subject of sex and sexuality. What had been in the closet for so long, was brought out in the open.

Because of the regressive attitudes of the US at the time, this was shocking to many. In other places in the world, sex is seen as a fact of life. In so many cases, life is 5% what we make it, and 95% how we learn to take it.
+52 # Susan1989 2012-11-06 19:17
This is all very sad...I also think the rise if the Christian right has a great deal to do with this...and is an outgrowth of the fear felt by white Christian males and some females...that their days are numbered.
+1 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 09:33
Their days are indeed numbered and only known by the God they have so shamelessly used for political gain and betrayed every principle He gave to us through His son. There is a very special place in hell reserved for them.
+3 # Janice 2012-11-07 14:50
Religion is the root of most evils. More wars are caused by religion.Religi on is a presonal matter and should not be involved in politics in any way
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-11-09 15:59
The question is "what makes a Christian turn so far to the right?" Maybe the "black" book they read and praise but do not seriously study for truth content has something to do with it. Those who wrote the "book" in their time did not even know what an atom was. How could they know if they did not know an atom even existed? So, how difficult is it to teach the "modern" Christian logic vs, hatred when "four corners of the earth" are presented to them? Most people who are just a little educated know that this last idea perhaps slipped in the book as someone who wrote it maybe was smoking a little too much weed at the time. That the earth, universe was created in 6 days and the earth, universe is only 7,000 years old. The "old" book teaches that the black man is perhaps God's screw up. And we are to wonder why some parts of our society are erratic and abnormal?
+36 # Michael Lee Bugg 2012-11-06 22:54
Congratulations Barack Hussein Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Sherrod Brown, and the other Democratic winners!!! Now, this time focus on the economy and unemployment, and slowly reducing our bloated defense budget and the deficit will shrink without big budget cuts!
+14 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 09:37
A slap in the dirty faces of Karl Rove, the Koches, and all the other plutocrats and fascists! They have been shown they cannot buy or steal our country. There is work to be done and it must start now. The teabaggers must be routed in the midterm elections. It will be necessary to get the deluded fools who support them to come to their senses and see that their best interests have been betrayed by the Kochpuppets they voted for in 2010. Unless this is done little will get done for the good of the country.
+22 # Billsy 2012-11-07 01:36
Good points all, particularly about how we are living in our own bubbles. This election stood out primarily for its length but thrown in the heated rhetoric and it seemed interminable. The affect of modern media in forming our perspectives, views and opinions in far more sophisticated than what was in place in my Eisenhauer republican home. We had a fairness doctrine in place then and tv news was independent of the entertainment departments of the major tv networks.

I recall when a shock jock, Joe Pine, took to the air on independent tv stations. It struck me as the first exposure to the kind of heated intolerant and intemperate rhetoric that is now commonplace on cable news. Network TV news provides little more than infotainment and hasn't mattered to me since 1975.

I believe our greatest priority as a nation would be a constitutional amendment aimed at a total restructuring of our electoral process. Imagine a six week publicly financed campaign, a variety of candidates that must participate in public debate, equal political ad time on media, ranked choice voting. Or, no doubt, many of you have excellent ideas. But I can't take many more of these elections, and neither can our country.
+4 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 09:44
You have made some great suggestions for changing the electoral process. If we can get Citizens United done away with that would be the start. To help pay the cost of elections, a reasonable penalty or tax or whatever you call it should be paid by eligible voters who do not vote without a reasonable explanation. This has worked in many other countries to increase participation. It seems that here it has always been those who don't vote that complain the most regardless of who wins the election
+19 # socrates2 2012-11-07 01:47
Mr.Reich, a friend recently told me to look for how the states voted tonight. Sure enough, the "Union" voted Obama. The "Confederacy" voted Romney...
+26 # Billy Bob 2012-11-07 02:06
This is probably going to sound comical to many of you, especially if you know about my comments in general, but I thought Romney's concession speech was classy.

That's actually a very big deal. McCain/Palin's certainly wasn't. McCain had no control over the audience when they booed.

Governor Romne came prepared. When the slightest hint of a "boo!" from the white guys in back started, he just talked right over them with his next comment. It stopped them in their tracks. I heard something remarkable and beautiful. Republicans cheered for President Obama, after one of Mitt's comments.

+25 # Billy Bob 2012-11-07 02:06

Obviously Mitch McConnel doesn't share his sentiment. Then again, these concession speeches are important historically. They'll be remembered for years to come. Everyone remembers McCain's.

I hope everyone remembers Mitt Romney's. It gave me a respect for him as a human being I've never had before. It's not much, but it shows that it is possible to behave with a little class. For once, I don't even care if Mitt was faking it. This was worth faking for the good of our country.

I know a lot of right-wingers. I'm related to most of rush limbaugh's audience. The rest of them live in my neighborhood. One thing I do know about my right-wing relatives is that they'd be capable of showing respect for the left. They're kind of like children who will be naughty if they see the other kids in class getting away with it. If a major Republican public figure followed Romney's lead, they'd follow.
+13 # angelfish 2012-11-07 03:40
You're RIGHT, Billy Bob. I thought he did a wonderful job! WHERE was that side of him throughout the Campaign? I think it was because it was over and he was able to FINALLY relax and BE HIMSELF. I felt sad for the man that was unable to allow himself that luxury for over a year. I hope that the seeds of conciliation he planted on HIS side of the aisle will bear fruit and that this time around they will work WITH the President for the good of ALL Americans.
+6 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 09:49
We can all hope for conciliation but until the teabaggers are forced out there is little chance. Those who voted them in are either too ignorant or too radical to pressure them to work for the good of the country instead of their own financial interests
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 01:07
Angelfish - I agree. Being that his focus was first, to win the nomination, and second, to preach to his ultra right wing choir, what else could he have done? The bottom line was winning, and he did what he thought he had to do to win.

I have wondered what he was allowing himself to become because of his intense or fanatical desire to win.

I also hope this concession speech will allow him to reach out to Obama, or vice-versa.
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-11-10 11:17
People say lots of nice things when they have to for "effect." Still think people are defined not so much by what they "say" but by what they actually do. Mitt had a "gun to his head of public awareness" when he gave his speech. What he may have really "thought" on the way home, who knows? In the animal kingdom, he is a flesh eater, not a grass eater.
+24 # m... 2012-11-07 02:14
''The vitriol is worse than I ever recall. Worse than the Palin-induced smarm pf 2008. Worse than the swift-boat lies of 2004. Worse, even, than the anything-goes craziness of 2000 and its ensuing bitterness...''

Yes indeed-- The trend line is quite disconcerting.


This was the first election to take place under the dark shroud of ''Citizen's United'' as defined by the 5 SCOTUS CorpoHactavista s. The Big Business/Global Corporate Flood Gates poured forth tidal waves of '$Corp-$peech$' ... Money flooded the People's (Real People) Election Process.
And also, there is the continuing tragedy where the ownership of Media is even more narrow and Global Corporate owned and exploited than ever. Fox IF Fox.., and so on.


Even with ALL that Money and ALL that Propaganda, Obama was reelected. Warren Won. Baldwin won.
The American People still Won..!

1.Take All But Public Funding Out of OUR Elections- OR - Limit ALL donations to $500, whether actual, Real Persons or the CorpoHactavista -Defined 'Persons'... Which would mean that even a MultiBillion Dollar Global Corpo-Person could not donate more than $500..! -OR - Use their entire Media Empire as a 24/7 Campaign Donation.

2. Break up the extremely narrow grip just a very few
Global Corporations have on almost all Media Enterprises in OUR Republic and bring back a strong Fairness Doctrine in Media.
0 # angelfish 2012-11-10 12:55
I have an idea, m. If they don't overturn "Citizen's United", mandate ANY Corporation that contributes to a Political Campaign HAVE to donate a LIKE amount to a Social Program such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Faint hope but worth considering...?
+6 # RMDC 2012-11-07 05:54
Here are Donald Trump's comments. Apparently he wants a civil war. You can be sure the hard right wing will be arming up for a fight --

"We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty,” Trump continued. “Our nation is totally divided! Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us. This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!

“Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before. Our nation is a once great nation divided! The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy. Hopefully the House of Representatives can hold our country together for four more years…stay strong and never give up! House of Representatives shouldn’t give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare.”

“This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!”
+13 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 09:55
Trump is THE sham and travesty! Who but a complete idiot would take anything he spouts seriously. He is the quintessential "ugly American"! A modern-day Typhoid Mary who spreads negativity about everything but because of his wealth is insulated from everything he decries.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 01:27
RMDC - Thanks for sharing the quote. I'm reminded of what I heard listening to MSNBC when Ohio was announced as going for Obama. The host said that karl Rove was on Fox news telling the Romney camp to not give up, because many of the votes were not in, totally disregarding where the votes were, and what they represented.

It may have been Rove's insistence that kept Romney form conceding for as long as he did.

I had also heard that Romney had written a victory speech, but not a concession speedch. It is also possiblle he took the extra time to write that speech he gave.

Both Rove and Trump, and possibly all the other big spenders were probably in denial of the results. And possibly Romney for awhile,)too.

And, as was said about Linda McMahon, and all the money she spent on her campaign, this money is all gone, and they have little to show for it. I'd guess Trtump lost a bunch too.

Breaks my heart. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of rich, older white male control freaks. ;-)
+11 # kyzipster 2012-11-07 06:15
Maybe you should get out of Berkeley more. We have an urban/rural divide, the blue/red state divide is partly a myth that's perpetuated by the media and contributes to this divisiveness. I lived in San Francisco for ten years, the prejudice directed towards me because of my southern roots was constant and annoying. It didn't matter that my politics are to the left of Kucinich or that I was a gay person who chose to live in SF.

Both sides contribute to this culture war that has made our politics so dysfunctional and has helped the conservative movement gain power despite its toxic economic policies.

A look at a detailed electoral map paints a different picture. Almost every urban area in the country votes 'blue', even in the South. In CA, rural areas vote 'red'. We're basically the same across the country, states with huge urban populations are 'blue', states with small urban populations are 'red'.
+1 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2012-11-07 09:21
Good observation, often overlooked.
+3 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 10:22
Great and important point kyzipster. it looks like even in deeply "red" states, Obama won the urban areas pretty decisively which suggests to me that one of the things progressives should be discussing is how to craft a genuinely progressive rural agenda that could attract some of these folks as a way to continue to build and broaden a truly progressive coalition.

What strikes me as odd in this is how does Obama win amongst those individuals making under $50,000 and families making under $100,000 and yet lose the rural vote? does this mean that rural incomes are alot higher on average than i would have thought?
+3 # brux 2012-11-07 12:04
I lived in the South for over a year for a job once, you're damn right I'm prejudiced against Southerners. I went in to get a God-Damned haircut in Alabama one day with my California plates still on my car, and the SOBs cut half my head and told me to get out ... and I am about as WASPish as one can get.
0 # kyzipster 2012-11-07 17:00
So that would make you prejudiced against all Southerners? That would give you an excuse to project beliefs onto a resident of SF who happened to be from the South? That sounds like mindless prejudice to me. That would be like me blaming every Californian for giving us Reagan, unforgivable! LOL!

Nowhere in my post did I suggest that some southerners are not idiots, I even admit that a whole lot of them are but I think we'd do well politically to look for our similarities and stop focusing so much on our differences, it only helps the conservative cause.
-2 # brux 2012-11-08 02:36
It makes me very suspicious of people who fit my criterion of rednecks, which is a very hugh percentage, but not all, of the people in the south. I am prejudiced in favor of black people because all of the black people I met in the south treated everyone I saw decently.

Why do you think you have to go and make such of a point of attacking me for telling you the truth of my experience. Seems to me like you are just looking to babble or pick a fight. Ever think about why you do that, or why you do in the way you do you it?

We are not basically the same all throughout the country, and if you actually went all throughout the country you'd find that out. It's not so simple as you apparently want it to be.
0 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 09:11
Attacking you? I clearly stated that I was a Southerner who experienced mindless prejudice while living in CA for ten years and you responded by saying that yes, you're prejudiced against Southerners. I don't even have an accent. People made all kinds of assumptions about me just because I grew up somewhere. That I'm a racist, a conservative, sexist, etc. Contempt prior to investigation. It was a bit nuts.

I've lived all over this country, and yes, I see many similarities. Rural CA and Orange Co are not much different than the rural South. Rural Oregon and Idaho and Phoenix, AZ are practically identical. My liberal neighborhood in Louisville, KY is not much different than Portland, OR. It's a matter of percentages. A slight majority in a state votes conservative and that state and all of its residents are dismissed as 'red'. This is a phenomenon created by the conservative movement and it helps them to maintain power.

My main point is that the progressive movement does not help itself by participating in the culture war. This does not mean we have to embrace the hate and bigotry of the south and elsewhere but it does mean that we should not dismiss an entire region as hopeless when practically every urban center votes 'blue'. There are large percentages of African Americans and a growing Latino population. There has even been an influx of people from the Northeast, seeking a much lower cost of living.
-2 # brux 2012-11-08 10:13
Everyone is prejudiced, it is the way our brains work, by association and "confabulation" ... this is starting to be understood by neuroscientists . The only thing we can do is to try to use our higher reasoning centers, so by knowing and understanding our prejudices we can avoid being robotic about how we react to them, when there is the chance to do so. In my example I had no such chance, I was blind-sided by real prejudice - I would have called it abuse. You seem to miss the difference and be looking for any chance to cry prejudice.

When you say you do not have an accent, then you are also saying you have chosen to lie outside the class of southerners who self-identify as red-necks, much as blacks who do not speak ghetto dialect have decided it does not help them to be identified with groups who do choose to speak like that,

Your argument, at least as you expressed it to me is frivolous and based on shaky logic and things you do not know about, like me. The reason you decided to jump in there is that you probably have unresolved mixed feelings about the whole issue.

One other thing that you do not know about me is that when I was a kid I lived and grew up in Texas, so I don't have a lot of irrational stereotypes about southerners, in fact I have quite a full spectrum of understanding about the kind of people and attitudes I'm likely to encounter from Southerners, good and bad.
+1 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 11:12
My Midwestern accent is not by choice. No one in my family speaks with a southern accent and very few people I grew up around spoke with one. One more stereotype.

I think my reasoning is very sound based on the information you've provided. You seem to be illustrating my point very well. Thank you.
-1 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 09:16 more similarity I will point out is that CA voted along with most Southern states on the issue of same sex marriage. . An issue that's of great importance to me. Does this make all Californians anti-gay? Of course not.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 01:45
Brux - I don't see you as prejudices as much as you are biased. A prejudice is an unknown or unconscious bias, whereas a bias is a KNOWN prejudice.

In both cases, yours and kyzipster, the real problem is xenophobia - the fear of anything that is alien to one's norm. In your case, it was your license plates, and Kyz's case, it was his accent.

In both cases, the people involved made judgments based on superficial information, and then pigeonholed both of you, without EVER trying to get to know the person behind that superficial information. Frist impressions based on assumptions that have been learned, repeated, and reinforced, probably by most of the people in their peer group.

As I said in an earlier post, this kind of unconscious prejudicial socialization is what keeps these people excluding others that are just as human as they are, but who happen to be different.

The bottom line, the place eery human being on earth needs to start from, is the idea that we are ALL human beings first. Everything else is nothing more than a sub-heading under the main heading of "human being."

Even as much as the barber and the people in S.F. were jerks, they were still himan beings too. When we are discriminated against, it becomes harder to remember that.
+1 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 09:32
Nice analysis. I have no southern accent though, the prejudice I experienced was mainly in the workplace or on the periphery of my social circle because my roots were known. I am not a 'proud' Southerner but I refused to hide my background as I found that some residents of SF do. I am convinced I was denied a chance at employment because of the reaction to my resume. A Southern university and work references. I love California and I had a good experience there overall but it was a learning experience and I look at the culture war from both sides now.
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 02:12
cont'd - If we treat other people badly, it's like asking the other person to respond in the same way. I say "Put the shoe on the other foot, and see if this is how you would like to be treated if you happened to be a stranger in a different town."

Because they have learned to exclude everyone they think is different, they assume we are not all in this together, and then scapegoat or discriminate against anyone different.

Act different, think different, speak different, be of a different gender from the norm in power, and you are automatically excluded.

The fact that the people in rural areas who tend towards Republicnaism is, I believe, connected to the idea they learn that they don't have many other people to rely on, that they have to be "rugged individulaists. " They don't look for help, and their pride probably wouldn't allow them to take it, if offered.

People like Rove and Trump ignore all the contributions that the middle clase and public sector made that allowed them to get rich. They got rich from the labor and sacrifice of others. They have to deny that information in order to keep telling themselves how indepencent they are.

In fact, they are probably more dependent on others doing things for them than are most of the people in the rural areas. But it's the lie they tell themselves, THE FACADE OF BEING RUGGED INDIVIDUALISTS, the people in the rural areas identify with.
-3 # brux 2012-11-08 10:23
Read my last post just above.

I'll put people like you in a class that I would call self-righteous speechifiers. You tend to use your ideas which you think are worked out .. and they may well be ... to want to take on self-righteousn ess for self-validation , then you can tell others where they are wrong and what to do.

The problem with this is that while you may even be right, conceiving of a kind of different zone of stability in human interactions does not mean it can be implemented. A good example is Christianity. Try as we might it seems that Christianity as it is practices in real life is a nice romantic idea, but it is often so impossible to implement that it is unworkable, yet people feel self-righteous enough to preach to others about how great it is.

For example you started out your last post with a flat judgement statement of me which you proceed to justify, yet you know virtually nothing about me. The other human characteristic is to fill up our world with conclusions based on incomplete ideas, without doing a reality check on how full of holes those conclusions may be. It's the same things as bias, prejudice, whatever - the problem is not being biased or prejudiced, the problem is when people are unconscious of it.

Sometimes I am and sometimes I am not, and sometimes it is correct to be and sometimes not, but you cannot dissect me and make conclusions about me without exposing your own absurdities.

Calling me xeno* is uncalled for too.
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-09 05:17
Brux - First of all, your assumption that I called you xenophobic is an incorrect one. The xenophobic reaction to both you and KYS came from the people you were both dealing with. The barber bcause of your license plates, and Kyz's background. And yes, their conclusions were based on prejudice and ignorance.

Because you assumed your assumption about xenopohobia was correct, look what it led you to believe. Please reread what I wrote from this different point of view, and tell me if your point of view has changed.
+3 # WolfTotem 2012-11-07 07:03
Dr. Reich’s article is so true and so relevant.
I and my Dad never agreed about politics – even his old aunt called him a died-in-the wool reactionary! Yet we could and did talk, endlessly. And all this only increased our deep underlying esteem for one another. It also meant that there WAS a real exchange of ideas, despite apparently incompatible views and prejudices. Thus, I still cleave to some of his fine, old-fashioned values, despite having now been more partisan than I’d ever been on behalf of views Dad could never have understood.
Meanwhile one of his grandchildren insults the other as un-American and the two won’t even speak to one another. But then the first believes the famous 47% aren’t worth considering…
We all know there’s “something rotten in the state of Denmark”, and that’s deeply disturbing to us. It makes people feel very insecure, and then we take to the bunkers, hunkering down in our egos and prejudices, listening to strident propaganda that supports our fragile, threatened sense of identity. Then striking up passive-aggress ive macho poses… It would be farcical if it weren’t so sad and so scary. WE NEED HEALING. WE NEED WHOLENESS. AND BALANCE.
That is the essence of the change we’re crying out for.

+6 # NAVYVET 2012-11-07 07:30
But we also need justice, or people will never be able to stop being cynical. The torturers and destroyers of the Constitution and U.S. treaties should be indicted and tried--and let the juries decide. They must includethe top men themselves. That is where the buck stops.
+13 # Smokey 2012-11-07 07:04
Election Day has come and gone.... A lot of progressives are happy with the results and they'll go back to sleep for the next four years.... Stay awake! These are very difficult times and a lot of grassroots organizing will be needed in order to keep the country moving in the right direction.

Climate change is one issue to consider. For the most part, it was ignored by Obama. In fact, he said very little about energy issues - although he likes "clean coal" - and he ignored FEMA until Hurricane Sandy arrived..... If you want progress with Obama, stay active. Organize.
-9 # RLF 2012-11-07 09:01
Ignored by Obama...the arts, civil rights, banksters, torturers, fraud, the middle class, Etc. He may be better than Romney but not by a whole lot!
-1 # Malcolm 2012-11-07 13:19
i voted for Jill Stein (gasp) Obama is, without doubt, a mass murderer, and an agent of destruction of our beloved bill of rights.

Even with all that, though, I believe that he actually IS a whole lot better than Rmoney. And that's pretty frightening.

But Reich is correct about the huge gap between "us" and "them". My wife voted for Obama, and she's pissed that I "never called Bush a mass murderer". I called him every derogatory thing i could think of, but perhaps she's right...
+1 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 02:28
RLF & Malcolm - In a way, both of your are whistle-blowers . These are things that we need to hear about. They may not go with the image we want to have of Obama, but they are still issues that need to be addrressed. Sticking our heads where the sun don't shine makes us just like the Republicans we want to dislike or put down.

At the same time, I do want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I don't know what all the circumstances might be. I can't imagine what it must be like dealing with McConnell and the obstructionist congress. Nor can I imagine what it must be like getting death threats on a regular basis, and having to think aobut what might happen to your kids or wife if they happened to be in the way.

Obama has said twice (convention speech, and victory speech) that the American people must become better citizens, and must not go to sleep. Becoming whistle-blowers , and supporting whistle-blowers , is a way of not going to sleep.

If you are doing your best to tell the whole truth, as you know it, AND at this point in time, I support you. However, if you find some different information that causes you to change your mind, I hope you will be strong enough to let us know that truth as well.
+8 # WolfTotem 2012-11-07 07:07
I’ve just written elsewhere that there's one thing we MUST not do: people can't afford to go back to being passive couch potatoes, as they did 4 years ago.

The BIGGEST challenge: to recover inclusiveness, to bridge the partisan gulf. To revive DIALOGUE and TRUE DEBATE across party lines after all those years locked into sterile trench warfare in which all sides could only be losers.

Americans need to revive the citizens' associations that brought them TOGETHER for the best part of two centuries, and to box in the corporate barons and divisive special interest lobbies whose excessive power has done so much to ruin us all.

Politicians, starting with the President, need the courage to cross partisan divides and reach out to wise ordinary folk and heed their advice, instead of listening only to party hacks and pundits approved by the financial community; and by every available means to stimulate association and INCLUSIVENESS.

+2 # RLF 2012-11-07 08:59
That is ridiculous! We heard this the last time and it gave Obama an excuse to start every initiative just to the left of Ronald Raygun. We have to MAKE Obama have the balls to steamroll the Repubes because they will never work with's a pipedream! This is exactly what everyone said after the last election...and what is the saying about doing the same thing and expecting different results? Wake up Dude!
+3 # WolfTotem 2012-11-07 13:45
Quoting RLF:
That is ridiculous!

What's ridiculous? Who's ridiculous? You have no genuine debate between right and left for years and years - maybe since Reagan. You grow so far apart that you're worse than Disraeli's "Two Nations", and you're not even interested in trying to live alongside these people you're condemned to rub shoulders with?

It's America that's become f*****g ridiculous. And all you have to propose is to fight fire with fire, vitriol with vitriol, shitty ideology with shitty ideology.

A house that is divided against itself shall not stand.

And no, I'm not in favor of what the French call making peace between goats and cabbages. But there's no possibility, not even the remotest one, of making peace, unless every single element in the country has had a hearing - even if that hearing has to take place before a criminal court...
-1 # RLF 2012-11-08 07:08
There is no such thing in life as peace...everyth ing is a negotiation or a pretend otherwise is foolish. I'm just saying that Obama needs to start his initiatives at a place that allows negotiation in BOTH directions rather than all ways O. to the middle and the rethugs go no where. He has to this date shown no diplomatic skills or he is a turn coat on his constituency... I ready to see which because now he has no excuses.
+3 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 11:52
On the contrary, I believe this election was a referendum on Republican obstructionism. Setting a record for abuse of the filibuster, refusing to debate the most reasonable and conservative initiatives coming from the White House. Obama could offer to eliminate all taxes for the top 1% and Republicans would protest.
+2 # WolfTotem 2012-11-07 14:46
I just got too mad at you - apologies. But the fact remains that if we reject all possibility of negotiation in advance, we reject the Constitution - like the dumbest Tea Party morons, who worship it as though it was a stone idol but neither understand nor respect it.

The Constitution wasn't drafted with suchlike in mind... It's not foolproof, which is one reason the drafters wanted it kept alive through a process of amendment where and when necessary.

But the Teabags have just had a resounding setback, and that may sort the sheep from the goats among them.

RMDC reports the seditious ravings of one who represents perfectly all that's most cheap and vile in the land. A case for the courts or for psychiatric internment. But it's precisely when we face such unworthy adversaries that it's all-important not to let ourselves get dragged down to their level.

Yes, Obama made the mistake of trying to treat with crazed ideologues, just as Chamberlain and Daladier tried to talk with Hitler. But there's no Hitler here, just a bunch of Krupps and Schachts who've just wasted billions and still have about as much charisma as a rat's ass, while their puppets are... just that. Wooden heads, plastic hearts. And they've just been thrashed. Again.

Some bell-wethers among them might even get the point, given a little judicious sheepdog talk. Get me?
0 # RLF 2012-11-08 07:09
There is no Hitler here yet.
+2 # Malcolm 2012-11-07 13:23
Buen dicho, Sr Wolf totem. Pero, hay mas problemas que entre dims y rethugs. Por ejemplo, muchas personas no puede creer que el presidente Obombya mate la gente del mundo con "drones". Tambien, no creen, o no sabe, que el detruya la constitucion.
+9 # fredboy 2012-11-07 07:28
The President won with the support of the good people in America. The wise among the GOP--and there must be some who have come to their senses--must now learn to put country ahead of their dying party. And die it will, as it wretches in its bitterness.
+7 # fredboy 2012-11-07 07:29
Please remember that our cause is pure and just, our beliefs being grounded in goodness. We have a moral compass. And those who oppose us simply declare their allegiance to selfishness.
+4 # MidwestTom 2012-11-07 07:47
The men at coffee this morning, mainly right wing small business owners and small town professionals are mad. They firmly believe that the "welfare crowd" kept Obama in Office. I did not see it, but several said that one of the networks reported that 73% ofWhite Americans voted for Romney. This group would gladly support forma Red State nation. The next four years will not be peaceful.
+6 # Independentgal 2012-11-07 08:35
I wonder if the network is Fox. I can't believe that only 27% of whites voted for Obama. Almost everyone I know who voted for Obama, and the folks I saw in the Obama volunteer offices, is white.
+13 # Majikman 2012-11-07 09:02
The "welfare crowd" lost bigtime...the corporations, banksters, and tax cheats who are the REAL looters and moochers in this country.
+4 # Blast Dorrough 2012-11-07 11:57
You're so right, Majikman. The well-informed Populist Party of 1892 recognized the real incorrigible criminal class of usurped nobility and hereditary privilege that would become real welfare queens and kings of today plundering in the billions and trillions:

"Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress and touches even the ermine of he bench. The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these in turn despise the Republic and endanger liberty."
+8 # Billy Bob 2012-11-07 10:21
Luckily for us our country isn't all rural white male gun collectors from 50 to 64 years old. By the way, I've heard that argument before. The logic behind it goes something like this:

"yeah, but he only won because of all those people voting who shouldn't be allowed to."

Don't worry. We'll drag them into the 21st century kicking and screaming, but we'll (to borrow their words) "get 'er dun".
+8 # Billy Bob 2012-11-07 10:56
You quoted the statistic wrong. It's 78% of white (no need to cap the word "white" here) EVANGELICAL Christians.

um... yeah! OF COURSE!

White Americans voted 59% for him.
0 # brux 2012-11-07 12:01
I saw the stats last night ... a majority of every group - except whites, went for Obama. The split between whites was about 65-35 against. That is quite a polarization, and of course they are going to look for unjust reasons - not thinking about how America/"they" have treated minorities all these two centuries now.
+2 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 02:47
Tom - The irony is that those in the middle and middle to upper income classes do better under Democrats. It may have been Reich, or Krugman, or Stiglitz, but one (or maybe all of them) has mentioned on this site that we all do better under Democrats. There are more millionaires made under Democrats.

This is just another case of an assumption being thought of as a fact. As one pundit put it, I't ain't what you know that causes the problems; i's what you know that ain't so."

As now deceased Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone put it, "We all do better when we all do better."

Perhaps it is difficult for thewse people to look at a different point of view because they assume their wallets are going to take a hit. They need to get the information that says it ain't so.
-11 # Sandy G 2012-11-07 08:07
Revere Citizens United!!
+6 # in deo veritas 2012-11-07 10:00
paid troll! Nobody could be this deranged!
+1 # Malcolm 2012-11-07 13:25
Ya think?
+8 # Feral Dogz 2012-11-07 10:29
Quoting Sandy G:
Revere Citizens United!!

Did you mean, "Reverse Citizens United!!"?
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-11-07 20:43
Quoting Feral Dogz:
Quoting Sandy G:
Revere Citizens United!!

Did you mean, "Reverse Citizens United!!"?

I was goin' to ask the same thing. As an incompetent, stumbling typist, it's one o' the conundrums of the computer age and our common lingo, how a meaning can be totally turned upside-down by a stray digit.
I can't for the life of me imagine anyone except the members of SCOTUS who made it into law, "Revering" this antediluvian pronouncement.
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 02:51
I'm with you Reiver - I'm guessing she meant "reverse." What I find ironic is the "reactionary" nature of those who assumed she meant "revere." (And we all probably know about the word +assume.)

Let's show some inclusive thinking, and give her the benefit of the doubt, until proven wrong.
+4 # wherefore 2012-11-07 13:45
I suspect she meant to type Reverse.
+2 # David Starr 2012-11-08 15:05
@Sandy G: If you're not being sarcastic, then you support a virtual privatization of U.S. elections; where of course the latter isn't for sale.

Considering the tons of money GOP, wealthy supporters especially, threw at ads, the probable attempts of voting fraud by GOP operatives, and the politcally primitive remarks made by GOPers, the Grossly Obese Party (GOP) shows, and knows, where their priorities are. To them especially, elections and everything else, and everyone, is for sale. But while it's good news to keep the GOP at bay, it'll conrinue to be a vicious circle of Repub and Dem, Dem and Repub. I'm thinking of 2016 and 2020 and beyond as well.
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 08:43
Some interesting demographic results (in addition to the ones that many are talking about) to note is the urban/rural split (which in some ways seems to me to be a much better way to talk about this stuff than to make broad red/blue state statements as even in deeply "red states" Obama seems to have won big in the urban areas) but i'm trying to reconcile that one with the voting by income differences. How can Obama lose rural areas roughly 60/40 yet win decisively those making under $50,000 a year and total family income under $100,000? Does this mean that income levels in rural areas is much higher on average than i would have thought? In any case, if we are now talking about how to push the progressive agenda and how to expand a progressive coalition it strikes me that there has to be alot more discussion about how do you craft a progressive rural agenda that can attract significant numbers for if we were able to do this i would think it would open up far more opportunities than just continuing to expand the urban, youth, women's and non-white vote? Also striking to me, given what the repubs say they want to do with Social Security and Medicare that Obama loses the senior vote? One explanation is clearly race but i'm wondering if there are other issues here as well? And, does this mean as the 60s baby-boomers become seniors that this too will change?
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 02:53
dkon - I posted an idea on an earlier comment that may be connected to your question. Let me know what you think if you read it.
0 # dkonstruction 2012-11-08 08:03
Quoting dovelane1:
dkon - I posted an idea on an earlier comment that may be connected to your question. Let me know what you think if you read it.

thanks dovelane1. which earlier comment of yours are you referring to?
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-09 05:48
dkon - I made a couple of comments after an exchange by Brux and kyzipster about their experiences of being discriminated against.

The comment I was referring to was the second one. It was a "cont'd" comment, but now has a response from kyzipster in between the two of them. It's about 38 or 39 posts above here. Towards the end of the comment, I talked about "rugged Individualists. "
+1 # Malcolm 2012-11-08 15:01
I live in a rural county-Josephin e-in Oregon. It's one of the poorest in the state, and the state is not exactly rich. Obama received 37%, Romney 59% of the votes. Interesting, isn't it?

Like you, i find this very puzzling. Do you suppose that it's just that there is a higher percentage of people who actually vote among the wealthier residents in these poor rural counties?
+5 # independentmind 2012-11-07 08:47
I live in a small Republican dominated, not very diverse and steadily more poverty stricken county, and there have been very negative comments from a lot of facebook friends that are actually very nice and positive people normally.
+2 # Glen 2012-11-07 11:10
Often, independentmind , the comments are hate filled rather than just negative. The emotion is startling and and killing friendships.
+2 # RLF 2012-11-07 08:54
Mr. Reich...I think you have touched on it...the abilities and talents done best by males are losing and instead of working with boys in school to get them to value education, etc...we are telling them to buck up and let the disabled and women, who have been neglected, get their due. Problem is that the way these neglected men will react to the loss of power. We are seeing the defensiveness all over the world...burkas, no education, and since we can't act that way here...pressure builds. Watch out because men explode, and when it happens it will go either left or right...and right now it is looking like right...think benevolent dictator...and it won't be a woman!
+1 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 03:15
RLF - I've been thinking for a long time that our main problem, not only in this country, but in the world as well, is overpopulation.

I read that back in the early 80's, many employers started to notice that there were more applicantys than there were jobs. On top of that, a lot of manufacturers discovered they could get their products made cheaper in other countries.

I believe that is when wages started to stagnate, becuause the thought process for the employers becamse, "I can pay this person what I want, and if they don't like it, there's someone else who will take my offer and be glad for a job."

This is probably not as true for jobs that require more education, but for the type of manufacturing jobs Reich is talking about, these are the workers who have been hit the hardest. It is near impossible to compete with countries like China, Bangladesh, and so on, that pay slave labor wages.

That's also the problem with the thinking which focuses solely on the monetary bottom line. Doing this allows the rich to deny or ignore what workers in other countries are doing just to survive.

What we need to do is include ALL the workers in the world getting paid a decent wage. If that were done,shipping jobs overseas would not be cheaper. Those getting rich off slave labor, don't want to make a profit; they want to make a killing.
+1 # dovelane1 2012-11-08 03:35
cont'd - The other problem connected to over-population is this - if all the workers in the world get paid better, eventually they are going to want to become bigger and better consumers as well.

As it is, we the people are consuming our way to the destruction of the planet.

Supposedly this country was set up by the founding fathers with the idea that all people would have access to a good "quality" of life. This idea was subverted by the rich in the 1800's, so that most people now believe that a good life is based on the "quantity" of things one acquires. We have been socialized to focus on acquiring more things, to the extent that we have forgotten to focus on the idea of becoming better people, having more compassion, more understanding, more caring. Or being more inclusive.

The super-rich, and maybe many of the higher upper middle class may be caught up in that same socialized itinerary. (I'll be a better person if I can just get the next big thing.)

The middle class and poor in this country, and in the world, get stuck just trying to survive. I think it is difficult to focus on politics when one is working two or three different part-time jobs, and worried about putting food on the table, or keeping the roof over the head, and clothes on one's back.
+3 # skipb48 2012-11-07 11:03
Robert, everywhere is not that divisive. I just had breakfast with a group of neighbor men (every Wednesday) of which I'm the only liberal while the rest are all various levels of Republican. We all made a few comments, a few political jokes, but we still get along and we are still friends.

Let's not let the media hype more of this division than it is. We are all still Americans!
+6 # Glen 2012-11-07 11:08
The onset of divisiveness began under Reagan thanks to his team of perverse connivers and planners. It became clear to them that much more could get done when citizens were distracted. Those methods have been used ever since, but never so much as now.

Citizens MUST come to a realization that they are being manipulated and learn to stick together against any who are tearing down their states and their country. Too many have been convinced it is for their "own good" to lose rights and turn on fellow citizens. They have also been convinced the church is coming into power through their governments.
+4 # reiverpacific 2012-11-07 11:28
As a foreign observer from within the belly of beast I call the "Fragmented Corporate States", I recognize Mr Reich's need to address the subject but I fear that until there is some firm, legislative measure to limit spending and air-time by those who pump out the ol'-fashioned Archie Bunker and way-worse vitriol -overwhelmingly by the far right that now controls the GOP and most of the "popular press", especially the likes of Clear Channel and it's monopoly of 1,300 radio outlets that are Limp-balls' main outlets, imposing taxes on the religious right, all divisive, fragmentary sources that are out to deliberately practice "Divide and Conquer", very little is going to change and this nation will have to fight it's heart out for every scrap of progressive gain from the ground up.
My wife's family -what's left of them- are split right down the plumb-line between progressive and reactionary with some are not on speaking terms; -so sad and unnecessary. Her elder brother, who is a born-again, humorless, blinkered, evangelical Christian type with no ability to enter a discourse, is representative of those who move utterly beyond any hope of engagement and there are always quite a few of those.
I don't listen to NPR much but "This American Life" just did an excellent piece on just this subject; check out
Gawd -or whatever- HELP America!
+4 # brux 2012-11-07 11:57
Who knows who the Labor Secretary in Obama's administration is? Nobody.

I dearly hope that Obama will get more and better people into his administration this term ... like Robert Reich. Reich has tirelessly argued and written for the Democrats and Obama even as he has been critical of Obama, but in a constructive way. He needs to go back to Washington.
+3 # Sallyport 2012-11-07 12:49
Certainly there are some pretty outrageous provocateurs - viz. Limbaugh - on the right, but where are these far left-wing democrats? Moderate, yes, but left-wing?
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-11-07 15:05
Quoting Sallyport:
Certainly there are some pretty outrageous provocateurs - viz. Limbaugh - on the right, but where are these far left-wing democrats? Moderate, yes, but left-wing?

I'm afraid that, from an ol' UK/Scottish ("True", not "New" as in Blair) Labor activist and from a European standpoint, there has been no "Left Wing" in the US since the 1930's.
So you are right in your speculation by all worldly standards.
0 # dovelane1 2012-11-09 05:28
RP - Not knowing how you define "left wing," I don't know if I agree with you or not. When I was involved with the Green Party, I thought they were pretty much the left wing at the time. (2000)

They may still be, but I havn't done much with them since Nader / 2000. Plus the Green candidate in Minnesota at the time, left the party and started another party further left of the Green party.
0 # kyzipster 2012-11-08 11:47
Excellent point. The right-wing media successfully labels all Democrats, and even some moderate Republicans, as 'far left liberal'. The rest of the media seems to accept this as fact and so do too many voters.

We've lost the definition of the center, in my opinion the center should be measured by where the American people stand on individual issues. When polled, they stand firmly on the side of the Democrats on every single issue. SS & Medicare, tax policy, military spending, the environment, regulation to correct the excesses of the banking industry and Wall St. Even most Republicans agree that we need to keep welfare for people who need it, yet Republican politicians have been campaigning against welfare since before Reagan. A belief that most welfare recipients abuse the system when the facts don't back that belief up.

Voters may hate Obamacare but if it was somehow eliminated they would still support the government doing something to make health care affordable and available to everyone. The left hates hates Obamacare because it's too conservative. On a few issues where voters lean right, like gun control, the Democrats have moved to the right of center. Abortion and gay marriage stand at about 50/50, giving the Democrats a reasonable position politically, hardly 'far left'. It's absolutely nuts, a distortion of reality.
0 # Berrules 2012-11-08 07:21
Here's an interesting opinion article from the Washington Post that really sums up the problems in Washington brilliantly.
+2 # David Starr 2012-11-08 15:17
So, a great sign of relief was heard around the country. I'm wondering if Obama will regress back to his "art of compromise." Dems have done this before, or similar. "Obamacare", despite its positives, still is dominated by money, rather than free/affordable /qualitative healthcare. Because of this, there'll be less affordability as time goes on. And with the mandatory "option," many may find themselves further between a rock and a hard place, having to pay for care, or paying for a penenalty, with increasing costs on top of that. But the GOP especially is to blame for this with their "socialized medicine/death panel" hysteria. Obama will face the party of no again. Hopefully, he'll "stick to his guns.
0 # brux 2012-11-08 16:50
Obamacare is a small evolutionary improvement in what was, but it really does nothing for anyone and does not solve the major problems or healthcare or the economy.

The biggest problem, even according to the Republicans is small business and the linkage between health insurance and employment is the big problem.

If Medicare was expanded, then the health insurance industry would have real competition at the high-end where insurance has a place, not keeping 50 million or more Americans from getting health care which affects their futures, their kids, their parents and their neighbors.

We are on the verge of being able to break health care open and mechanize it, with algorithms, checklists and transparent metrics leading to the greatest advance in health ever, and the doctors and managers are against it because they will end up feeling the same pain everyone else in other jobs has felt.

Obamacare is pretty much of a political joke, and Obama has a choice as to whether he actually wants to try to do something or be a joke too.
0 # David Starr 2012-11-09 15:45
@brux: Just off the top of my head, for now, the GOP is not in a justifiable position to judge. "Obamacare" to them is an obstacle where there's the "threat" of "socialized medicine." Considering how "Obamacare" was crafted, it's NOT socialized medicine, but pretty much the same healthcareas before but with modest reforms. The prioritization of profit is still existing, and the GOP doesn't mind.

I do admit I support healthcare as a fundamental right, considering how it's needed. Profit should not be the bottom line; rather health.

Small businesses haven't fared well historically considering how many of them failed as opposed to suceeding. It can be reasons like a recession, depression, not making sales to help maintain the business. But more threatening-the private monopoly of corporations, with leverage to take over in a certain sector resulting in small businesses being unable to "compete." Umemployment is of course a problem but usually from a sick economy where, e.g., there's outsourcing (although small businesses aren't a big factor in that), economic corruption or crimes which resulted in, e.g., the 2008 Great Recession. Healthcare expenses I doubt are THE problem. But if a system can be developed where healthcare is a right, and can be paid through a number of ways that won't cause catastrophy.
0 # brux 2012-11-09 20:16
David, failing is the rule not the exception, people need to understand that, and that is why the US rewards business people as must as possible for even taking the risk.

That's just the way it is. If we wanted to stimulate small businesses, which we should, we should build it into our DNA, but we build plodding folllowership into our students in school, using school to break their spirit and babysit them.

We should have every job be a contact between businesses, each individual being their own corporation, and over time people would learn to see life in terms of buisness, organization and making win-win deals.

There are some efforts that are not suited to the free market, or at least not totally suited to the free market, they get corrupted. Health care is one of them.

Removing health care costs and administration from individuals and small businesses would be a giant win for both.
+1 # skipb48 2012-11-08 17:04
"ObamaCare" is not the whole picture, but only the start of a longer journey. There will be many adjustments and many hard decisions yet to come before we truly have full universal health care.

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