Robert Reich said he’s holding out hope that America will return to a time where those with the most money are no longer the loudest voices, and he predicted that the country will “have another progressive era.”
Reich, an author who served as U.S. labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, made his prediction in an interview with Jim Braude on Greater Boston, where he also spoke about his new book, “The Common Good.”
“First of all, I don’t want to idolize the past or romanticize. We were a two-tiered society. We had a lot of racism. Women were second-class citizens — we’re talking about the 50s, 60s, early 70s — but at least we knew we were not perfect, and we strived to get our nation better," said Reich, pointing to the civil rights era and subsequent other reforms as accomplishments.
As for what changed, he said, “I think the forces of greed did overwhelm both politics and economics.”
Reich offered two solutions to counter this: an emphasis on civic education and increasing public trust in organizations.
“When I was a kid in school you actually were taught what citizenship meant — that you had responsibilities,” he said. “It wasn’t this cheap kind of patriotism, you know, about saluting flags and kneeling or standing for the anthem or securing the borders. It was about showing up.”
Reich also decried the influence of “big money" in politics and criticized the states’ practice of offering large tax breaks to entice corporations.
Asked to elaborate on why he’s hopeful for the future, Reich, who is now a professor at University of California Berkeley, pointed to his students and student movements, like the one in Florida over gun reform, as inspirations.
He also said his optimism is rooted in history.
“I know that we are now in a second gilded age. But after the first gilded age we had a progressive era that was extraordinarily important,” he said. “We’re going to have another progressive era.”
To watch more of Robert Reich’s interview with Jim Braude, click on the link above. This post has been updated.