Robert Reich: Advice for Divided Democrats

by on June 2, 2016 · 1 comment

in California, Civil Rights, Election, History, Media, Politics

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Plus: Bernie’s Policies Are the Answer to the Rise of the Far-Right

By Robert B. Reich /

With the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like.

First, my advice to Clinton supporters: Don’t try to drum Bernie Sanders out of the race before Hillary Clinton officially gets the nomination (if she in fact does get it).

Some of you say Bernie should bow out because he has no chance of getting the nomination, and his continuing candidacy is harming Hillary Clinton’s chances.

It’s true that Bernie’s chances are slim, but it’s inaccurate to say he has no chance. If you consider only pledged delegates, who have been selected in caucuses and primaries, he’s not all that far behind Hillary Clinton. And the upcoming primary in California – the nation’s most populous state – could possibly alter Sanders’s and Clinton’s relative tallies.

My calculation doesn’t include so-called “superdelegates” – Democratic office holders and other insiders who haven’t been selected through primaries and caucuses. But in this year of anti-establishment fury, it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton to relay on superdelegates to get her over the finish line.

Sanders should stay in the race also because he has attracted a large number of young people and independents. Their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are critically important to Hillary Clinton’s success, if she’s the nominee, as well the success of other Democrats this year, and, more fundamentally, to the future of American politics.

Finally and not the least, Sanders has been telling a basic truth about the American political economic system – that growing inequality of income and wealth has led inexorably to the increasing political power of those at the top, including big corporations and Wall Street banks. And that political power has stacked the deck in their favor, leading to still wider inequality.

Nothing important can be accomplished – reversing climate change, creating true equal opportunity, overcoming racism, rebuilding the middle class, having a sane and sensible foreign policy – until we reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests. The longer Bernie Sanders is on stage to deliver this message, the better.

Next, my advice for Sanders supporters: Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination.

Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways.

But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out – unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump.

Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war.

Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.

Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response.

That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime.

Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all.

I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump.

Both of my morsels of advice may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination.

But swallow it you must – not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.

More advice –  this from Robert Reich’s facebook June 1st:

Bernie’s Policies Are the Answer to the Rise of the Far-Right

Far right, neo-fascists are on the rise around the world. Last month nearly half the electorate of Austria voted for the presidential candidate of a party established by former Nazis, and other European nations are grappling with similar waves of hatefulness – all spawned by economic stresses easily blamed on “outsiders” (immigrants, Muslims, people of color).

Sound familiar? Trumpism is America’s version.

Look behind the economic stresses and what do you see? Economies that are no longer building strong middle classes, to which the poor and working class can join. Instead, middle classes are collapsing. Jobs are being outsourced abroad while robots and other new technologies displace millions more. And instead of responding to the collapse, governments are adopting austerity economics or trickle-down economics, and cutting public services, while the rich get richer and pay less and less in taxes. It’s a vicious cycle.

To my mind, Bernie’s policies and the “political revolution” necessary to put them in place offer a way of reversing this in America. What do you think?


Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fstued June 4, 2016 at 8:55 am

Absolutely brilliant as usual or Mr Reich. I’m a Bernie guy to the end. But given a choice between the 2 likely candidates. I will vote for the best of the 2 for the good of the country. Bernie be done an Amazing job of highlighting the prob!ems and the campaign t will be forced to Address them.


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