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Author: Robert Reich

Decency and Democracy: Responding to political sycophants who designate empathy as a disability

Sympathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of another and understand someone else’s feelings by identifying with them. With empathy, you put yourself in another’s shoes, often feeling things more deeply than if you just felt sympathy. For about a minute today I found myself feeling sorry for Donald Trump. The poor man is now “battling” COVID-19, the pugilistic verb is showing up all over the news. He is in the hospital. He is out of shape. He is 74 years old. His chief of staff reportedly says his symptoms are “very concerning.” Joe Biden is...

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Trump Nation: The real “Suckers” and “Losers” are the Americans who voted for a charlatan

What is America really fighting over in the upcoming election? No particular issue. Not even Democrats vs. Republicans. The central clash is over Donald J. Trump. Before Trump, most Americans were not especially passionate about politics. But Trump’s MO has been to force people to become passionate about him – to take fierce sides for or against. And he considers himself president only of the former – whom he calls “my people.” Trump came to office with no agenda except to feed his monstrous ego. He has never fueled his base. His base has fueled him. That adoration sustains...

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Poverty, Misery, and Death: What the new American exceptionalism means during a pandemic

No other nation has endured as much death from COVID-19 nor nearly as a high a death rate as has the United States. With 4.25% of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30% of pandemic deaths so far. And it is the only advanced nation where the death rate is still climbing. Three thousand deaths per day are anticipated by June 1. No other nation has loosened lockdowns and other social-distancing measures while deaths are increasing, as the US is now doing. No other advanced nation was as unprepared for the pandemic as...

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How American lives are being sold out to ensure economic profits and political interests

Donald Trump has been getting nervous. Internal polls show him losing in November unless the economy comes roaring back. So what is Trump’s reelection strategy? Ignore the warnings of public health experts and reopen the economy at all costs. Here is his lethal 4-part plan: Step 1: Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work. Trump’s Labor Department has decided that furloughed employees “must accept” an employer’s offer to return to work and therefore forfeit unemployment benefits, regardless of the risk of returning to work before it is safe. Forcing people to choose between contracting...

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Crowdsourcing the Truth: Facts under siege and journalism in dire need of rebuilding public trust

Guarding the independence of the press is essential to maintaining truth as a common good. And truth is essential to democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Yet the press’s freedom and independence are under siege, and a growing segment of the public no longer trusts the major media. Distrust was on the rise even before Donald Trump’s demagoguery. On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, only 18% of Americans...

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Democracy vs. Oligarchy: The real American divide is not Left vs. Right

When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy. I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left.” But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left.” A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market. But as...

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