Robert Reich on Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

“The biggest threats to American sovereignty are invisible digital dollars wired into U.S. election campaigns from abroad.”
— Robert Reich


Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

Wrapping up my several days of again raising the alarm about the imperative to reverse the 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizen’s United (and what we can do about it), the last word for now must come from one of my heroes, progressive economist Robert Reich.

Much lauded Reich has emerged as the best spokesperson prescribing the cure for what is wrong in the US. You can follow his think pieces at his website, or Tumblr, and see his columns printed practically every day in all major news media outlets.

Robert Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, has authored 14 books, most recently, Saving Capitalism, and was co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality For All.

So naturally, we turn to Reich to shed light on the terrible predicament of Citizens United.

Sovereignty is mainly about a government’s capacity to govern. A government not fully accountable to its citizens won’t pass laws that benefit and protect those citizens – not just laws about trade and immigration but about national security, the environment, labor standards, the economy, and all else.

To state it another way: Without a functioning democracy, we just don’t have a country.

Reich offers us numerous examples of how Donald Trump has been actively soliciting political contributions from foreign actors and governments, which is against federal law. Unfortunately, the GOP members are in the majority on the ostensibly non-partisan Federal Elections Commission, and have reneged on their sworn duty by resisting any investigation.

Ever since the Citizens United decision, domestic operators and PACs with nameless donors have made huge anonymous contributions to their candidates, in essence buying them. This would be bad enough but the decision also gave cover to many foreign entities who have an interest in owning part of our democracy.

Besides the fact that both soliciting and accepting political contributions from abroad is illegal, Reich’s alarm gets right to the point.

“[T]he only way Americans have a fighting chance of getting trade deals that are in our interest – or, for that matter, any other kind of legislation that helps the vast majority – is by restricting the flow of global corporate money into American politics.”

Reich also points out an underlying larger problem in that 25% of the US’s public corporations are now owned by foreign nationals, so donations from these companies effectively “funnel some of their foreign shareholders’ assets into American politics.” Money buys influence, and that is something of interest to operators and bad actors in the US and overseas.

Reich is a able leader in the multiple efforts to reverse Citizen United. In my post earlier this week, I offered tools that even you armchair activists can use to start helping in this effort today.

Let’s rescue our democracy from the jaws of defeat. Democracy is bleeding out before our eyes. What are you going to do about it?

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons



Also see: $pecial Interest Government Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things and More On Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.


Alison Gardner