How did we take the wrong road, how did we take the right one?
Good year. Hope it is safe and healthy for you and your family.
Over the past few days, I have shared with you some facts and thoughts on Trump’s continued coup attempt. I also suggested that an answer to this (and to Trumpism in general) can be found in Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 film “It’s a wonderful lifeAnd the central question he posed: do we unite or let the Mr. Potters of America own and run it all?
Today, the first of 2022, seemed appropriate to me to focus on how and why America became Potterized.
It is not possible to change the future without understanding the past. The American system is not just political or “the market” like us now live Him. It is an evolving set of laws, rules and norms that reflect a changing power structure. If we are to change the road we are on (and we have to), we have to see how we fared. If we are to change the current power structure (and we must), we need to understand how it came about.
More importantly, we need to understand why we made a giant U-turn from the road we were during the first three decades after WWII – when America was on the path to building a strong democracy and the largest middle class the world has ever seen, by expanding civil rights and human rights voting and creating a more inclusive society – down the path that led us to Trump.
If we find out how we got to “It’s a wonderful life”From 1946 to the Pottersvilles that so many Americans live in by 2022, we have a chance to get back on track.
My personal journey – and the questions that have plagued me for years – parallels the larger one. I was born in 1946, the same year “It’s a wonderful life” has been freed. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s with civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, and nascent, if not crazy, youthful optimism about the future.
I witnessed the U-turn. I saw the system change, but I didn’t know why.
In the 1970s, I represented the United States before the Supreme Court and then led the political team of the Federal Trade Commission. In the 1980s, I watched and recounted what I saw happen under Reagan and Bush I, and taught brilliant students what I thought they needed to know about the system. In the 1990s, I advised Bill Clinton when he was running for President, then led his Economic Transition team and became his Secretary of Labor. Afterwards, I taught another group of great students. I advised Barack Obama. When Trump was elected, I became a staunch critic.
Through it all, I kept wondering: Why is this happening? How did we go wrong? What can be done?
I have some preliminary answers that I will share with you over the coming weeks and months.
So far, here is a video which was my first attempt to answer these questions as simply as possible. Please take a look. I am interested in your thoughts and comments.