Robert Reich Tries to Educate a Trump Supporter, but Instead Reveals the Shortcomings of Liberal Rhetoric

Robert Reich's unproductive conversation with a Trump supporter is indicative of larger problems that liberals must confront.

Robert Reich's unproductive conversation with a Trump supporter is indicative of larger problems that liberals must confront (via juggernautco and victoriabernal on flickr).

Public policy wonk-person Robert Reich shared a Facebook post a few days ago about his encounter with a Trump supporter, which garnered 250,000 likes and 80,000 shares. The Trump voter says: Trump’s a winner, being clearly rich. Reich chides him: Don’t you know that Trump is actually a failed entrepreneur, only rich because he inherited a huge sum of money, and actually his business has been publicly subsidized by New York City? He’s not a winner, and you’re not voting for one. Drop the mike, educated.

This illustrates the most popular liberal, anti-Trump rhetoric that I see around me, especially because it’s making use of facts while avoiding the tacit ground underneath: If only you knew the facts, if only you were educated, then you would choose Hillary Clinton over this con artist. I sometimes see this with people who connect with education studies without being within them (sometimes, folks who find out I’m in education studies): Education is vastly important, they say, and those people who are going to vote for Trump are doing so because they haven’t gotten enough of it.

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Voting Is Nothing Special (and It Shouldn’t Be)

Long lines to vote early in Ohio in 2012.

Long lines to vote early in Ohio in 2012 (via chrisgold on flickr).

A version of this post originally appeared at Common Dreams.

Political rhetoric in the U.S. is often characterized by sickly sweet appeals to democracy. Voting is held up as the foundation of democracy, or as the most useful or necessary method of political participation or expression. Judging by that rhetoric, and by the image of the U.S. that is exported around the world, one would think that the U.S. would be able to execute the actual practice of voting well.

But the disenfranchisement that routinely happens — to those convicted of crimes, those without IDs, those that need to work, those that can’t find childcare, those that can’t travel, etc. — together with the voter suppression that happened recently in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Wisconsin, suggest that voting in the U.S. is undemocratic and limited as a means for political participation. The reality is many people are directly and indirectly prevented from casting a vote, and much of the time that disenfranchisement is purposeful.

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Hillary Clinton, and Praising Nancy Reagan for Her Support of Alzheimer’s and Stem Cell Research

The Reagans and the Clintons

The Reagans and the Clintons in 1987 via Wikipedia.

A version of this post appeared at Truthout.

Hillary Clinton recently credited late First Lady Nancy Reagan, as well as her husband President Ronald Reagan, with starting “a national conversation” about HIV and AIDS. She was quickly rebuked for these comments, and her staff issued an apology. The reality is that Nancy and Ronald Reagan were silent about the HIV/AIDS crisis going on around them and treated it as a joke. The result is that the Reagans are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

While Clinton did probably think that the Reagans were leaders on HIV/AIDS advocacy, she instead said that she intended to talk about the Reagans’ commitment to stem cell and Alzheimer’s disease research. But this also deserves scrutiny. Neither Nancy Reagan nor her husband started a “national conversation” on either Alzheimer’s disease or stem cells by any charitable interpretation. Alzheimer’s disease was reasonably well-known when Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with it in 1994; supporting stem cell research was a mainstream Democratic Party plank when Nancy Reagan spoke favorably of it in 2004.

The Reagans did become interested in both issues after Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s though, and there is an important and obvious point to make about this advocacy: the Reagans’ personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease catalyzed it. Ungenerously, an argument could be made that it was directly in their interest to fund research to find a cure for the disease; generously, one could argue that their experience made them believe that the disease merited more attention than they had previously assigned to it.

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