Beyond Outrage

obama purple lady

White House photo by Pete Souza.

The general election of 2012 starts today.

We need to do everything we can to make sure Barack Obama is reelected president. But we also need to mobilize for the long haul — beyond Election Day. We need to fuel a movement to take back our economy and our democracy.

Presidential elections can draw peoples’ attention to larger challenges facing our nation, but they can also be distracting. The media focus on the game — who’s up and who’s down, and which political strategies are winning or losing — rather than on the big issues. Campaigns are also geared to winning on Election Day, not to building long-term strategies and movements for fundamental change.

I’ve been involved in public life, off and on, for over 40 years. I’ve served under three presidents. When not in office I’ve done my share of organizing and rabble-rousing, along with teaching, speaking, and writing about what I know and what I believe. I have never been as concerned as I am now about the future of our democracy, the corrupting effects of big money in our politics, the stridency and demagoguery of the regressive right, and the accumulation of wealth and power at the very top.

We are perilously close to losing an economy and a democracy that work for everyone, and replacing them with an economy and government that exist mainly for a few wealthy and powerful people.

That’s why I’ve written an ebook called “Beyond Outrage.” You have every reason to be outraged. Moral outrage is the prerequisite for social change. But you also need to move beyond outrage and take action. The regressive forces seeking to move our nation backwards must not be allowed to triumph.

Robert ReichThe point of “Beyond Outrage” is to help you focus on what needs to be done and how you can do it, and to encourage you not to feel bound by what’s politically possible this year or next. You need to understand why the stakes are so high, and why your participation – now and in the future – is so important.

In my experience, nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington become mobilized, organized, and energized to make it happen. Nothing worth changing in America will actually change unless you and others like you are committed to achieving that change.

Robert Reich
Robert Reich’s Blog 


  1. JoeWeinstein says

    Like the prior two commenters I much respect Reich but cannot see why robotically rewarding Obama for his disastrous DINO Tea-party-enabling performance will help.  Moreover, I’m too old – and find life too short – to believe that delivering an allegedly essential ‘what and how’ message requires an entire book. 

    If Reich’s book has value, then he could at least have added a few paragraphs to motivate us potential readers, by giving us a summary argument or an illustrative example of content.   

    FOR INSTANCE, the following three paragraphs summarize what, in MY opinion, most needs to be done – and how feasibly to start doing it – at all levels in USA government – and in big corporations and other large organizations too.  (I’ve written more – not a book but a long essay – which already – except maybe for the very technically fussy reader – is far more than is needed to cover the essentials.) 

    We must move away from obsolete systems of decision-making and policy-making – in short of governance – and move toward systems which exploit rather than disregard the last two centuries of amazing progress in science (including decision methodology), communications and mass education.  Our current systems are at best oligarchic when not outright autocratic: decision-making power is highly concentrated in small and readily corrupted elites of a few long-termed officers, elected or appointed.  In these systems there are moreover no criteria of reason that need be followed in making decisions. 

    What we need instead is real reason and democracy.  Decision power decentralized away from a small career elite.  Decisions made by randomly chosen teams of ordinary citizens and stakeholders, each team member thereby performing a manageably short term of public or organizational service.  Each decision the result of a systematic sequence of three stages:  pro-active proposals (each advanced with an explicit reason), deliberative action –  approval or rejection – on proposals (with explicit reasons given for approved proposals), and precautionary review of approved proposals (with confirmation or veto, in the light of the reasons given for them).   

    We can start by demanding for at least some kinds of local government decisions that each week the decisions must be reviewed (with power to confirm or veto) by a citizen review team ( a new team for each week) comprising ordinary randomly-chosen willing affected citizens. 

  2. Petesfeet says

    Are you kidding me? This guy got our votes last time by pretending he’s on our side, then turned around and paid off his corporate sponsors with bankster bailouts and the “Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act” that solidifies wealth redistribution from the middle class to the rich. He increased defense spending to war profiteers, ensured that those who recklessly destroyed our economy won’t ever be punished, reaffirmed and renewed the Bush tax cuts for the super rich, and destroyed of one of our most important constitutional protections (habeas corpus) just in case the 99% decide to do something about his bipartisan/Republican policies.
    It’s pretty clear Obama is paying back his corporate donors, so why would we think he’d do anything differently if we reelected him?  We hoped he’d be a hero for the common American, and instead he turned out to be another cog in the ongoing destruction of the middle and working classes. He’s not going to ever prioritize us over the super rich, unless we stop cheerleading him for not being quite as bad as the other guys.
    Personally, I’d rather have Mitt “Obama-lookalike” Romney pushing Republican policies than our current stealth-Republican president. At least then common people will take to the streets protesting the plutocratic policies both bought out sides of the political aisle are shoving down our throats.

  3. go99ers says

    I agree that we need a movement to take back our economy and our democracy. However, having seen the president’s actions, and having been turned off to his eloquent speeches, I think re-electing him will be the greatest voter disappointment in history. Look at the JOBS act he is signing, or has already signed. He’s done very little for the middle class, and the poor, and he has given the regressive right-wingers the very important things that they are demanding.

    What gives anyone the hope that he will act differently? You can see that he is practically a republican by his actions. He might as well renew the Bush tax cuts for the corporations. He talks their talk and walks their walk.

    I’d rather take a chance on Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party. She is proposing to do all the things that the president said he would do, but didn’t in the last almost four years. You might cry about Ralph Nader, and shout that she might cause the Republicans to win. Well, haven’t they if we re-elect Obama again?

    It’s possible that Dr. Stein will bring the change that progressives want, and the systemic, deep reforms that we desperately need.

    Prof. Reich, you are one of my very favorite people, and I respect and admire you tremendously. But, I also am beyond outrage with more Bush, and very little Obama.

    I agree with your closing words: “Nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington become mobilized, organized, and energized to make it happen. Nothing worth changing in America will actually change unless you and others like you are committed to achieving that change.”

    My response to those words is (and I know you will not like it) that I’m NOT going to vote for Obama because, although I like him personally, I don’t believe that he will veer from his present course.

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