If stagnant wages, near-record inequality, climate change, nuclear buildups, assault weapons, mass killings, trade wars, opioid deaths, Russian intrusions into American elections, kids locked in cages at our border, and Donald Trump in the White House don’t at least occasionally cause you feelings of impending doom, you’re not human.

But I want you to remember this: As bad as it looks right now — as despairing as you can sometimes feel — the great strength of this country is our resilience. We bounce back. We will again.

Not convinced?

First, come back in time with me to when I graduated from college in 1968. That year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Our cities were burning.

Tens of thousands of young Americans were being ordered to Vietnam to fight an unwinnable and unjust war that ultimately claimed more than 58,000 American lives and the lives of more than 3 million Vietnamese.

The nation was deeply divided. And then, in November of that year, Richard Nixon was elected president. I recall thinking this nation would never recover. But somehow we bounced back.

In subsequent years we enacted the Environmental Protection Act. We achieved marriage equality for gays and lesbians. We elected a black man to be president of the United States. We passed the Affordable Care Act.

Even now, it’s not as bleak as it sometimes seems. In 2018, a record number of women, people of color, and LGBTQ representatives were elected to Congress, including the first Muslim women.

Wind and solar sources of energy are rapidly becoming cheaper than fossil fuels.

Eighteen states have raised their minimum wage.

Even in traditionally conservative states, surprising things are happening. In Tennessee, a Republican legislature has enacted free community college and raised taxes for infrastructure. Nevada has expanded voting rights and gun control. New Mexico has increased spending by 11 percent and will dramatically boost its minimum wage in the coming years.

Teachers have gone on strike in Virginia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina — and won. The public sided with the teachers.

In several states, after decades of tough-on-crime policies, conservative groups have joined with liberals to reform criminal justice systems. Early childhood education and alternative energy promotion have also expanded nationwide, largely on a bipartisan basis.

In 2018, South Carolina passed a law giving pregnant workers and new mothers more protections in the workplace. The law emerged from an unlikely coalition: supporters of abortion rights and religious groups that oppose them. A similar alliance in Kentucky enacted laws requiring that employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and new mothers.

The arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern. Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, we eventually rally and move forward.

Sometimes it takes an economic shock like the bursting of a giant speculative bubble. Sometimes we just reach a tipping point where the frustrations of average Americans turn into action.

Now, come forward in time with me.

Look at the startling diversity of younger Americans. Most Americans under 18 years old are ethnically Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, African American, or of more than one race. In 10 years, it’s projected that most Americans under 30 will be.

Three decades from now, most of America will be people of color or of more than one race. That diversity will be a huge strength. Hopefully it will mean more tolerance, less racism, less xenophobia.

Young people are determined to make America better. I’ve been teaching for almost 40 years, and I’ve never taught a generation of students as committed to improving the nation and the world as is the generation I’m now teaching. A record percentage of them voted in the 2018 midterm elections — another sign of our future strength.

Meanwhile, most college students today are women, which means that in future years even more women will be in leadership positions — in science, politics, education, nonprofits and in corporate suites. That will also be a great boon to America.

To state it another way, there is ample reason for hope.

But hope is not enough. For real change to occur, the locus of power in the system will have to change. Millions will need to be organized and energized — not just for a particular election but for an ongoing movement, not just for a particular policy but to reclaim democracy from the moneyed interests so that an abundance of good policies are possible.

The oligarchs and plutocrats would like nothing better than for the rest of us to give up and drop out. That way, they get it all.

But we never have, and we never will. Preserving and expanding democracy has been America’s central project since its founding. It’s an unending fight. And no matter how bleak it may look, we will never stop fighting.

Robert Reich’s latest book is “The Common Good,” and his newest documentary is “Saving Capitalism.”

(50) comments

francesca_easa

I prefer an America where one is self reliant, the skies the limit and we are all United by one language, one currency and one flag.

rikkitikkitavvi

That works for me Francesca. Depending on which language, which currency and which flag. Gotta be very specific in this day and age.

des21

There truly are 2 America's- one where wages for all earners are up, unemployment is at it's lowest since WW2 and the US is the economic engine of the world. The other where all is doom and gloom. I am truly grateful that I live in the optimistic America with those people I care for and love. I feel bad for all of you who focus on all the bad- most of it occurring in your lurid imaginations. It's a form of mental illness and it is very sad. Your lives must seem desperate. My sympathies. I will pray for you to see the light.

public-redux

Did you see the study showing that some people will literally pay money to not be prayed for?

des21

Often times the thing people dislike about the religious is that they will presume to pray for them. I think that is sad.

public-redux

Not me. People can pray for me all they want. If they tell me about it, I'll even keep them updated on the progress. The only thing I dislike about religious folk is when they attempt to force their views on others via government.

The study focused on only two groups. Christians and non-religious. It would have been interesting if more religious groups were included. Would some Christians object to being prayed for by Hindus or vice-versa? That sort of thing.

DickD

Religion is good, especially when you practice what you preach.

hayduke2

Wait, now your judging people who disagree with you as mentally ill! [lol][lol][lol]

des21

Wait, of course not Hay. I am observing that people who cannot recognize good fortune are probably manically depressed.

hayduke2

But the article/column and its message is one of hope and future good things so your reaction to this puzzles me.

threecents

I am surprised that a religious person like yourself seems to only care about money.

des21

It's not money 3, it's data. RR ignores empirical data to make an emotional argument- a very common tool of the Left. As a scientist, I know that you know that one can't talk about factual information- the performance of the economy which no Democratic presidential candidate will bring up- for instance- and let emotions - Trump (or me) are mean, for instance- cloud one's judgement. You, and others here, who purport to care about "facts" and the "truth" are always making emotion-based arguments about subjective things like "justice" and "fairness". Those things do not mean the same things to two different individuals let alone 300 million Americas. What the top 1% of earners paid for the working of our political system is irrefutable. Perhaps they should get 36% of the votes! Wait, did he just say that!!! What a meany!!![lol][yawn]

awteam2000

Speaking of factual data as a scientist, since Trump’s inauguration, the unemployment rate for all people has continued to fall, including minorities and women.  Overall unemployment, which peaked at 10.0% under Obama, dropped all the way to 4.8% during Obama’s two terms.

It then has continued to drop from 4.8% to 3.9% under Trump. The African American unemployment rate, which dropped from its peak of 16.8% to 7.8% (cut by 52%) under Obama, has fallen from 7.8% to 6.3% under Trump (12%).  The Hispanic unemployment rate which dropped from its peak of 13.0% to 5.9% under Obama, has fallen from 5.9% to 4.7% under Trump.  The female unemployment rate which dropped from its peak of 8.3% to 4.4% under Obama, has fallen from 4.4% to 3.6% under Trump.

Just the facts.

DickD

Public, I will take all the prayers I can get, doesn't matter the religion. If they are praying for me, they aren't throwing stones at me - which by my beliefs would be worse.

rikkitikkitavvi

I mead duke

rikkitikkitavvi

Crap. I mean duke

awteam2000

Despite an increase in wages, most recently (2.9%), income inequality has increased, leading even more to feel they aren't keeping up. The top 1% of Americans made 26.3 times as much income as the bottom 99 percent. A family needs an annual income of $421,926 to be part of the top 1% income earners, nationally. Higher in Maryland. I would hope you didn’t sell your soul for a few coins.

des21

Who or what is buying souls? Not sure they exist so I'll sell mine!

awteam2000

I thought you were looking into as a future career ‘saving souls’? My bad 🤗.

des21

Not me AW. Souls (like angels, class and race) are a man-made object not existing in reality. How much for my sinning soul?

DickD

Thank you, Dave, I am so glad you have seen the light and will act Christ like from now on.

awteam2000

The Republican Party has lost it way: no longer the party of Lincoln but the party of Trump Exclusionist. Rightfully or wrongly ‘marching locked in step’ poisoned by bigotry, a party of old white guys who view ‘others’ not quite being Americans but those others taking advantage of them, not welcomed.

threecents

Republicans almost always say they are not racist, but perhaps this is the line that divides us: "Three decades from now, most of America will be people of color or of more than one race." If you are Republican, chances are good that really bothers you, while Democrats not so much.


veritas

And, right on cue, it’s three with the relentless, tedious and scurrilous Democrat mantra.

threecents

Please correct me if I am wrong. Maybe I am. Would it bother you if most Americans are not white 30 years from now? Just a question.

Obadiah Plainsmen

How about this, Since I will be dead in 30 years but for now it wouldn't bother me if most Americans are not white 30 seconds from now. Now my question to you, would it bother you if the Constitution was abolished 30 years from now and new form of "government" instituted?

veritas

Not as long as they’re legal citizens.

awteam2000

The US Constitution is one of the most well known constitutions in the world, and is the oldest governing law in the world for any major nation. It uniquely allows room for change, called Amendments. The first 10 amendments make provisions for protections of individual freedoms and provide the need for equal justice, all the while curbing the powers of the government in certain cases. The majority of the remaining amendments have focused on the expansion and protection of one’s civil rights. The US Constitution is the shortest documented constitution in the world, and has influenced the drafting of constitutions of many other countries since 1789. The future may bring changes to our constitution but I can’t see why it would go away.

Blueline

I think the more troubling factor will be what the debt/economy looks like 30 years from now. Will the US be more like Brazil, or France?

Obadiah Plainsmen

Aw,

The reason I asked about abolishing the Constitution is that today is Constitution Day 232 years ago the final draft was signed. And also today there is a growing number of people who advocate socialism. Roughly 40 % of American adults now say they prefer socialism to capitalism, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibits the government from amassing the immense power over the free market that socialism mandates.

awteam2000

Obadiah, I apologize for always disagreeing with your comments but I respect your views, just don’t agree with them.

The Constitution prohibits the government from amassing the immense power over the free markets. But it doesn’t limit the government from doing things in the public interest. Like public highways, Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare, armed services, setting the currency borrowing rate, (that’s very powerful and socialist), etc.

threecents

OB, I would like the constitution to be rewritten, as a lot of things in it are out of context with today's world (militias for example). You probably know that Jefferson wanted it re-written every 20 years or so.

threecents

"Roughly 40 % of American adults now say they prefer socialism to capitalism." Really?? I think roughly 100% prefer a combination to either extreme, whether they admit it or not.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Aw,

Yes they are 'socialist' per se . Most of the funding for all of those you listed come from Federal/State/Local taxes payed by the people from Jobs created in a free market economy. But that is changing. latest numbers show about 21 million people employed by Federal/State/ local governments. Soon with automation and technology that number will if it hasn't already will outnumber private sector 9free market economy) jobs. As population increases the demand for full government services and employment will increase. Cradle to grave coverage of health/Job/retirement is in the near future. The population will demand it. That is why the Constitution you have now will be abolished or should I say radically changed to give the government lots more control on your life, liberty and happiness. I believe a lot sooner than 30 years.

phydeaux994

OP, first, you wouldn't know what Socialism is if you tripped over it. Second, the Constitution and the Rule of Law were abolished on January 20, 2017 when Trump started ruling the Country. If you watched any of Corey Lewindowski stonewalling before the Judiciary Committee honoring Trumps order for him not to squeal on the POTUS. Third, why are you still poor as you stated yesterday when the U.S. Economy is the best it's been since President Obama turned it around and started it on a 10 year climb up that Trump is taking credit for. Hasn't your portfolio made you rich the past 2 1/2 years? 'splain that to me. Peace.

threecents

Veri and OP, Two birds with one stone: The new constitution will legalize all immigrants.

DickD

If most are not white, that will mean they will not be minorities. That will mean whites can demand special privileges.

DickD

You managed the Republican hate message, which substantiates three's comment.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Dick, Then you hate black republicans which makes you the epitome of bigotry and hate.

veritas

What in God’s name are you talking about?

secpol1970

Hate message? Only hate we see is from democrats.

DickD

No, OP, I hate no one.I don't go to Trump's rallies and fight with everyone, like Trump advocates. I will leave that up to Trump's cult.

public-redux

three, I disagree with the flow of your logic. I think it would be more accurate to say "If that really bothers you, chances are good that you are a Republican." Which says very little about how many Republicans are bothered by it. As you've seen, a lot of us are not. Americans are Americans.

threecents

No offense Pub, but I think many consider you a Rino - perhaps an endangered species.

public-redux

Yeah, I know. Odd though that the people who think that can never come up with a reason. And truth be told, the New Republican Party doesn’t seem to care any more about small government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberties. No offense taken.

threecents

I think the main reason is your obvious decency.

FCPS-Principal

Of course in 1968 Republicans had not yet gerrymandered themselves into near-permanent power. When 60% of the populace voted for Democratic governors, the Democrat won. Today, not necessarily so.

rikkitikkitavvi

Subtle Bob, but your true colors shine through.

public-redux

Red, white, and blue?

hayduke2

Optimism? A belief that America is bigger than any one individual?

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