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 forty 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 (see the above video). 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.
The 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, one of the nation's leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future;" "The Work of Nations," which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen's group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.