Democracy is a form of government where people have a right enabling them to have a say in everything that affects their lives. However, our government is not a direct democracy, and as such, individuals are not empowered or able to have a say in the inner-workings of their government. Their beliefs are not heard as often as they would like, and they are given little to no opportunities to decide what the government will do. The average citizen has little access to political power, and as a result little influence in the government.
But if one individual chooses to change the government, and places that as their goal, then they have a chance of altering the system that governs their lives. If one such as Robert Reich works hard towards their goal, then they can possibly change the government to some degree. Robert Reich was an average man who had strong beliefs, and among those beliefs was the belief that to help people was just. His career in law began as a law clerk to a judge, and he eventually worked his way to the position of Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.
All of the time that Reich spent in Clinton’s cabinet was dedicated towards attempting to make his idea’s bear fruit. Although in the book Reich is the Secretary of Labor, he did not start out in this position. He worked his way up from the position of a law clerk, as I have previously stated, to a job that came with some measure of power. Reich attained this place in the government through his own efforts, and by showing that he had ideas suitable to fill in the role of Secretary of Labor. Reich is just one example of an ordinary person with true passion for their beliefs who was able to make a difference in the government.
In Reich’s book, he talks about how an average person named Steve Wandner had an idea to reduce unemployment. Reich explains that Steve’s idea was when unemployed people claimed that they were unemployed, that they had to be screened to find out whether or not they were permanently laid off so that they could find new jobs faster. Steve worked hard in order for his idea to be heard, and after being ignored several times, Reich gave him the attention his idea deserved. Later, Wandner’s idea became an official law. Anyone can make a difference in the government if they work hard to reach a position where it is possible.
During Robert Reich’s stay a part of President Clinton’s cabinet, he followed a strong belief in “putting the people first”. He cared deeply about helping the unemployed obtain new jobs and to retrain them in order to have better working skills, and in that same vein, better jobs further down the road. Reich also wanted to raise the minimum wage, show people the inequality of income in America, and much more. Reich’s ideas were not in any way offensive or unfair, he simply wanted to help people first rather than putting full attention on government issues such as reducing the deficit.
Because of this, many of his ideas were igored and rejected by the members of Clinton’s moderate administration. For example, during one of his meeting with Bill Ford, chairman of the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, Reich tried to explain to him the idea of retraining American workers. Reich ended up being yelled at and his idea rejected. Although many of Reich’s ideas were disregarded by other members of government he continued to pursue his goal of helping the working class of America. Reich was rather successful in performing his duties as Secretary of Labor.
One of his successes was helping pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. It allowed working class families to have more time off from work if they were injured or had a child. He was also successful in convincing President Bill Clinton in aiding the people rather than the government. In doing so Clinton decided to pass a law in raising the minimum wage 90 cents. This pleased many of the working class of America. Finally, Reich was also able to set up several reforms in order to help provide more jobs for the unemployed. For example, Reich gave 3 million dollars to a job center helping people trying to get employment.
Even though he want able to pass a law to retrain workers, he still managed to work hard and complete some of his goals. Reich was ignored by many government officials during his term as Secretary of Labor, and this greatly hindered his chances of getting his goals finished. But while this may be true, this was not the center of his experiences as the Secretary of Labor. Reich was aiming towards retraining Americans, and he is not the only one who has seen this as a valuable idea. Freddie Ray Marshall was the Secretary of Labor for Jimmy Carter, and he shared many similar ideas with Reich.
Both men were working to provide jobs for others, and they both were trying to get workers to be retrained. (F. Ray Marshall) If workers could get more training, they can possibly get better jobs. He also is a teacher, like Reich. However, unlike Reich, Marshall was able to pass many programs and to help reduce unemployment. I would say that some of Reich’s experiences were unique to his time as the Secretary of Labor, and that others were not. In conclusion, Reich was a man who fought all alone for his beliefs, and was more successful in some areas than in others.
To call him a failure is a little harsh, and to call him a success depends on your political views. All in all, Reich did what he felt would be best for the people who have little say in the government. Reich can be seen as a prime example of one who worked hard to have their voice heard, and as one who made a difference, even if it wasn’t as big a difference as he would’ve liked. Reich really seemed like he was a kind individual (but then again, he wrote the book) and even if he did not succeed in all his plans, he still changed some things for the better.