On March 1, Robert Reich, Professor at University of California Berkeley, former US Labour Secretary and prolific author, made a special stop at Allard Hall as part of his participation in the Lind Initiative in US Studies series which is hosted by the Liu Institute for Global Issues. Speaking to a packed audience in the Franklin Lew Forum, Reich spoke as part of the series The Trump Impact: Change, Challenges, Responses.
“Much of what I worry about these days is the rule of law,” Reich began his hour-and-a-half discussion, not shying away from the magnitude of the issues at hand. “The building blocks of a free and democratic society are being challenged as never before,” he continued, citing criticism of the free press—often through tweets—as well as courts and judges by the current US President.
Moderated by the Allard School of Law’s Professors Cristie Ford and Wei Cui, the conversation quickly moved to how we got to a place where Donald Trump could be elected president in the first place.
The short answer: populism. Reich spent time discussing how the US financial crisis of 2008 created the perfect situation for the development of authoritarian populism (led by Trump) and democratic populism (led by Bernie Sanders).
Delving into the varied financial issues currently faced by the US, Reich asserted he would be “willing to bet almost any amount of money that we will have another financial crisis in the next ten years. Maybe sooner.” Other topics included discussion of the future of financial regulation including Dodd-Frank, changes to current US tax law, and minimum guaranteed income policies. Reich also discussed the relationship between law, regulation, and corporate interests and the impact of the current Trump administration. During question period, Reich answered questions on a broad range of topics including NAFTA, the US Democratic party, and US foreign policy in the Middle East.
In the evening, Reich spoke again on the Trump Impact and where Canada and the US can go from here, interviewed and moderated by Dawna Friesen of Global National.