More about Robert Reich’s The Common Good:
When Reich emphasizes the role of leadership in correcting our national move away from the common good, he’s speaking my language. As he puts it, “leadership must entail trusteeship.”
As I’ve stressed several times in this blog, leadership, to be effective, must be focussed on the well-being of the follower. The leader’s job is to support, develop, and raise up his or her followers, to do everything possible for the followers to be the best that they can be. That’s what Reich means by trusteeship—contributing to the common good by helping others.
A genuine leader, in other words, contributes to the common good. Reich quotes Shimon Peres, a former prime minister and president of Israel. He says that leadership is “defined not by personal ambition, but my morality and a call to service.” Leadership is defined by serving.
Good education for all is another factor in the common good. Otherwise, citizens lack the skills to make good decisions for themselves and their neighbors. We Americans have, on the whole, failed to assure good education for all. The data Reich cites makes the point better than I can: “In 2016, one out of every four Americans believed the sun rotates around the earth; a third did not believe in evolution; a third did not accept the reality of global warming, and even among those who did, many did not believe that humans are at least partly responsible. Without shared truth, democratic deliberation is impossible.” (Italics added).
One symptom of America’s education weakness is lack of trust in major media. This is new. As Reich says, in the 1970’s, 72 percent of Americans expressed trust and confidence in the press. But in 2016, “only 18 percent of Americans said they trusted national news media, according to the Pew Research Center. In a Gallup poll at about the same time, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed that the mainstream press was filled with ‘fake news.’”