The 2012 election should be about what’s going on
in America’s boardrooms, but Republicans would rather it be about
Mitt Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage; President Obama just
announced his support. North Carolina voters have approved a
Republican-proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex
marriage. Minnesota voters will be considering a similar amendment in
November. Republicans in Maryland and Washington State are seeking to
overturn legislative approval of same-sex marriage there.
Meanwhile, Republicans have introduced over four hundred bills in
state legislatures aimed at limiting womens’ reproductive rights –
banning abortions, requiring women seeking abortions to have invasive
ultra-sound tests beforehand, and limiting the use of contraceptives.
The Republican bedroom crowd don’t want to talk about the nation’s
boardrooms because that’s where most of their campaign money comes from.
And their candidate for president has made a fortune playing board
rooms like checkers.
Yet America’s real problems have nothing to do with what we do in our
bedrooms and everything to do with what top executives do in their
boardrooms and executive suites.
We’re not in trouble because gays want to marry or women want to have
some control over when they have babies. We’re in trouble because CEOs
are collecting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers,
because the titans of Wall Street demand short-term results over
long-term jobs, and because of a boardroom culture that tolerates
financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright
bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.”
Our crisis has nothing to do with private morality. It’s a crisis of
public morality – of abuses of public trust that undermine the integrity
of our economy and democracy and have led millions of Americans to
conclude the game is rigged.y and democracy and have led millions of Americans to
conclude the game is rigged.
What’s truly immoral is not what adults choose to do with other
consenting adults. It’s what those with great power have chosen to do to
the rest of us.
It is immoral that top executives are richly rewarded no matter how
badly they screw up while most Americans are screwed no matter how hard
Regressive Republicans have no problem intruding on the most personal
and most intimate decisions any of us makes while railing against
government intrusions on big business.
They don’t hesitate to hurl the epithets “shameful,” “disgraceful,”
and “contemptible” at private moral decisions they disagree with, while
staying stone silent in the face of the most contemptible violations of
public trust at the highest reaches of the economy.
We must protect and advance private rights of individuals over
intimate bedroom decisions. We must also stop the abuses of economic
power and privilege that are characterizing so many decisions in the
nation’s boardrooms and executive suites.
Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He writes a blog at www.robertreich.org. His most recent book is Beyond Outrage.