The sudden all-consuming focus on Afghanistan is distracting us from hugely important stuff that’s coming to a head at home.

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SOURCERobert Reich

I’m as sensitive as anyone to the sufferings of Afghani’s now, but I’ve had it with the sanctimony of journalists and pundits who haven’t thought about Afghanistan for 20 years—many of whom urged we get out—but who are now filling the August news hole with overwrought stories about Biden’s botched exit and Taliban atrocities. 

Yes, the exit could have been better planned and executed. Yes, it’s all horribly sad. But can we get a grip? The sudden all-consuming focus on Afghanistan is distracting us from hugely important stuff that’s coming to a head at home:

(1) Republican politicians and right-wing media worsening the surging Delta variant of COVID by fighting masks and vaccinations, as cities and school systems struggle to decide what to do;

(2) wildfires and floods consuming much of America, as House Democrats absurdly threaten to oppose Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget blueprint containing important measures to slow climate change;

(3) Texas on the verge of passing the nation’s most anti-democracy voting restrictions, adding to voter suppression measures in 24 other states, at the same time the “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” – which would remedy these horrendous laws – languish in the Senate because Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema refuse to do anything about the filibuster. 

Enough sanctimony over Afghanistan. Enough about Biden’s falling approval ratings. We’ve had enough wall-to-wall coverage of the Olympics and then Andrew Cuomo and now the airport in Kabul. Can we please focus on the biggest things that need and deserve our attention right now? The window of opportunity to do anything about them will close sooner than we expect. 

If we don’t take action now on COVID and the critical importance of vaccinations and masks, on climate change and Biden’s $3.5 trillion package, and on voter suppression and the necessity of the For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Acts, we may never. 

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Robert Reich
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

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