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Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich Does Reddit AMA

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich seems to be on a bit of a social media tear lately.

Not too long after starring in a viral clip humorously describing the credit crisis, Reich graced the “Ask Me Anything” subreddit, answering redditors’ questions about the worrisome state of the American economy, social policies he sees as harmful and what he perceives as the biggest mistake the White House made economically in recent years. (His answer? “…announcing that the stimulus package would lower the rate of unemployment to 8 percent.”)

The full slate of Reich’s reddit commentary can be viewed over on his user page, and provides a lot of interesting economic insight from the unique perspective of someone so close to the situation. Reich only planned on using reddit for a few hours, and some of the highlights of his time on the site include the following comments:

On looking to other countries for policy inspiration and whether he could be considered a “socialist”:

We don’t have to look to another country. For 3 decades after World War II, we were moving toward a society of broad-based prosperity. Then, starting in the late 1970s, we went backwards, toward more and more inequality. Let’s just return to the principles that guided us before. (And, no, I wouldn’t identify myself as a socialist or any other “ist.”)

On the role of youth in the 2012 election and earlier comments of Reich’s on Twitter that young people angry about the situation should “organize and mobilize”:

I’d recommend you get involved with a political campaign — local, state, or national, or even a ballot initiative — between now and Election Day. It’s the best way to understand politics from the ground up, find out where your skills and enthusiasms lie, how much time and energy you really want to devote. Obviously, it should be a campaign you believe in.

On how he discovered reddit, and r/trees:

[Reich’s son] Sam (who’s brilliant, by the way) has single-handedly ushered his old dad into the digital world. Without him, I wouldn’t be here on this site today. Without me, he wouldn’t be in the world. Fair trade… Sam, tells me [a brief comment about legalizing marijuana] will be big with “trees” (whatever that means).

Interesting, the last notable politician to do a reddit AMA- former House representative Anthony Weiner, just prior to his social media-initiated downfall- did very well with the site’s user base until Weiner scoffed at a question about marijuana legalization. (The former congressman did not appear to take the query seriously, and admonished r/trees users to “stay in school” and not do drugs.)

As the profile of reddit increases, it becomes ever more likely candidates seeking the desirable youth vote will turn to the social aggregator to win over the coveted young-voter demographic. Do you think reddit is a good format to reach out politically, and possibly garner votes?