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Kevin Drum's recent article, Why the Democratic Party Has Abandoned the Middle Class in Favor of the Rich, has rightly been getting a lot of attention lately. It focuses our attention on a crucial piece of the story of America's economic collapse: how the Democratic Party went from being the voice of the middle class to becoming sycophants of the rich, enthusiastically endorsing positions that destroyed prosperity in order to help the wealthy hold more of their money and power.

But if we are to understand this story, we have to get it right. And Kevin Drum doesn't really do that here. At the center of his story is the fate of American labor unions. He argues that the New Left-influenced Democrats ignored and abandoned the needs of working people, and that opened a breach within the Democratic Party that was difficult to heal. He's wrong about that, as he's also wrong in implying that the labor movement is in terminal decline. As we work to rebuild social democratic politics in America, we need to make sure we understand what really happened.

Part of the problem is that Drum begins his story in the 1960s. In fact, discussions of recent American politics really needs to begin in the late 1940s. At that time, the Democratic Party had been in power for 15 years (at least in the White House) and was committed to a progressive agenda. That agenda included not only core economic principles like full employment and universal health care, it also included a commitment to civil rights, global peace, and organizing the hell out of the American workplace.

But the right never accepted this agenda. They had won some electoral victories along the way - the 1938 midterms brought the New Deal to a halt, the 1946 midterms gave the right control of Congress (and delivered Taft-Hartley, among other horrors). But it was the emerging Cold War that shattered the progressive Democratic coalition. The right mercilessly painted that coalition as a bunch of Stalinists, and under siege, the coalition split. Democratic leaders like Truman, as well as labor leaders like Walter Reuther and George Meany, felt they had no choice but to purge the left. And so they did.

By 1950 the social democratic movement in America was dead. The economic agenda that FDR had proposed in 1944 - the Second Bill of Rights - was abandoned. It's worth reminding ourselves of what FDR wanted his legacy to look like:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

Civil rights was jettisoned (and was only advanced because activists themselves refused to give up). Democrats, along with the leaders of labor, embraced the Cold War and abandoned their agenda of peace. And they concluded that prosperity would be delivered by the free market and by large corporations, with some generally minor regulations to prevent another Depression.

During the repressive 1950s, labor leaders felt they had reached the best deal they could get - they had secured their position in American politics and the economy (or so they thought) by abandoning their social democratic agenda, by purging the left, and by fully embracing a corporate, militaristic state.

These leaders were generally unprepared for the 1960s. That's not true of all unions - some had been funding social democratic activism and civil rights work all along. Kevin Drum mentioned the Port Huron Statement, which is seen as a classic New Left text, but what he didn't say is that it was written at a labor-sponsored conference by people active in the Student League for Industrial Democracy, a labor-funded organization designed to promote unionism in the new generation.

Drum writes of a caricatured New Left:

They were animated not by workplace safety or the cost of living, but first by civil rights and antiwar sentiment, and later by feminism, the sexual revolution, and environmentalism. They wore their hair long, they used drugs, and they were loathed by the mandarins of organized labor.

This is a massive oversimplification. The people who consciously saw themselves as a "New Left" - Students for a Democratic Society, for example - included economic concerns as a core issue. This was the era when poverty was the main issue. Michael Harrington's "The Other America" had shown that a lot of Americans were being left behind during postwar prosperity, and civil rights activism was, after all, largely about economic concerns. SDS launched efforts to bring the New Left into this fight through direct community organizing around issues of poverty. They called it the Economic Research and Action Project. It didn't produce the desired results, but it and subsequent efforts showed that the New Left was very deeply interested in working with labor and the working-class.

In some unions that desire was reciprocated. Peter Levy wrote an entire book on this in 1994, titled The New Left and Labor in the 1960s. Some unions, like Walter Reuther's UAW, were more open to the New Left. Others, like the building trades, were usually deeply hostile. George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO, was too deeply wedded to the 1950s model - labor had to fight the left and stand with the "liberal consensus" of war and corporate economics - to be sympathetic. The AFL-CIO strongly backed the war in Vietnam, even though many in the white working-class were ambivalent at best about it.

Still, the New Left was VERY interested in organized labor and in addressing economic issues. Always was. Of course, they were also interested in ensuring that racial and gender barriers to prosperity came down - they understood that prosperity was meaningless if it wasn't for everyone. That challenged the postwar power arrangement that labor leaders had invested everything in, and leaders like Meany didn't see the value to blowing that up.

Even more importantly, when there were unions that did see the value, their rank and file didn't always agree. Many rank and file union members had deeply invested in the notion of working class = white, and believed that people of color were a threat to their prosperity.

Nixon exploited these divisions brilliantly. In 1970 there was a "hard hat riot" on Wall Street, where construction workers attacked an anti-war protest. Nixon immediately seized on this to make it look like "real America" supported the war and hated hippies. Nixon wore a hard hat and played up the issue. But he also exploited the divisions over race. Nixon drove a wedge between civil rights activists and building trades unions in particular on affirmative action policies. Nixon used the policies to alienate white construction workers from black and Latino workers and their supporters in the New Left. (Read more about that here.)

There were New Left activists, especially by the late '60s, who spent quite a lot of time trying to organize the white working class. They did a lot of community organizing. In some places it worked, in some places it didn't. Persistent white working-class racism was a big barrier. Some participated in union reform movements that challenged the more conservative power structure.

There was a fundamental difference on economic questions, however. Many in the New Left were products of the middle-class, had seen the emptiness of the postwar economic system, and were advocating for something more radical. (Subsequent events have proven them right - the postwar policy of using free markets and free trade, overseen by corporations, to produce prosperity to be a failure.) Many rank and file white working-class people still felt their middle-class status was tenuous, and did not understand why the New Left was rejecting the middle-class lifestyle they themselves aspired to keep. They hadn't rejected American capitalism. It was working for them - at least for the time being - and were not sympathetic to efforts to change it.

By the mid-'70s New Left economic activism had begun to fade - the New Left was totally unprepared for neoliberalism and had never really been able to articulate a reaction against it, and when neoliberalism hit with full force, it was able to take advantage of the splits between the New Left and the labor bosses. Of course, the labor unions weren't prepared for neoliberalism either. They assumed that Democrats would always back Keynesian economics and would never vote for right-wing economic policies like deregulation and tax cuts.

Drum wants to argue that the presidential elections of 1968 and 1972 caused big splits within the Democratic coalition. I don't really think that's accurate. 1968's impact is overstated. The protests at the Chicago convention were a sign of discontent, but even many on the New Left wound up supporting Hubert H. Humphrey that fall - and had RFK lived, he would have won the nomination and would have had a better shot at unifying the New Left and the white working-class.

Nixon's policies of divide-and-conquer help explain some of the difficulties in 1972, when labor shied away from strongly backing George McGovern. But the backdrop was one of racial divisions. The New Left would never, ever endorse racism. Many in the white working-class did, especially in the fight against affirmative action or against busing. That divide was very difficult to bridge.

But the divides that existed made it difficult to react to the unexpected challenges of the 1970s. The rise of neoliberalism - policies designed to gut the public sector and give all power and wealth to the corporations - was sudden and neither the New Left nor labor expected Democrats to embrace it as deeply as they did. Jimmy Carter and many Congressional Democrats sold out the middle class from about 1978 onward. The divisions between the New Left and labor made it difficult to put up a common resistance - especially when labor unions still believed that the basic economic system was working, and when they felt they couldn't or shouldn't aggressively support the social and cultural agenda of the left. (When whites were rioting against disco music in the late '70s because it was seen as "black," you can see just one aspect of the problem.)

What did persist of the New Left tended to be more exclusively focused on social issues, and began to take the economic system for granted. Still, some New Left activists spent the 1980s fighting alongside labor to keep plants open and to stop deindustrialization. But this was never very widespread, and it did not help that after 1977 or so the Democratic Party had embraced neoliberalism as well. Most labor leaders were still unwilling to leave the Democratic Party (even after Clinton backstabbed them on NAFTA) because there didn't seem to be a viable alternative.

Unions only lately - and recently - began to discover that the New Left had been correct all along. Some discovered that sooner, some later. But it took right-wing victories, Democratic failures, and the post-2000 economic downward spiral to make that common ground possible.

The New Left tried. Labor leaders, by and large, were just not willing to listen. They didn't see the crisis ahead and when it came, they did not see the value of working with the New Left to respond - and by the late 1970s there wasn't much of a New Left remaining even if they had.

Kevin Drum's whole article does show, correctly, that labor leaders made a series of bad bets from about 1968 onward. They overestimated the degree to which the American political and economic elite wanted or needed them. And they were way, WAY too slow to realize that the Democratic Party's leadership had turned on them.

What Drum doesn't really examine is the way that white working-class racism made deeper coalitions with the New Left impossible. The reason that such coalitions are now possible is because many of those white working-class racists are finally dying off, and the more diverse Millennial generation is starting to outnumber them in the electorate.

The only hope for labor is to ally fully with the progressive left, and fight neoliberalism - and anyone who practices neoliberalism - with everything they've got. California labor has discovered this. They put together a great, diverse, progressive coalition that beat Meg Whitman by 13 points last year. Labor donated a lot of money to the campaign to defeat Prop 8 (and if that campaign had not been run by idiots, and had actually reached out to labor sooner, it might have succeeded in defeating Prop 8). Labor still has its problems - still too wedded to a top-down model - but there are now many more labor leaders who "get it," who understand the value of progressive politics and the progressive movement, and who hopefully realize the contempt in which they are held by most of the Democratic Party leadership.

Finally, Drum writes as if the labor movement is terminally ill. That's absurd. Labor unions have been around in the USA for nearly 200 years. They face unprecedented repression, to be sure. But strikes and unions have been outlawed or made difficult before, including in the late 19th century. Unions survive, because the basic fact remains that the only way working people will have decent conditions and pay is if they organize for it themselves.

The challenge is to find ways to promote union organizing in a 21st century economy. Democrats, including President Obama, failed unions and failed progressives when they failed to advance the Employee Free Choice Act. Progressives didn't fight as hard as we should have either. Our movement cannot succeed without labor unions - because we will keep losing as long as our workplaces are not democratic.

But when you go to Netroots Nation in Minneapolis next month, and see all the union organizing there, and union members, and union sponsorships, you'll see the future of progressive coalitions. And you'll see the future of America. We have a chance to finally bring together the left and labor, after nearly 50 years of effort. It sucks that it comes during a severe crisis. But the opportunity is there. Let's make sure we take it.

Originally posted to robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, In Support of Labor and Unions, The Amateur Left, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  More can and should be written... (150+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaggies2009, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, zenbassoon, J M F, wu ming, MichiganGirl, Vtdblue, aliasalias, Gooserock, LaEscapee, joanneleon, Pluto, DaveW, happy camper, nicolemm, Mimikatz, petral, Linnaeus, cosmic debris, martini, Floande, supercereal, James Allen, Leftcandid, ShadowRunning, blueness, Trotskyrepublican, mango, notrouble, Nulwee, PatriciaVa, triv33, Justina, flitedocnm, JekyllnHyde, JugOPunch, potatohead, Shockwave, dkmich, PhilJD, Wolf10, tardis10, emal, DiegoUK, Involuntary Exile, quill, targetdemographic, blueoasis, David Kaib, copymark, libnewsie, debedb, Dante Atkins, slatsg, mjd in florida, Dallasdoc, glitterscale, Mary Mike, Chi, Tentwenty, jeff bryant, Carlo, dance you monster, poligirl, bekosiluvu, AverageJoe42, priceman, TealTerror, BMarshall, Goobergunch, maybeeso in michigan, KJG52, lotlizard, Pilgrim X, Matt Z, bibble, Ivan, Norm1952, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, NoisyGong, Unbozo, NY brit expat, squarewheel, grollen, timethief, Battling Maxo, socalmonk, monkeybrainpolitics, happymisanthropy, lilypew, kck, a small quiet voice, radarlady, BYw, akeitz, Colorado is the Shiznit, Renee, Jake Williams, DoctorRobert, willibro, Badabing, JesseCW, Odysseus, ruleoflaw, brae70, TexDem, Eric Blair, Philoguy, Rick Aucoin, martinjedlicka, begone, elwior, TomP, Clytemnestra, Sharon, seabos84, McGahee220, psnyder, poe, Williston Barrett, ozsea1, greengemini, NBBooks, cinnamon68, Tookish, Situational Lefty, opinionated, expatjourno, zedaker, Zinman, Mike Taylor, Agathena, Nonpartisan, Euroliberal, samanthab, aufklaerer, bronte17, jnhobbs, Ginger1, The Wizard, 2laneIA, Clues, Geenius at Wrok, la58, SJerseyIndy, evergreen2, mofembot, BobBlueMass, disrael, kaliope

    ...about the Dems' embrace of neoliberalism, a story in which Jimmy Carter plays a prominent role. But the key today is to know that we will never overcome neoliberalism until progressives and unions are working together to support each other's issues and goals. That will not be easy. But it is necessary.

    I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

    by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:27:52 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. Some of this is also PTSD from the Reagan (37+ / 0-)

      Revolution and Clinton's bear hug to the neoliberals, obviously, but you're right about the only way forward being coalescing of progressive and organized labor, and that the system is highly rigged to prevent that from happening. Which is why the neolib Dems and the Repugs are trying to exterminate collective bargaining and labor unions, directly or obliquely.

      Great diary. Republished with pleasure in The Amateur Left group site.

      Conservatives are] engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; ...the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. JK Galbraith

      by Vtdblue on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:02:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  With Trumka Saying Party Support is On Ice (59+ / 0-)

      other than on a candidate basis, a crucial first step has been taken.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:03:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reagan Democrats often overstated (18+ / 0-)

      I think it's important that you've pointed out the shift towards neoliberalism in the Democratic Party predates the phenomenon of the "Reagan Democrats".  It adds necessary context to explain, in part, why they voted as they did.  And those voting patterns weren't always permanent.

      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

      by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:15:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In 1980... (8+ / 0-)

        ...what reason had Jimmy Carter given those "Reagan Democrats" to stay with the party?

        I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

        by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:56:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's the rub (6+ / 0-)

          A lot of the "Reagan Democrat" sentiment had more to do with disappointment in Carter than liking Reagan qua Reagan.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:39:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior

            I read somewhere (I forget the source) that a lot of people who supported Ted Kennedy in the Democratic primary were quoted as saying that if Kennedy didn't get the nomination, they'd be voting for Reagan. Apparently they were in a mood to give the New Deal one last spin, and if they couldn't have it that way, they'd at least vote for the man who could pretend he was FDR, rather than being FDR's actual heir.

        •  Two words: Title IX (12+ / 0-)

          Women, particularly educated working professional women, would still be nursing and washing dishes if it weren't for Title IX.  And we certainly remember who signed it into law: Jimmy Carter.  

          We also remember who opposed the ERA -- Republicans.  So...is it any wonder that educated working professionals who happen to be female have stayed with the Democratic Party?  

          Remember, before Title IX, it was LEGAL for schools to say out loud and in writing "sorry, we don't accept women to the engineering school/graduate school/medical school/law school" and "we have different acceptance criteria for men versus women" (my aunt was actually told this by Stony Brook -- pre-Title IX) and "girls shouldn't participate in sports, so we don't have to have sports teams for them at all..."  

          While Birch Bayh introduced and put through Title IX, Jimmy Carter signed it into law.  Note that Birch Bayh's wife had a graduate degree in Chemistry, and literally could not find work in her field, teaching or doing anything else above "chief lab bottle-washer" because of discrimination against women in the sciences.  

          "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

          by bekosiluvu on Sun May 29, 2011 at 06:55:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Reagan Democrats have mostly come (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        willibro

        back. Places where the Regan Democrats predominated--Macomb County, MI; Northeast Philadelphia, PA; IL-3 and IL-5, once home to Dan Rostenkowski and Bill Lipinski, Sr; blue-collar suburbs of Baltimore; and so forth--have now returned to voting solidly Democratic for president.  As much as people hate them here, the DLC successfully brought back working class and blue collar voters to the Democratic fold.

        While these voters returned, within America's rural precincts, the Democrats began bleeding rural voters after 1994. And they really haven't come back since then.

        •  Agree on the comeback, wouldn't credit DLC. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Kaib

          I think it was pro-union, pro-working-class Democrats like David Bonior, Sander Levin, etc. who helped bring back the Reagan Democrats - and that should be the recipe for the Democratic party as a whole.

          I was gonna write a long comment about the history of social democracy/ socialism in Europe and its roots in the radical union movement, about how the US is different because of immigration/ westward expansion/ slavery/ race tensions etc. ... for now, I'll just wager that class consciousness, the realization that one is a worker, whether one likes it or not, is a necessary first step - especially in the United States, where one usually is not poor, but a millionaire in waiting...

          "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

          by aufklaerer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:03:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well written (20+ / 0-)
      What Drum doesn't really examine is the way that white working-class racism made deeper coalitions with the New Left impossible. The reason that such coalitions are now possible is because many of those white working-class racists are finally dying off, and the more diverse Millennial generation is starting to outnumber them in the electorate.

      I would say it is more about the influence of Generation X than the Millennial generation. We are the first generation raised with no memory of a time when the Civil Rights Act was not the law. We where born between '65 and '79 (some definitions alter the range slightly) so it wasn't until the '98 elections that all of us where able to vote.

      The failure to nail currant jelly to a wall is not due to the nail; it is due to the currant jelly. Theodore Roosevelt

      by notrouble on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:47:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Equality and justice (19+ / 0-)

        Much is made on the right about Freedom -- a traditional American value that they stretch and abuse to try to justify their corporatist, Randian radical economic agenda.  It is the excuse they use to allow the rich to get richer and to hell with everybody else.

        But Equality and Justice are equally American values that have been conspicuous by their absence in political rhetoric over recent decades.  These are the values that the Left can use to frame an anti-neoliberal economic populism, and begin to forge the coalition between Labor and the Left that will rebuild a lasting majority for the Democratic party.

        Equality does not permit ever-rising income inequality, dangerous concentrations of wealth or corporate control of democracy.  It is the bedrock principle that underlies the value of the middle class, and is the fundamental principle that should be used to justify Rebuilding the Middle Class.  This is the slogan I've long advocated progressives and labor adopt to unite around.  Equality tore the old Democratic coalition apart, given the strains of racism and competition for jobs in the working class in the reforms of the 60's and the recessions of the 70's.  But equality is more accepted today, and building a movement on the foundation stone of equality will help unite social leftists with economic populists in a more durable way than the old coalition permitted.

        Justice, in the social sense, is similarly critical in rebuilding the middle class and moving the country in more progressive directions.  Much higher taxes on the rich, on income and estates, can be strongly advocated on the principle of social justice.  Those who have benefited most from our society should be expected to give back in proportion to their benefit:  that's only justice.  Giving all Americans, whatever their background, an equal chance at success in life is also social justice.  Treating all Americans alike under law, and taking away barriers to doing so is justice.  

        Economic populism is the key to a durable majority -- Drum is right about that, though he's far from the first to point it out.  But our earlier New Deal coalition's failure contains lessons we need to heed to build a better coalition.  The values underpinning a left majority need to be clear, bold, and confidently stated.   Those values will bring us together, and guide us when arguments and divisions threaten.

        Capitalism conquered communism, and now it's got democracy on the ropes. (JP Barlow)

        by Dallasdoc on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:52:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  a word of caution (16+ / 0-)

        particularly re that quote

        it has always been dangerous and untrue to believe that someday the old racists would be dead,,

        Racism is a system -- yes supported by attitudes and everyday actions -- but a system that persists

        one of the on-going debates in the anti-capitalist meetups and elsewhere is around the centrality of class versus the import of intersectionality..

        Racism sexism heterosexism must be confronted together with classism  - not swept to the side

        While there may be more opportunity now for coalitions with unions-- beware!!

        perhaps the major perpetrator of institutionalized racism is the prison industrial complex and guess who stands firmly in the way of efforts to decriminalize and decarcerate??

        that's right Correctional Officer Unions

        Many of the same barriers remain -- yes we should proceed in coalition building but until the racism and sexism asnd heterosexism are simultaneously addressed ..

        Well then deja vu

        •  Agree on confronting all together (7+ / 0-)

          Each system of putting some Americans down to favor others is pernicious and antithetical to American ideals.  That's why I wrote just above you about grounding a labor-left coalition on the values of equality and justice.  There will inevitably be frictions and conflicts between members of the coalition, but shared common values give us a way to adjudicate those disputes and a framework for finding solutions to keep the coalition moving forward.

          Capitalism conquered communism, and now it's got democracy on the ropes. (JP Barlow)

          by Dallasdoc on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:02:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And a good deal of (6+ / 0-)

            these race and gender inequalities boil down to systematic economic inequalities.  That's why you can't address civil rights without addressing economic inequality and the way class stratifications reproduce themselves as a result of lack of access to things like, for instance, good education.  I disagree with Sooth somewhat.  The younger generation begins with the premise that men, women, blacks, whites, gay, straight, etc, should be treated equally.  For them this is obvious and normal.  This opens the possibility of genuine discussion about class inequality.

            •  That's just not true, though. (5+ / 0-)

              Minorities with the same level of education as white men are paid less. When you focus solely on class stratifications, you ignore that.

              And, please. An appreciation for the "premise" of equality does not translate into a willingness to sacrifice privilege. We've been talking about class inequality for a long time. "Genuine discussions" aren't what we need; we need genuine commitments to change.

              •  i suspect that one way to make those commitments (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chaboard, Philoguy, evergreen2, nicolemm

                easier to get is to change the structure of our economy such that everyone isn't terrified of falling into the abyss, and defending whatever privileges they still have.

                affordable public universal healthcare, reliable public pensions, free public education through college, decent public transit to insulate us from the price of oil, guaranteed affordable housing, and jobs good and plentiful enough for everyday people to get by on, and a lot of whites would be less determined to hold onto their advantages and kick out the ladder before anyone else comes up.

                the good thing about all of our problems being linked in a vicious cycle, is that our solutions are also mostly linked in a virtuous cycle.

                •  but racism stands in the way (5+ / 0-)

                  there is a substantial body of work that indicates that "American Exceptionalism" re a derth of social programming as you describe has been resisted n the USA because such programs are perceived as "black programs"

                  whites resist programs that would benefit them too because they feel that blacks will be lifted up too -- hey that's currently Teaparty 101

                  Among other sources please see Jill Quandango

                  TThe Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty

                  Until racism sexism and heterosexism stand in the way of the economic advances you suggest - all these issues must be addressed simultaneously

                  •  There's no way to (0+ / 0-)

                    address those issues simultaneously so long as they aren's seen as advancing the interests of everyone.  So long as such changes are seen as only advancing the interests of one group all the other groups will dig their heels in.  The only way to proceed is through solidarity, not division.

                  •  this is true (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    soothsayer99

                    and is a major obstacle for all of us to overcome, but i still think that it is possible, by designing programs that benefit broad classes of people in ways that are immediate, so that those white people who are primed to oppose anything perceived as going to nonwhites have a personal stake in it.

                    personally, the demographic makeup of the tea party phenomenon gives me some hope for getting past the 1970s backlash white resentment trap. while racism as a system is very much alive and well, that mode of resentment politics seems to be appealing to an older slice of the white electorate than when i was growing up in the 80s.

                    reducing the level of economic anxiety among whites would give antiracists a foothold to make progress on other fronts, IMO. that is not to say that economic policy is more important, nor that social justice issues should wait until "more important" economic policy is achieved, i'm making a tactical case for how the one makes the other easier. i'm well aware of how BS it is for a white guy like me to tell other people "wait" when their dignity is at stake.

              •  That's a good point. (0+ / 0-)

                In my view the wealthy class uses every means at it's disposal to expropriate capital from workers.  One of these strategies consists in unequal pay to women and minorities for equal work.

          •  I also think we need new (6+ / 0-)

            vocabularies here to reflect a work force that's changed significantly. When people hear "labor" they hear "hardhats".  But we're not just talking about hardhats.  We're talking about all sorts of office workers as well:  people who do data entry, assistants, people in sales, teachers, etc, etc, etc.  We need to be inclusive in these discussions and form a "labor" movement that reflects the manner in which we've moved to a service economy.

            •  I agree with that (6+ / 0-)

              "Labor" is one of those loaded words that has been demonized to a large degree.  An updated version might be "working families," which includes dependents of folks who depend on their paychecks to get by.  

              The best way to characterize labor is probably to contrast it with the predatory rich, those who victimize all of us to their own disproportionate gain.  Every movement has to define itself in contrast to an opponent, and painting that opponent as clearly and as unflatteringly as possible is key to building the movement.  Not only the economic disparities, but the victimization of normal folks for the further gain of those at the top need to be emphasized.  This has to be a moral as well as an economic argument.

              Capitalism conquered communism, and now it's got democracy on the ropes. (JP Barlow)

              by Dallasdoc on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:02:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Wisconsin Correctional Employees want to know (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, 2laneIA, greengemini, nicolemm
          What the fuck...
          Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com
          ...do we have to do to satisfy...
          Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com
          ...purity trolls...
          Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com
          ...who want to sow distrust within the working class?
          Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com
          The prison-industrial complex is real.  It is corrosive to the very idea of a just society where all people, rich or poor, are governed by laws.  The Koch Brothers, ALEC, Scott Walker and their toadies would like nothing better than to "privatize" prisons and turn the criminal justice system into a source of slave labor.  The union workers on the front line of this fight in Wisconsin are pictured above.

          Your link to the California is interesting.  To the best of my knowledge, the CCPOA is foursquare in favor of keeping California's prisons in the public sector.

          Perhaps I'm mistaken.  Perhaps California is different from Wisconsin despite our shared love of palm trees.  I don't know any CO's from California.  I have met some from Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota and they all agree with me (and the hundreds of Wisconsin CO's that I spent the last 30 years with) that privately run prisons are a bad thing.

          Since January, I've busy working to recall the Republican dickweed state senator who represents abandoned the 18th district and voted to destroy my union.  So busy in fact that I completely missed the memo instructing me and my union brothers and sisters to take up arms in defense of the prison-industrial complex.  

          Apparently the rest of the AFL-CIO, and every other working person is now my class enemy.  Thanks for setting me straight on that, soothsayer99!

          When your done weeding out all the undesirables from your revolutionary movement, I'm sure that you and your cat will succeed in overthrowing the capitalist oppressors and establish a just and peaceful society with full opportunity and dignity for all.

          Solidarity!

          If you can play the cowbell, thank a sheet metal worker.

          by ruleoflaw on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:25:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Critical point here (20+ / 0-)

      that I didn't see spelled out much:

      The use of a few Communist boogeymen (the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss) et cetera. We not used to silence Democrats, per se. There were always Democrats opposed to the New Deal.

      What this did was turn back the clock to the kind of environment where populists like Huey Long (long deceased) and anti-capitalists could not operate.

      The New Deal, as I've written about extensively and repeatedly, was not the culmination of the most leftwing ideas in the country. It was a compromise between FDR and the capitalist forces of the country, with FDR's implicit threat of the mob behind him. This was one of my main ideas in several ideas.

      You cannot recreate that economically progressive environment today with ineffectual socialist and worker and green parties and no clear leftwing apparatus in the Democratic Party. You cannot recreate it when the furthest left you can go is a wonky, technocratic, Gen Xer coalition that accepts capitalism. That creates a compromise much further right than those groups of the 1930s.

      What happened to the Democratic Socialists--who are embedded in the party? They have no bargaining power.

      I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

      by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:59:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sorry for the typos. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, ruleoflaw, elwior

        One of my main ideas in several diaries which were received controversially here.

        I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

        by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:01:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, that is an important story (24+ / 0-)

        I only hinted at it here. It does need to be told. You are absolutely right that the New Deal is not the model we should pursue - it was an unworkable effort to tame capitalism. FDR made a compromise, but in 1944 he was clearly suggesting that the final resolution needed to be solidly progressive. FDR wasn't Huey Long, to be sure, but even the Second Bill of Rights would have been a big improvement over the half-measures of the New Deal.

        What happened to the democratic socialists? They were all purged, whether in the 1940s or 1970s and 1980s. Since the late 1940s Democrats have usually chosen corporations over the rest of us. The difference is that since the Carter Administration, "usually" became "always" - and the corporate agenda shifted dramatically to the right after about 1975.

        I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

        by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:11:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Jimmy Carter (11+ / 0-)

          had 61 senators. However, his was a successful attempt to keep the south Democratic, before there was enough cultural change in the north for a sustainable Democratic Party.

          We like to point to Reagan but in reality, Nixon destroyed this country. Nixon is so evil his ghoulishness haunts us today, if no longer in corporeal form. The author's incredible article is right to point out the culture wars--we are still living in them. In turn, historian Rick Perlstein concluded his book Nixonland with the warning that we still live in Nixon's fractured America today. It's an America where young, gay Americans will vote for the GOP (a sizable minority). It's an America where states with some of the largest Democratic voter bases will probably never vote for Obama (Oklahoma and Kentucky). For a decade, we heard the lament that voters in America vote against their economic-interests.

          Well, that's because Nixon turned this country into a madhouse, a land of nightmares and contradiction and nonsense.

          Generations come into play. As long as Boomer-aged Americans continue to fight those wars of the 60s (I'm informed today that is' Dylan's 70th birthday) it's a lost cause. It's always youth that apply new perspectives to social problems. That was the only hope for Japan in its state of national crisis--where young people have no jobs and the old resent them. It's only a more subtler version of that generational problem here, where the housing crisis, safety net problems and political and economic stagnation all occur because youth have no purchasing power, no job prospects and are not creating children--the expected, necessary contributors to our safety nets. As long as we're fighting battles that are 40-something years old, we lose. Markos intuitively knows this, based on the most cursory readings of his Gen X rants.

          All progress would be made through the youth generation. Obama isn't losing Gen Y--the Democratic Party is, period, because of the inflexibility of the generations attached. Youth are not interested in the ideological wars of the boomer generation, nor are they interested in the begrudged existence afforded to Gen X.

          We are, in fact, in a state of national crisis of our own, and as during the Depression and WWII it is only through youth that these problems will be solved. Until would-be progressives reflect their interests, rather than condescend to assume their interests,  and scold them, the battle is lost. Only a couple of years ago, a poll showed a historic number of youth disagree with capitalistic assumptions about the economy. Historic numbers of youth are also independent.

          That is a recipe ripe for economic leftism.  What progressives refuse to do is reach them in a fair-handed way. It refuses to reach them on "their" terms--either blaming the goose that lays the golden eggs itself, or Obama for not doing enough. Effectively, responsibility is absolved of the real agents for change.

          This morning, I received an e-mail from a disaffected Gen Y writer who told me that Daily Kos long ago lost the battle for the future. And given the subject of my last diary, it's hard for me to disagree with him.

          I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

          by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:36:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree with all of this (16+ / 0-)

            Nixon really set a lot of this in motion, but he also exploited existing differences quite effectively.

            I agree also on the Millennial generation (we don't self-identify as "Gen Y" because we don't like being linked to Gen X). I had a contract to write a book on those very issues, how Millennials will rebuild the American Dream, but the publisher went bankrupt earlier this year, so I need to find a new one.

            As to Daily Kos, well, it never seemed that interested in waging a battle for the future. It wages battles for the present. Which has its uses, but also has its limits.

            I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

            by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:45:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Argh (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nulwee, Rick Aucoin, elwior
            begrudged existence afforded to Gen X.

            We're gonna be begrudged or (worse) made to be villains all our lives.  The burden we must bear, apparently.

            Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

            by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:02:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  if we're allowed an existence, begrudged or not (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nulwee, Linnaeus, elwior, Geenius at Wrok

              i suppose it's better than nothing.

            •  Linnaeus, I understand this dynamic, (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Matt Z, Linnaeus, elwior, Floande

              I do. And this site is a testament of your generation's ability to find its own way and create and edit and review.

              The day is not far off when Gen X will be the status quo. It's closer than you think.

              I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

              by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:04:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, I understand (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nulwee, elwior, wu ming

                Just to make clear, I understand that you were making an observation, not a normative judgement, and I think your observation is accurate.

                Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 06:11:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Lovely. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, elwior, Floande, aufklaerer

                Since GenX (my own generation) is the most reliable Republican voting block from the stats I read out of the 2000-2008 exit polling.  

                Well, the 70+ year old voter is actually slightly more reliably republican but the Gen X age group is the solid middle of the Republican party.  

                Argh.

                The Democrats set the Rules of the Senate. Don't like the President's nominee's being filibustered? Don't forget who could have kept it from happening. The Democrats. Why didn't they? They didn't want to.

                by Rick Aucoin on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:21:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  a lot has to do with where the divisions are set (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Nulwee, Rick Aucoin, elwior, aufklaerer

                  the older side of gen x (also called gen. jones) tends to vote GOP, while the younger side is on a continuum with the millennials, getting more and more left with every year.

                •  You reap what you sow (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Rick Aucoin, elwior

                  I don't see what crying over scenario where the Silent Gen is passing on and there are fewer Republican voters accomplishes.

                  The previous generations completely screwed Gen X, so any cynicism and lack of appreciation for society may be merited to some degree. They were the first generation to grow up after marriage and a family was no longer the norm and they suffered a lot of their own trauma, consequently.

                  I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

                  by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:17:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, Gen X... (0+ / 0-)

                    ... is the generation that came of age in the Reagan/Bush I era by the main, so it's bound to have an effect on our demographic voting trends.

                    But for fuck sake.  The generation that invented Ecstasy and all the other "designer drugs", Motley Crue, parachute pants... okay, I'll admit parachute pants were a bad idea...

                    It's just hard to grasp that more Gen Xers vote Republican than any other generational segment (except the previously mentioned rapidly disappearing 70-year-old segment).

                    The Democrats set the Rules of the Senate. Don't like the President's nominee's being filibustered? Don't forget who could have kept it from happening. The Democrats. Why didn't they? They didn't want to.

                    by Rick Aucoin on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:30:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Ageism is not productive (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greengemini

            but by all means, if it makes you feel more righteous, have at it.

            All progress would be made through the youth generation.

            If you are lucky  ( or unlucky, depending on the state of the world ) you may live long enough to understand. Best of luck.

            "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." ~ Harry Truman

            by ozsea1 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:57:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not ageism, it's life itself. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, wu ming, evergreen2

              Every generation has time of its own, and must learn to pass into elderhood.

              WWII and the New Deal were instituted by old men, but it was the young who filled the ranks of the CC and the Navy and Army and Marines in Europe and the Pacific. They built the greatest prosperity of world history. When their children came of age, they were curiously no longer agents of change. Such is life.

              It is in fact ageism to claim that this historical pattern has ceased. Youth today are in fact repressed politically and economically. It would be hard to argue that youth are not economically disadvantaged, with 85% of college graduates moving home with family and 16% of high school graduate workers being jobless.

              I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

              by Nulwee on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:22:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And it was always so (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elwior, joanneleon, Clues

                There's no argument about disadvantaged youth. Know that.

                IMO, be it ever so humble, the generation gap was another useful way to to divide us.

                "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." ~ Harry Truman

                by ozsea1 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:37:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Hell (0+ / 0-)

                EVERYBODY today is repressed politically and economically, unless they are part of the top 5%.

                Young people can't get started up the ladder, and older people who thought they were doing the right things have been thrown off the ladder.  

                One of the hallmarks of being a liberal should be to exercise our imaginations enough to be able to picture the lives of people who are not like us.  As an older person, I remember starting out by having to drop out of school due to lack of funds, and then working my way up into respectability.  I often think of how that must feel to a young person today, knowing that they will have the same hard road ahead of them with their chances of "making it" reduced to almost nothing.

                I hope that somewhere there are some young people also thinking about how it must feel to have scrabbled a way up into the middle class, being poised after decades to finally reap the benefits of a lifetime of labor....and have it all stolen from you when it's too late to go back and start again.

                I hope there are some young people who think about me the same way that I think about them.  But if they're not evident here at the Great Orange Liberal Watercooler, I suspect they are pretty thin on the ground.

                •  Because I pointed out that progress is always (0+ / 0-)

                  made by the young applying new perspectives to problems that haven't been fixed, you think no one cares about your plight?

                  I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

                  by Nulwee on Mon May 30, 2011 at 09:02:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No (0+ / 0-)

                    I agreed with a good bit of your statement, but this

                    When their children came of age, they were curiously no longer agents of change.

                    and this

                    Youth today are in fact repressed politically and economically

                    Seemed in the first case, not entirely correct, and in the second, unnecessarily divisive.  By that I mean that it's true, as far as it goes, but in a diary about labor and the working classes in general, separating out one group for distinction seems divisive to me.

                    Sometimes the young apply new perspectives to problems that haven't been fixed.  Sometimes they apply old perspectives thinking they have new perspectives because they aren't interested in the history of things.  In one sense, there's really nothing new under the sun.

                    •  It's separating out for distinction (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Clues

                      only if the group hasn't already been separated--and I think it has already been cleaved.

                      I notice that many recommends are given to the person who has a good answer, with hardly any given to the person who asks the right question. That is backwards to me; without that question, the good answer might never have come.

                      by Nulwee on Mon May 30, 2011 at 11:32:43 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Socialists split internally, too (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          robert cruickshank, Nulwee, elwior

          For example, the Socialist Party of America, factionalized in the 1960s and dissolved into three separate entities by the early 1970s.  The SP had long since been marginalized, so this is not as major a factor as was the purging of other political institutions.  But it is part of the problem.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:43:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Democratic socialists (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think this is an accurate assessment.
          One group of Democratic Socialists was led by Michael Harrington.  They had substantial effect until 1980 within the party. It was called Democratic Agenda.
          Now, the group Harrington founded, Democratic Socialists of America is largely outside of the party, although they still subscribe to the strategy.  They are at www.dsausa.org

          A second group that does not use democratic socialists as a name, but pushes a similar  agenda is Progressive Democrats of America.  They have been contesting races in many places.
          I agree that the Democrats shifted to a corporate agenda, but the democratic socialists did not go away.
          Also to read active labor union members discuss these questions, see www.talkingunion.wordpress.com

      •  But America will never reject capitalism (0+ / 0-)

        Socialism will never work here.

        •  Is that meant to be ironic? (5+ / 0-)

          Or do you really think that this country would never reject capitalism, and that socialism would never work in this country in a million years? Granted, I am not saying that it is certain that the American people will reject capitalism and embrace socialism; I am merely suggesting that it is a possibility, and to say that it is not a possibility is to speak too soon. As the author of the piece pointed out so eloquently, the labor unions never believed that big business would cease to have a use for them and would aim to deny them the seats at the table that they had sacrificed so much to secure. In 1859, very few people saw the end of slavery coming, and almost no one would have expected it to be a thing of the past within ten years. In 1773 most American colonists were perfectly happy to bend the knee to George III and his Parliament, and yet ten years later we had sent the last of the Redcoats packing from our shores, and had cast off the rule of England in favor of our own republic.

          The point is, we do not always see changes coming, even if a few years later we wonder how we couldn't have seen them a mile away. So while I may not expect my fellow Americans to reject capitalism, I will not dismiss the possibility of it out of hand; and I will hold some small hope that, even if they do not ultimately reject it, they will at least have the good sense to master it once more.

        •  and the new deal never happened, right? (0+ / 0-)

          you sure you're in the right party? you sure do seem fond of a hell of a lot of textbook right wing talking points.

    •  Finally hearing the history I know being told (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zedaker, elwior, aufklaerer

      Thank you, Robert.

    •  I'm late to this dairy (6+ / 0-)

      But I want to tip and rec it.

      Seeing this on the ground as a teen in the 70s and a 20 something in the age of Reagan, it's a spot on description of the cleavage between the New Left and Labor.

      We've given the neoliberals almost 40 years to make market weighted policies work. The result has been stagnating wages and a shrinking middle class.

      I'll join arms with the "hard hats."

      I listen to wingnut radio so you don't have to!

      by Sharon on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:53:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What a truly excellent diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, aufklaerer, nicolemm

      You pretty much summed up most of my life.   The hippies, and the Black Panthers, and the feminists, might have been a little too much for the Archie Bunker working class, but we were right!!!!  Maybe we could have been more polite, but shit we were right and knew it.  And with the hubris of youth, we didn't think we needed to be polite.  We just really couldn't understand why they all didn't get it.

      I do not like thee, Doctor Fell, The reason why I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

      by opinionated on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:51:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  By your thesis, then, the first true Labor leader (29+ / 0-)

    to get it right was Cesar Chavez.

    National boycotts, voting, and la huelga got the AFW to the table and set some policy.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:40:41 PM PDT

  •  I harken back to our last conversation (33+ / 0-)

    ...about this:

    If a Labor Party emerges out of the Democratic Party

    It's an idea whose time has come.

    And there is nothing more powerful in heaven or on earth than that.

    The message is busting out all over.

    •  Your thinking is similar to mine (19+ / 0-)

      I don't think setting up a third party at this point is the right strategy, given the extremism of the Republicans.  Instead I've advocated for progressives and labor forming a party-within-a-party inside the Democratic party to try to wrest control away from the pro-corporatist wing that controls it now.  

      That effort will require well-funded primary challenges, as the Teabaggers have done on the right.  It will also require a common voice in criticizing Democratic office holders who betray the goals and policies of the Labor coalition (whatever it turns out to be called).  We have to fight against the corporatists in both parties, but the tactics to do that will differ depending on whether they're wearing Red or Blue jerseys.

      Forming a third party will be a long and dangerous process, and will likely fail.  Much better to make sure that as Democrats, we speak with a loud enough voice that officeholders don't dare cross us.  The Teabaggers already know how to do this, but the difference is that our voice will lead the party to greater success, not extremism and failure.

      Capitalism conquered communism, and now it's got democracy on the ropes. (JP Barlow)

      by Dallasdoc on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:19:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's call it The Democratic Wing of the DP (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, aufklaerer, Clues, Dallasdoc, nicolemm

        The AFL-CIO has just given notice to Democratic incumbents who have been opposing labor's priorities that they may soon face strong and well funded Primary challengers.  This is not an idle threat, as Trumka recently made crystal clear.

        Who amongst incumbent Democratic office-holders want to wage a Primary battle against a well funded labor candidate on turf chosen by labor?

        The neo-liberals have been exposed, the progressives are looking for an answer, and now the AFL-CIO is giving us a vehicle.  Let's ride it as The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

        Viva Howard Dean!

        "11 dimensional chess" is a clever form of using magical thinking to obfuscate the obvious.

        by Zinman on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:35:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The US is not like Israel, which has (0+ / 0-)

      a proportional system, where even fringe parties can win a few seats in the Knesset if they get a certain percentage of the vote.

      •  but the US is gerrymandered and FPTP (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, aufklaerer, Pluto

        which makes it possible for third parties to target and win specific districts, either regionally or on ethnic grounds, rather effectively. third-party candidates that are concentrated can win, third-party candidates that pull an even 5% everywhere don't.

        •  Perhaps you could get a Green Party (0+ / 0-)

          candidate elected in places like San Francisco, Berkeley, Madison, Ann Arbor, Ithaca, Cambridge, and parts of big cities like Manhattan. You could possibly get a Green candidate elected in parts of CO, MT, and NM. But beyond that third parties have no chance of winning.

          •  a labor party would have several districts (0+ / 0-)

            where it would be competitive. so would ethnic black or latino party candidates, were they not in the democrats. likewise, a reactionary tea party type party could pick off a significant number of seats nationwide, were their funders not basically using that movement to prop up the GOP.

            first-past-the-post doesn't guarantee two parties, so much as severely disadvantage third parties with distributed votes. concentrated minor parties win seats in other similar political systems in england and canada, and they regularly did here in america before the 2nd world war.

            •  You could have third party candidates (0+ / 0-)

              winning in the darkest blue and red parts of the country. You could perhaps have a conservative third party win in dark red parts of ID, UT, and OK. You could have a dark blue liberal/progressive third party win in dark blue areas like inner-city districts that vote 90% Democratic. But beyond that third parties would not have a chance at winning.

              The US electoral system is not proportional like Israel's, where even minor fringe parties can win seats in the Knesset if they get a few percentage points of the vote. In most areas third parties would be spoilers.

              •  talking points empirical evidence (0+ / 0-)

                our voting system is the same as canada and great britain. minor parties win significant numbers of seats in both systems, and they used to do so in the prewar period.

                you can wave your hands all you want.

                •  But they won't win here any time soon (0+ / 0-)

                  The US political system is different than Canada or the UK's. I would venture to guess that ballot access laws, campaign finance laws, and other rules in their system make it possible for third party candidates to win.

                  Again, if your point was correct, the Green Party would actually win important elections. So too would the Libertarians. Neither of those parties has really won much of anything above maybe a state legislative seat or maybe a mayorship or some city.

                  When a Green or Libertarian wins a seat in Congress, then I'll believe that third parties are a force here. Otherwise they are just spoilers.

                  And yes third parties won in the late 1800s/and early 1900s, but now is a different time. And given the cost of running, plus the fact that the US is not like Israel, which as a proportional system, I don't see third parties being anything more than spoilers any time soon.

    •  I like this idea (6+ / 0-)

      I would be perfectly happy to go on being a Democratic Party man, but the Democratic Party seems to no longer want people like me, except when it is convenient for them, such as at election times for my vote or when it needs some silly sod to knock on doors and make phone calls. For my time and money, I had much rather be part of a Labor Party, or Union Party, or whatever we want to call it.

      Malcolm X was right in the 60s when he was talking about organizing black people, and he is right in our case as well today. You get things from having leverage, and leverage is achieved by the independent exercise of power. As long as the Democrats thought that they could count on black votes without having to really do anything to get them, civil rights legislation would go nowhere. On the other hand, by organizing and registering blacks to vote "not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Independents" and by "making sure that there's not a black face in Harlem on election day that hasn't been registered to vote," Malcolm X could make sure that his people got the attention that they wanted.

      It's the same with us. Most labor unions gave their unqualified support to the Democratic Party for generations. For all its faults, I think that one of the reasons that the Teamsters are still doing well is that they never gave themselves to the Democratic Party, and would occasionally express their displeasure with this or that Democrat by endorsing a Republican instead (the fact that their jobs couldn't be outsourced didn't hurt either). What has unqualified support gotten us? We have come to be taken for granted.

      Richard Trumka's turning off of the spigot, which was anticipated by the IAFF's decision to stop funding the Democratic Party at the federal level, represents the first step in the process of showing the Democratic Party that we are in fact indispensable; that we cannot, in fact, be dismissed with a wave of the hand because neoliberal theory says so. It is a gamble, to be sure, and every gamble carries a risk with it. But we have made the mistake for too long of trying to stay safe when dealing with people who desire our ultimate ruination. We are doing now what we should have been doing all along with such people: playing hard and aggressively. Labor got a few victories in during the New Deal and afterward, and forgot that it was still the underdog in these fights, despite its winning streak; and the underdog never has the luxury of playing conservatively. He must always play to win, to find a path to ultimate victory, and if he is not willing to go big, then he had better go home quickly.

      At the very least, what this should result in is the Democratic Party playing much more attention to labor, and actually following through on its promises. At best this will lead to the creation of a new party, as you have laid it out. Both would be desirable, and I would be happy with both. However, I think I cannot but wish for the latter conclusion.

  •  Good diary (23+ / 0-)

    Wisconsin gives me some hope too.  The key is that people have to stop being so passive and have to begin to fight back against corporatism.  Trumka  is good for the labor movement and I hope he follows through on his plan.

    The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

    by Mimikatz on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:21:09 PM PDT

  •  I think AFSCME Council 5 gets it (22+ / 0-)

    we worked hard to get Dayton elected gov in MN which is perhaps the biggest reason we are not oppressed as badly as Wisconsin yet. But we did  not have enough people and power to keep the GOP from taking over the state legislature :-(

    I'm currently reading Were You Born On The Wrong Continent? and am intrigued by the works councils in Germany. They still have unions, but this is a step beyond, boards of directors are actually half labor! Hope the author will have some idea how we can get those here

    -7.75, -6.05 And these wars; they can't be won Does anyone know or care how they begun?-Matt Bellamy

    by nicolemm on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:25:44 PM PDT

    •  That will never happen w/o campaign finance reform (5+ / 0-)

      on the level that dramatically reduces the political power of the rich.

      I take that back; one should never say never.  It's possible that a liberal-minded new or current corporation could adopt that model, succeed in a big way, and become a news item.  But even then, such a corporation would be something of a pariah in the business world for such an anti-elite heresy.

    •  Ironically enough (23+ / 0-)

      Having union reps on boards of directors was a key demand made by the labor movement in the late 1940s. But when the labor left was purged, and when the right began their Red Scare, that demand was seen as too radical, too "Soviet" and it was dropped in exchange for better wages and benefits.

      The 1950 UAW-Big 3 contract, sometimes called the Treaty of Detroit, is a good example. Walter Reuther wanted universal health care and UAW members on the Big 3 boards. But in the Red Scare, and with the Democrats moving right, Reuther didn't think he would win and worried he might lose a lot more than the social democratic demands. So he took better wages and benefits for his members and dropped the other demands. And ever since, the labor movement limited its goals to bargaining over wages and benefits, believing that they could never get anything more.

      While I understand why Reuther did that, I think history is now pretty clear that it was a bad move in the long-term.

      I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

      by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:00:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can do that yourself. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, nicolemm

        Google didn't exist 15 years ago.  There are places for a committed group of investors to simply establish this as company policy from day 1.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:56:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  US leftists making German capitalism humane... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nicolemm

        and super-efficient (In terms of competitiveness, Germany has been primus inter pares for the last 40 years - the winner of globalization so far)

        I regard it as one of the central ironies of the 20th century that Germany, after just having set the world on fire and being responsible for the death of 60 million people in its purchase of the turbo-capitalist dystopia that's called fascism, had the sheer luck of being reconstructed under an American rule that had learned all the right lessons from the Great Depression,

        Having union reps on boards of directors was a key demand made by the labor movement in the late 1940s.

        and that gave the Germans the most advanced, most democratic, most enlightened constitutional and institutional framework in the West - something that Roosevelt's men and women wanted to replicate in the US, but couldn't.

        (The fact that there was a communist East Germany, where everyone enjoyed free health care and free education, definitely helped. Most working people in the West never properly appreciated the influence the mere existence of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics had on their paychecks, benefits - only the threat of world revolution followed by expropriation was able to force the capitalists to regard the workers as humans)

        "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

        by aufklaerer on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:43:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Some problems are serious (15+ / 0-)

    In recent times, unions have split with peace activists and environmentalists as if they were forever enemies.

    During the Iraq war, it was a macho thing to join the flag waving and to treat anti war Democrats with some contempt.

    The first thing that happens when an environmental issue comes up that has to do with suburban development is that the developers promise the union guys jobs.  Even though, at best these are construction jobs which only last a year or two, the unions are happy to join the fight against environmentalists.  

    Those kinds of issues have a tendency to make it difficult to make progress against the Republican agenda which ought to unit us all, considering what it is really all about.  

    There has to be some kind of real discussion about this that leads to a long term strategy that everyone can agree on or the long term reality will continue to be what it has been for decades.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:28:01 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I agree (24+ / 0-)

      And it's hard to argue against construction projects that cause sprawl or aren't sustainable in other ways, because construction unemployment in some places is between 30% and 50%, and they need jobs now.

      This is where a Green New Deal, a Sustainable WPA, would really make the difference. Government should simply hire those construction workers to build trains, dense urban housing, wind turbines, solar panels, etc.

      I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

      by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:02:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The larger issue is sustainability (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, timethief, elwior, Floande

        A Green New Deal or a Sustainable WPA won't happen.  Period.
        Even if we slip into a great depression again.  

        The push for an overall shift into a Green Economy might produce something of a job generating environment.  A lot of working class people are, however, being convinced by Rush Limbaugh and others that this is somehow socialism.

        THe problem is public education in a general sense and public dialogue.  

        There will probably not be a tight coalition between environmentalists or peace activists and unions any time soon.  The main problem is that unions are motivated by money and many progressive concerns are against the interests of money.  

        How that divide can be breached, remains to be seen, but it won't be by ignoring the deeper issues.

        We live in a consumer economy in a country that has 5% of the world's population or less, and yet we consume over 25% of the world's resources.  That is what drives our economy.  

        Can we be for growth under the old model, and for a new economics based less on growth at the same time?

        Perhaps for a while.  But the contradictions have to be fully understood.  Mostly, they are ignored.

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:39:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The best way to ensure nothing happens (13+ / 0-)

          Is to tell ourselves it can never happen.

          It's not going to be easy to accomplish. But it IS possible and it IS doable.

          I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

          by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:43:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That communication needs to go both ways (11+ / 0-)
          There will probably not be a tight coalition between environmentalists or peace activists and unions any time soon.  The main problem is that unions are motivated by money and many progressive concerns are against the interests of money.  

          How that divide can be breached, remains to be seen, but it won't be by ignoring the deeper issues.

          I think it's a mistake to assume that unions and union members don't have interests beyond money.  I also think that the communications need to go in both directions, which means that the activists groups you mention also need to do their part to engage with labor.  We all need to make the effort to listen.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:00:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not for long (0+ / 0-)

          Boom employment and solid wages are not coming back in the foreseeable future. How can we continue to be a consumer-driven economy?

          I don't see lots of construction on the way, however there are a lot of repairs and upgrades needed.

          Economic sustainability might just mean businesses that make reasonable, but not extravagant profits.

          (I came to this dscussion so late, I know I'm just blowing air.)

          try habitat restoration - good for you, good for all

          by jps on Wed Jun 01, 2011 at 10:11:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Stuart's comment also answers (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        willibro, elwior, Floande, evergreen2

        your earlier diary about coalitions.

        Being a legislator in the Democratic party/coalition means a constant series of hard compromises, ones where you will inevitably betray some of your supporters. Uniting the left and labor would mean a lot of voters from  those blocks writing off quite a few of their own issues.

        In contrast, the Republicans have mapped out a platform that doesn't require those hard compromises - at least not from the people that matter to them. They can almost always vote for  each other's goals with no damage to their own ends.
        For us: there's nothing simple about a government program to ease unemployment via huge infrastructure improvement - not when the Republicans are making hay by gutting those very programs. It would be worth it, but it would be a long hard slog, and it would only be won by sacrificing many other worthy goals.

    •  Another problem is that (12+ / 0-)

      the rights and  benefits that went to all Americans brought about by unions have been eroded. The 40 hr. work week, unpaid overtime, discrimination, minimum wage, equal pay, and on and on. States have rewritten the rules, the gov. agencies in charge of enforcement are weak, the courts can't see the point of any pro worker rule.

      The unions need to start fighting for an "American workers bill of rights" or else they'll be viewed by non union workers as just another privileged class in the hierarchy above them. As weak as the unions are they still have the paths to the candidates and the party at all levels, local, state and national and hopefully the organizational skills. Unions also need to work with other unions for a common platform. Not all work situations can be organized, but if that non union worker can go to work knowing he has basic rights, benefits and protections common to all workers, backed by unions, then the unions will have all the support they need.

    •  and yet longshoremen marched with anti-war groups (11+ / 0-)

      in the port of oakland, and were shot with rubber bullets for their solidarity. some unions is not all unions, and the hard hat v. hippie binary was always more of a narrative than a black-and-white reality.

    •  My response (0+ / 0-)
      During the Iraq war, it was a macho thing to join the flag waving and to treat anti war Democrats with some contempt.

      The message that either directly states or implies that "America sucks" is a nonstarter with most of those people.

  •  The problem, (9+ / 0-)

    which is also a good thingin some ways, is that we got the Rockefeller Republicans when the Dixiecrats took over the Republican Party.  Unfortunately for us, the Rockefeller Republicans gained disproportionate power because of their money, and found it easy to be elected as Democrats as a result of their wealth and moderate cred, even though they represent a small faction of the Democratic Party, an overwhelming minority.

    They could have joined the coalition and played a role proportionate to their size- mostly sitting back and letting the bigger factions lead the way.  Instead they decided that they were the ones who should be in charge, and while they haven't completely succeeded, will not relinquish their disproportionate power.

    "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau -6.38, -4.15

    by James Allen on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:37:08 PM PDT

  •  Great analysis! (16+ / 0-)

    As one who lived through the 60's and their aftermath, I believe Cruickshank has it right on:

    Drum wants to argue that the presidential elections of 1968 and 1972 caused big splits within the Democratic coalition. I don't really think that's accurate. 1968's impact is overstated. The protests at the Chicago convention were a sign of discontent, but even many on the New Left wound up supporting Hubert H. Humphrey that fall - and had RFK lived, he would have won the nomination and would have had a better shot at unifying the New Left and the white working-class.

    And,

    Labor still has its problems - still too wedded to a top-down model - but there are now many more labor leaders who "get it," who understand the value of progressive politics and the progressive movement ...

    Finally, Drum writes as if the labor movement is terminally ill. That's absurd. Labor unions have been around in the USA for nearly 200 years. They face unprecedented repression, to be sure. But strikes and unions have been outlawed or made difficult before, including in the late 19th century. Unions survive, because the basic fact remains that the only way working people will have decent conditions and pay is if they organize for it themselves.

    The challenge is to find ways to promote union organizing in a 21st century economy.

    Labor thought it was the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. It may have been. However, strong unions, like other strong elements of both political parties, overplayed their hand in the 60's and 70's. In fact, they were not tolerant of newcomers to the trades, there was pretty rampant racism and to this day, the conservative streak in many union members is obvious.

    Let's face it. Unions, at least in their leadership and bargaining councils, have not been "progressive." On many issues, quite to the contrary, probably because union interests do not always coincide with liberal values.

    I beleive it's unions who have to learn to live with the other elements of the Democratic Party, not the other way around. That said, unions have been withering over the last couple of decades. Today, their cause, particularly in states recently dominated by Republican legislatures and governors, today must be the Democratic Party's cause. All elements of the party can benefit.

    Jesus was a Community Activist.

    by TRPChicago on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:46:48 PM PDT

    •  This is a bit of an oversimplification (15+ / 0-)

      Some unions are progressive, some are less so. (There are also differences between locals and internationals, or difference locals within an international.) To take just a few examples, SEIU and UNITE HERE have been at the forefront of advocating for immigrants, and ultimately pushed the AFL-CIO to take a progressive stance on the issue. UNITE HERE has also worked on LGBT issues on their Sleep with the Right People campaign. Then there are campaigns like U.S. Labor Against the War.  

      In addition, until the surge of interest in unions because of Wisconsin, union issues rarely got much play in many progressive circles. Certainly, very few outside of labor complained when EFCA was left behind - then again, this was a problem for other group as well.

      We all need each other, and we all need to do a better job of making the connections across progressive constituencies.

    •  We need to think about progressivism (7+ / 0-)

      as separate from the Democratic party, because as the moment there is no wing of the democratic party that embraces progressivism except for a brave few congresscritters in the house who have a snowballs chance in hell of getting any part of what we want passed.

      The democratic party is, currently, neo liberal or "pragmatic", which means damn all to those of us who think they should care about the progressives.  They think we are the left they need to purge to win elections.

      Unions are not harmed by progressives.  On the contrary, there are a lot of synergies between us.  But rank and file members who are racists have allowed that base feeling to overcome any real sensibility of what it means to be a member of a union.  

      And union leadership has been sucked into gangsterism (i.e. where is Jimmy Hoffa?)

      We, as progressives, need to make sure that rank and file members know they won't lose with us.  They won't lose jobs, they won't lose pensions, they won't lose health care, they won't lose good wages, they won't lose good benefits.

      boycott Koch = don't buy Northern TP

      by glitterscale on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:08:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the thing is (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glitterscale, willibro, elwior

        even if those goals are met,  progressives also mean racial tolerance, legalized abortion, church and state separation ... issues where some of the rank and file (and some of the leadership) are on the opposite side.

        •  True, but here is where and how we form (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          willibro, elwior, TRPChicago, greengemini

          coalitions.  They want something - good jobs, good pensions, good benefits, good companies to work for and we want something.  We want jobs for all of us, not just unions and we want good benefits and good wages for all of us and we want good companies to work for.

          For us it is a win win, and for them, even the most racist amongst them, might be led to see how much better off they would be if we joined forces.

          I see this happening in WI with the firemen and cops.  These are the folks that supported Walker and now they have buyers remorse.  Will they all of a sudden become enlightened?  Probably not.  But they do want their unions to have clout, to have leverage and to give them good working conditions.

          boycott Koch = don't buy Northern TP

          by glitterscale on Sun May 29, 2011 at 06:12:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  There are Conflicts b/w Unions and the Left (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J M F, Neuroptimalian

    Let's not kid ourselves.

    About one year ago, I recall reading a piece in the NYT about a proposed soda tax in New York of one cent per ounce.  It would have represented a huge regressive tax on the working and middle-class.  At the end of the piece, the leader of the SEIU lamented the failure to pass the tax.

    What business does the leader of a union have regretting the failure of the passage of a tax which would hurt the working and middle-class?

    Then it hit me.  The SEIU probably wanted to use some of that REGRESSIVE revenue to keep jobs that would otherwise not have been funded.

    In IL, last year, the Dems had service employees go to the state capitol and yell, "Raise my Taxes, Raise my Taxes".  As a Dem, I'm all for progressive taxes.  But these service union employees were asking for a 66% hike in the flat state income tax.

    Caramba.

    In NJ, former Governor Corzine pushed through a 14% increase in the state sales tax to come through for the service unions.  He failed to win reelection.

    If the service unions were smart, they would begin galvanizing support for a national graduated wealth tax, starting at 1% for households with net worth of 50M, to 8% annually for the Buffets and Ellisons of the US.

    One thing is clear to me.  The service unions won't make any friends asking for higher taxes on the working and middle-class.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

    by PatriciaVa on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:51:08 PM PDT

    •  Well, if you're linking to the Hamilton Project (20+ / 0-)

      In your sig line, then I think it's pretty clear where you stand, and it isn't with the rest of us.

      I do believe that unions can and should do a better job of making arguments as to why having their members be paid well helps lift wages across the economy, and is its own form of economic stimulus. They also do need to support things that provide direct benefits to non-members, such as universal health care, an increase in Social Security benefits (and a lowering of the retirement age), etc.

      In short, labor needs to - and in many ways already is - how their agenda helps everyone else. They need to resist the "us vs them" argument that the right has promoted, the notion that good benefits for union members comes at the expense of everybody else (one of the foundational right-wing arguments in America).

      Finally, a soda tax is not regressive. People can simply and easily choose to not pay it. I agree that taxing the rich comes first, but we should not be subsidizing unhealthy choices - and let's be clear, drinking soda IS a choice. If we were taxing water, then that would be a different argument entirely.

      I will haunt you. It is on like Donkey Kong. - SF Supervisor Chris Daly

      by robert cruickshank on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:08:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Soda Tax is not Regressive??? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kentucky DeanDemocrat

        Of course it is.

        If sodas and cigarettes are unhealthy choices, let's simply outlaw them.  What I find difficult to comprehend is why so many Dems would simply raise the levies on those products.  Aren't they aware that the working and middle-class, those groups that Dems purport to champion, are most negatively impacted by high excise taxes?

        Now, you say that taxing the rich comes first.  I agree.

        What prominent Dem has gone on record championing a national graduated wealth tax?

        Too extreme?  So was the national income tax at one time.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

        by PatriciaVa on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:14:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  in regard to Illinois.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, elwior

      Illinois had one of the lowest state tax rates in the US.  Surrounding states have a higher tax rate.  
      As explained in the following article, "major bond houses on Wall Street have effectively told Illinois that if it doesn't deal with its deficit, the state won't be able to borrow money at a reasonable rate in the foreseeable future. Without massive spending cuts on a magnitude that would probably be unpalatable to most Illinoisans, a tax increase was unavoidable."

      http://chicagoist.com/...

    •  what would you know of unions (0+ / 0-)

      or the left?

  •  This is a great diary (18+ / 0-)

    The history is very instructive.  

    I look forward to a Part II which details the steps forward in the Progressive - Union coalition.  The coalition seems to be finding its sea legs.  Time for a full-fledged civil union, if not marriage.

  •  That needs to be our common ground. (12+ / 0-)

    The value of people, must trump the value of corporations, and the needs of corporations.

    People are valued in two basic ways:

    1.  Their person.  Equality as beings means we don't buy into, nor tolerate moral authority type policy movements.  If we are to constrain people in their personal freedom, we must demonstrate a rational, fact based, material matter of harm or property for said policy.

    In every other way, we are completely free to be who we are, because we agree to self-govern to better enjoy our personal freedom, not be criminalized for it.

    2.  Their labor.  We all need to labor so that the machinery of society brings value to our lives, and this goes right back to enjoying personal freedom.  When we are single, hunter gatherers, we are poor, laboring to survive, and risk is costly to us.

    When we labor together, we get arts, science, strength in numbers, and our work product value multiplies so that we are wealthy.  Not always wealthy in dollars, but time.  Time to again, be who we are, raise a family, build for the future, etc...

    People are worth one hell of a lot more than the right gives them credit for, and the left and labor and independents can come together on these points.

    Must come together, or we lose.

    We lose due to Citizens United, and the massive influence Corporations have on our politics.  We lose due to the moral majority and it's strong voting blocs.

    **To the diarist:  I've been away for a while, sick, and doing a lot of labor I shouldn't.  That's been costly in terms of my dKos time.  I enjoy your work here very much.  Please continue to write.  

    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT. #opengeekorg

    by potatohead on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:01:47 PM PDT

    •  That does not take into account (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      timethief, Odysseus, elwior

      what happens when a bunch of neighbors are trying to fight a developer driven billion dollar project which will disrupt neighborhoods and the environment, and then unions get into the fight on the side of developers.  

      They are convinced it is about people.  The developers have promised jobs for a few dozen or a few hundred people for a few months.  The neighbors see the prospect of a totally changed neighborhood and local environment.  

      Those interests are all financial interests.  Developers versus local people.  

      Union people tend to focus only on what might make themselves some money, even if it is a small amount.  

      That tends to split support for the Democratic Party and this is one reason Republicans enjoy support in suburban areas.

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:45:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I did not label it inclusive. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linnaeus, elwior, nicolemm

        What I did do was advocate it be common ground.

        The matter you raise comes down to actually accounting for external costs, holistic views on things.

        Compartmentalizing costs is a very common problem, and in business it stems from the default behavior being to push cost and risk away from the enterprise.

        Where does it go?

        Onto ordinary people, of course!  When they are valued poorly, those costs can be marginalized rather easily.

        The way I see something like that is the union wants jobs, which is what unions do.  The developers want to exploit the environment for profit.  The people want to not see their costs and risks raised for no productive reason.

        The very first statement I made can lead to resolution on these kinds of things.  When we put people first, not corporations, we can't actually live by that, unless we take external costs into account.

        Dealing with external costs is a systemic thing, not limited to unions.  Look at the gulf mess!  Or look at nearly any oil based thing.  The external costs are very high, and here in the US, we don't value those well.

        Europeans do.  That's why fuel, by way of one example, costs so much there.

        That is also why rail and urban development that does not depend on everybody driving everywhere happens more often there too.

        Frankly, I would love for the discussion you and I are having to actually be a problem!!  If we've solidified our approach to labor and personal value in the form of equality, the bias that has on discussions like this is the right kind of bias, leading to more inclusive cost assessments, and perhaps a development of that kind being seen as the raw exploitation it is.

        Sometimes, the net value gain of the effort overall is good.  In that case, people will be disrupted accordingly.   But, that's not anywhere near true as often as we would be led to believe.

        In any case, the idea that we need to value people properly solidifying is a very good one, in that it would begin to beat back this "all about the corporate dollars all the time" bias we currently live under, and that's a start worthy of greater consideration, even if there are some follow on issues, or it's not inclusive enough to resolve all conflicts at the start.

        Rather than diffuse what could be a great movement beginning, I think it's far more productive to find ways to connect.

        Here's another thought along those lines.  We get that kind of developer effort, because our government is not currently serving us as intended.  Of the voting blocs in Washington right now, it really is only the Progressive Democrats that come close to putting people first.

        Nobody else is, and that is why we suffer under a regressive economic majority, composed of the GOP and way too many coin-operated Democrats.

        This confuses people, because our party isn't composed of enough "people first" Democrats to make the kinds of moves expected of them.

        If we solidify labor and "the left", along these kinds of lines, we then build support for progressive ideas, and could potentially take back the party such that it would attempt the kinds of things expected of it.

        On a macro level, that is precisely what needs to happen, because again:  Nobody else is going to do it.  We either step up and take some power, or we will continue down the neo-economic path we are on, with our only real hope being to limit the regression at any one time.

        IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT. #opengeekorg

        by potatohead on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:06:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And despite that problem, I would rather be (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linnaeus, Matt Z, elwior, nicolemm

        supporting unions than not.

        Nothing and nobody is perfect.  At a micro level, those things will happen.  

        At a macro level, systemic change possible through a more unified left and labor, could significantly impact how and why these things happen, and that's what we need to shoot for.

        IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT. #opengeekorg

        by potatohead on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:08:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What's the matter with Kansas, rinse repeat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Odysseus, elwior

    Robert, I think you hit the nail more squarely on the head with your post about coalition politics.

    Getting everyone left of center to give themselves up to one cause with someone deciding who gets to win and who gets sacrificed is always going to cause divisions.

    The way to make that less of a problem, is, like you pointed out making sure no one in the coalition has to give up ground.

    Even if it's not 100% true, the perception that Obama sold out EFCA and a number of other things (for a long time people were mad he hadn't led in with DADT) to pass PPACA is going to cause hurt fee fees.

    All I've got is an orange blog, three paragraphs, and the truth.

    by Attorney at Arms on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:51:13 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, willibro, elwior, nicolemm

    Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin

    by priceman on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:07:21 PM PDT

  •  I Didn't Know the Two Groups Were (0+ / 0-)

    dis united... unless you're referring to the Birkenstock left...

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:15:15 PM PDT

  •  Until the neoliberal consensus is broken... (6+ / 0-)

    within the Party leadership, no fundamental progressive pro-labor or pro-worker policy is possible. Kevin Drum and the diarist both make good points; however, neither faces up to the reality that money's power has to be broken before we can break through and change the leadership. This is going to be a long hard fight, starting from each neighborhood in America, for only numbers can overwhelm money's established power. Power grants nothing, the status quo has to be broken from without and changed by aggressive action. To paraphrase Ghandi. " rule by concentrated wealth is evil and noncooperation with evil is a duty," we have to start active resistance to the evil of concentrated wealth and privilege. Until we do that, until we realize we're all in this together, then act together to end this evil, nothing will change.

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:35:03 PM PDT

  •  My response (5+ / 0-)
    There were New Left activists, especially by the late '60s, who spent quite a lot of time trying to organize the white working class. They did a lot of community organizing. In some places it worked, in some places it didn't. Persistent white working-class racism was a big barrier. Some participated in union reform movements that challenged the more conservative power structure.

    Racism was part of it, but not all of it. What you forget is that the message that either implies or directly states "America sucks" is not an effective one. And while many union members at the time were liberal on economic issues, they also didn't have the same hostility to the military and law enforcement that they perceived the New Left had. They were patriotic and didn't like the tone of some of the New Left, most of whom, in their minds, came from affluent families who didn't understand their situations.

    •  Liberals have been trying to make up... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib

      ...but it doesn't seem to be working.  I certainly see less than no "hostility to the military and law enforcement" these days.  But I don't see how you can fight militarism and not risk the accusation.

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:40:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama failed the unions ? (0+ / 0-)

    No, I think Obama is very happy to do nothing for the unions.  Economically he's very conservative and probably thinks we don't need unions anymore, that they are a thing of the past.

    That's what most of those neo-liberal nitwits think.

    big badda boom : GRB 080913

    by squarewheel on Sun May 29, 2011 at 05:00:51 PM PDT

  •  This is one outstanding diary (8+ / 0-)

    And thank you very much for all the explanations...

    This helped me to understand better...

    I had read the New Left was mostly into social issues, but that never made sense because George McGovern was very concerned about poverty and working class issues.  

    Also, thanks for showing how both sides worked in CA to defeat Meg Whitman.

    Also, unions have been shit on so bad many people say a comeback is impossible especially in an international economy. I'd like to think that's not true.

    And we need a living minimuim wage as FDR wanted with Medicare For All. That would really help reverse the race to the bottom.

    We need to bring jobs back to America - we need to make stuff here again and not import everything.

    The Republican Jobs Plan: "Each American We Fire Drives Corporate Profits Higher."

    by joedemocrat on Sun May 29, 2011 at 05:04:13 PM PDT

  •  Not so sure (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    puakev, elwior

    Archie Bunker was a blue collar union man and in my real life San Diego County area the union members I know are in large Evangelical churches, watch Fox, and are culturally attached to the Republican Party. They seem to see Democrats as another side in a culture war than where they live and from what they believe in. It's strong and discordant and makes no sense yet their whole way of thinking - the whole hearts and minds thing - is that their public employee unions are work and politics, especially DC politics, is in a whole different realm.

    I'm willing...and agree that we need each other.... But as a NY'er, the whole Ca union mentality is another universe - at least Southern Ca. It's like they used a different history book or something. As for Meg Whitman, she lost these votes all by herself.

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sun May 29, 2011 at 05:38:52 PM PDT

  •  Great discussion (7+ / 0-)

    I got a lot out of this diary and the following discussion.  I lived the 60's and knew something went terribly wrong. All that hope, and idealism by so many people.  This was a good history lesson.  I am looking for the way out of the mess. I invested a great deal in Obama thinking he was it, but we are not there yet.  The ideas expressed here are informative and useful and I have a better understanding. It is a hopeful message and as a progressive and a union supporter I see it as a logical match up.  

  •  Excellent diary, Robert. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, greengemini

    CitizenX: "If the republicans were in charge GM & Chrysler would be dead and Osama bin Laden would be alive."

    by TomP on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:20:59 PM PDT

  •  What about the 180 V$. 24, the 216 V$ the 24? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princss6, elwior

    From the Statistical Abstract of The United States, 2011, table 701, “Money Income of People ... 2008” .

    There were appx. 240,000,000 men and women over 15 with Money Income.
    There were appx. 24,000,000 with Money Income over $75,000.
    There were appx. 216,00,000 with Money Income UNDER $75,000.
    There were appx. 180,000,000 with Money Income UNDER $50,000.

    The Clint-0-bummer aged crowd as been in charge for the 30 years of raygun-ism.

    Too many of the professional / managerial "backbone" of the Democratic party for the last 30 and 40 years has been voting for the Clint-0-bummer $ell out cla$$ because they live down the street from the $ell out cla$$, in the same leafy neighborhood$.

    The professional / managerial class isn't just part of the 24 million floating at the top of the heap - they're part of the top of the top divorced from the heap.  

    The professional / managerial class think because they tip their barista, and because they think the junk-mart & lowe's employees should be treated better - they think they have a clue what the nickeled and dimed existence of the baristas and junk-mart employees is about.

    The professional managerial cla$$ does NOT know what the junk-mart employee realitie$ are about, and the professional managerial cla$$ keeps supporting the Clint-0-bummer $ell out cla$$.

    THE PROBLEM is rooted in relative affluence, as much as anything. The professional / managerial class isn't just part of the 24 million floating at the top of the heap - they're part of the top of the top divorced from the heap.
    They did NOT knock heads to get where they are or to keep what they have, and they do NOT know how to politically knock heads to beat the righties.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:45:25 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for posting this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    First of all because you raise a lot of good points worth thinking about and discussing, and secondly, because I heard you on with Sam Seder the other day and could not find your previous diary here, which I really wanted to read.

    I'm not sure if the search function is still not working right or if it's me, but I'm glad I found you and can follow your diaries.

  •  "The challenge (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, chaboard, greengemini, evergreen2

    is to find ways to promote union organizing in a 21st century economy," i.e., in a globalized economy, where liquid capital flies around the world at light speed, illiquid labor suffers from the constraints of its physicality, and oil is subsidized by our tax dollars to such a degree that it's cheaper to make a spatula in China and ship it to North Carolina than it is to make it in North Carolina. That is formidable challenge, indeed.

    I have to believe that part of leveling the playing field between capital and labor is to reinstate some of the checks on the free flow of capital.

    "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin

    by psnyder on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:48:47 PM PDT

    •  There is a group for people who are non union (0+ / 0-)

      members, but who are pro-collective bargaining. I forgot the name, something like People for Labor or something. Trumpka was talking about it on the radio the other day.
      I bet if you google Trumpka you can find it. In Wisconsin there are 65,000 members, i read that as well.

  •  A few things (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbou, Floande, wu ming, nicolemm, evergreen2

    It's useful to remember that whatever may be said about the New Left, the "hardhats" that broke up that war protest on Wall Street were from a building trades union that was mobbed up to its eyeballs.  In the old days, it might have started out that labor was using the mob just like the mob was using labor, but by the 70s, I suspect, the mob was the only one doing the using.

    For his own part (and I agree with him), Ralph Nader dates the turning point, the point at which the Democratic Party betrayed not only the Left but labor unions as well, to when Tony Coehlo, as head the DCCC for the 1978 midterm elections, decided that the Democratic Party could and should raise a huge pile of money from the big corporations they had once fought against. In my estimation, Coehlo was either a knave, a fool, or both; at best he completely misunderstood and underestimated the way the corporate money would influence the party, and at worst he was a willing sellout who didn't give a damn about either the philosophy of the Left or the working class that the unions represented, but instead represented a new and pernicious philosophy of victory at any price, no matter how hollow the victory was.

    For my own part, I have thought this for years, though I have had trouble putting it into words. In many ways, I have the mindset of someone who came of age in the labor's golden age, during the New Deal, or perhaps even as late as the 50s. Economics matter far more to me than social issues ever did. However, at the same time I am not wedded to the prejudices and racism of the past, and see nothing so strange at all in an alliance between the New Left and labor unions. In fact, such a thing seems so obvious to me that even though I know the history of the issue quite well, it is still a marvel to me sometimes that it didn't happen.

    Part of the problem is that all of our best champions for this kind of thinking were murdered, died before their time, or were marginalized and isolated. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and so was Robert Kennedy barely two months later. I am convinced, though there is no way to prove it, that had RFK been the nominee, he would have completely thumped Nixon at the polls, and made a rapprochement between the New Left, minorities, labor unions, and working class whites possible; not only would he have made it possible, he would have been leading the charge. It's no coincidence that in places like Indiana, which was home to deeply entrenched racism, that RFK walked away from the primary with substantial support from both blacks and working class whites, and that he did it with a consistent message and without talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    After Kennedy died, things got worse. Walter Reuther, who was beginning to remember that his father had been a Socialist and what he had spent his youth in the 30s fighting for, died in a plane crash. Phil Burton, the legislative dynamo from California who was a friend and ally of both the Old Left labor unions and the New Left activists, lost the race for House Majority Leader in 1977 by one vote, and died young less than seven years later. The loss of each of these men was not equal, but each loss meant a narrowing of possibilities. After 1980 it was really bad. I don't think it's any accident that many people who voted for Ted Kennedy in the primaries told reporters that if he didn't win the nomination they'd be voting for Reagan. Teddy wasn't perfect by a country mile, but he at least came marginally close to standing for a reunification of the labor unions and the New Left, a rebuilding of the New Deal coalition.

    Long story short, it is high time that the Left and the labor unions got back together. When they were united, during the New Deal, they were an unstoppable force; when they were divided, as they have been since the late 60s, they have both suffered grievously. It's time to stand back to back, and start swinging.

  •  Greed has always used social issues to undermine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    public unity. Nothing divides the public like social issues (i.e. religion, sexual orientation, even race and ethnicity). IMHO, the lack of strictness within liberal ranks has always been our biggest downfall. It’s always been too easy for the forces of greed to sabotage liberal causes by needlessly introducing social issues into the political mix.
    I understand that liberty (i.e. freedom) relies on equality and there are some important social issues that must be addressed, but at the same time there should be enough strictness within liberal ranks not so sacrifice (or neglect) shared core principals at the altar of our own personal axes/preferences.

  •  I don't see it (0+ / 0-)

    You want to rewrite history. The new left was a bunch of long haired hippies who were more interested in stopping the war, civil rights and all the other stuff. Not that this is a bad thing. We needed that push from the left to help move things, but telling us that unions were pro war and pro corporation is just silly, the war part is true, but the corporate part is laughable.

    Only when all hope is lost does shit get really funny.

    by jbou on Mon May 30, 2011 at 01:42:09 AM PDT

  •  Interesting no mention of AIFLD (0+ / 0-)

    and the deliberate fostering of "anti-communist" policies in both the AFL and its international arm AIFLD.  

    AIFLD got most of their funding from transnational corporations and the CIA

    "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

    by bekosiluvu on Mon May 30, 2011 at 03:25:39 AM PDT

  •  We need to take ACTION (0+ / 0-)

    How can we take action? I read blogs, comments & watch vids, etc. about this but what are we really doing to stop this?

    •  Get involved at the local level. (0+ / 0-)

      You can get involved at any level really, but get involved politically in some way. Whatever issue you think is important, healthcare or whatever, call up your congressperson or email them. You have to personally speak up. Here in Wisconsin we are going to have to recall people who are not listening to us. We will at least have a fighting chance because thousands of people are volunteering to phone bank, do data entry, canvass, etc. etc.

      We can make a difference and we  will.

  •  Tipped, recc'd, bookmarked for community edu. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting this.

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