Tuesday, July 14, 2015

President Walker

Here comes Scott Walker to rescue Republicans from the temporary embarrassment of Donald Trump and lethargic support for Jeb Bush. Wisconsin's union busting governor is creating buzz and excitement among Republican operatives because of his record of further decimating Wisconsin's already weak labor movement.

Scott Walker
 Meanwhile one of the nation's largest teacher's unions, the American federation of teachers, has pre-emptively endorsed Hillary Clinton. This action wasn't the result of rank and file participation or demands but was decided by the executive committee. AFT president and Clinton ally Randi Weingarten may have become alarmed by the rising popularity of Clinton opponent and nominal socialist Bernie Sanders. The endorsement is free and comes with no demands, and while the TPP treaty that was largely negotiated by Clinton moves toward adoption. Clinton has ignored demands that she come out against the TPP, which hands vast new powers to corporations and will depress wages here and abroad. Mainstream middle class feminists like Weingarten and The Nation's Katha Pollitt have selfishly decided that all they want is a female president, no matter if she has a history of selling out working Americans or not and a record of supporting Neocon principles of warmongering in the senate, not to mention of supporting so called education reforms that have devalued the teaching profession and weakened teacher unions.

Americans are woefully ignorant of their history and believe their high standard of living fell from heaven -- we are God's chosen people after all -- and some think it was bestowed upon them by Democrats, which is pure hogwash. Revisions to labor laws under the Franklin Roosevelt administration that helped facilitate the modern labor movement were part of a broader phenomena; the entire Roosevelt Administration New Deal was the Democrats response to the rising power of the labor movement and of socialism in the US and to a greater extent in Europe. Roosevelt cleverly co-opted that movement's power and rescued Capitalism from itself.

Hillary Clinton, Randi Weingarten
Only around 10 percent of American workers are still unionized, and most of those are government employees. Our living standard is a holdover from the days when union density was 35 percent -- i.e., more than one in three workers were union, and that was the result of years of struggle outside the political system.

There is much to be criticized in today's labor movement. It's leaders, Democrat like Weingarten, do all they can to keep unions safely in the Democratic Party fold. Some, like Teamster's president Jimmy Hoffa Jr, even endorse Republicans. Democrats expect and are granted union support by union leaders with no strings attached. In New Mexico we have the pathetic spectacle that its Democrats get union support but won't even utter the word union in public.

If union members don't seize control of their own unions, and if Americans don't learn their history, America is well on its way to becoming the next Greece. The story there wasn't about economics -- European Union leaders and European bankers know the Neoliberal reforms being forced on Greece won't help -- they have admitted that Neoliberalism doesn't work. Neoliberalism is about disciplining the working class. It's a political, not an economic project. Elections are coming up in several EU countries where the working class has been getting restless, and Greece was made an example of what happens when the working class gets too uppity.

A treaty even more onerous than the TPP, between the US and the EU, is now being negotiated. The US government has worked nonstop to subvert governments in its hemisphere that don't adopt US Capital domination and now Neoliberal orthodoxy. The list is long, the timetable goes back more than a century. Whether Walker is the next president or Hillary Clinton won't matter. Both are cut of the same Capitalist cloth. Americans' future is in their own hands, and they will continue to sit on them, ignorant of history and amused by the fall TV schedule.


  1. Interesting. I am familiar with Wisconson's political history, Lafollette to McCarthy and Walker the despickable. I joined the Retail Clerks Union at age 16 while attending high school and carrying out groceries. Later negotiated many times with schools board as a teacher and union representative. It is a sad state of affairs now. Perhaps something worse that the Great Bush II recession will be required to even the balance again. The New Deal saved the goose that lays the golden eggs but now the goose has been stolen and a majority of American seem unaware of it....:(

  2. Thanks for the comment, tb.

    Wisconsin! As you say, LaFollette and McCarthy from the same place and now the genetic aberration of Walker. I lived there for awhile in the late 90s and it seemed like a different country sometimes. Radio stations that play only polka. The whole Harley Davidson culture, a Madison Avenue fantasy of freedom with a strict dress code and regular tuneups at the dealer. It has waysides instead of rest areas. Good pastry though - if I lived there now I'd be dead.

    I appreciate the work you put in as a union member and rep though. That work was what brought to the American working class the highest standard of living in the world at one time, and made us the envy of the world, and I've spent many hours pondering that same question -- what will it take to get people to realize that?