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January 24, 2005

Bowers Rants on Anti-Labor Liberals

Chris Bowers over at MyDD.com goes on a rant against liberals, who think it's okay to support a pro-choice politician who is anti-labor, but would never support a pro-labor politician who was weak on abortion rights (as may be the case in the Pennsylvania Senate race in 2006). As Bowers writes:

Here is an ugly truth about the netroots: we are the not so rich version of the DLC that we claim to hate. Our lack of interest and knowledge about labor is stunning. The importance of these issues among the netroots is revealing. Pop quiz--can anyone even tell me what private sector card check means, much less what it would mean to this country? The last time I used that term in a blog article, it elicited only questions, no affirmations.
Hopefully, most folks who read this blog know what "card check" means in the context of union rights, but the point Bowers makes is accurate across the blogosphere and most liberals.

However, I actually think he's wrong about the Democratic Party overall, that it's "sold unions down the river for middle-class liberalism." There are actually fewer anti-labor politicians in the party than there were a few decades ago. Democrats voted overwhelmingly in recent trade votes against "fast track" authority for both Clinton and Bush and have lined up strongly behind labor rights bills. They resisted union-busting in the 2002 Homeland Security bills to the point that Senators like Max Cleland were attacked as Osama-loving traitors for refusing to screw labor in those voters. Sure, Democratic leaders could push labor issues harder but they face unyielding filibusters by the GOP. No issue is more partisan these days than a vote on core labor issues.

No, in this case, Bowers first impulse is right. The problem here is not with the Democratic leadership but with its non-labor base of voters, who don't understand the issues and thus don't campaign hard to educate their fellow voters. The ongoing union-busting in the airline industry has gone barely unmentioned by most liberal blogs and one outrage after another comes down from the National Labor Relations Board without comment. If similar decisions were happening on abortion or race, it wouldn't be blogged from the far ends of liberal opinion outlets, but most liberals just don't give a damn.

No, the political leaders (who need labor help at elections) are actually ahead of much of the base on core labor issues. It's the liberal opinion leaders, not the elected ones, who need to clean up their act and take labor issues more seriously on a day-to-day basis.

Posted by Nathan at January 24, 2005 08:21 AM