« The Collapse of Tax Cut Politics | Main | The Future Belongs to US »

November 11, 2006

Pro-Labor "Conservative Democrats"

One more nail in the narrative that the victory of a few moderate Democrats means this election is really a triumph of conservative ideology; in talking about labor's agenda at Capitol Hill, the New York Times notes:

Representative Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat who is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats, said he strongly supported a higher minimum wage and the Employee Free Choice Act, the bill that would make it easier to unionize workers.
Let me emphasize how significant this is that the most conservative faction of the Democrats supports labor reform. In the past, there was always a significant faction of Democrats opposing labor law reform. The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which gutted labor rights in this country, was passed over Truman's veto because a majority of Democrats in the Senate voted for it.

The fact that there is NO signficiant anti-labor faction left in the Democratic party is massive change in American politics. Yes, there will be differences within the party over some substantive labor issues. Some Democrats are still wedded to an ideological free trade agenda, but the fact that all agree on the need to protect and expand the basic right of workers to form unions is major sea change.

And as for trade, check out this report by Public Citizen of the massive expansion of the fair trade caucus in Congress. By Public Citizen's count, their was a net gain of seven fair trade votes in the Senate and a net of twenty-seven fair trade votes in the House-- a rather radical sea change in trade politics since this is larger than the margin of victory for CAFTA.

This turn of Democrats in a more pro-labor and fair trade direction is hardly suprising given the role of union voters in this victory on Tuesday. Not only did union members support Democrats by a 74%-26% margin, but through institutions like Working America, the union movement mobilized non-union voters around the bread-and-butter issues of concern to working Americans of all kinds.

If the mainstream media wants to call these voters and the candidates they elected "conservative", well viva the "conservative" victory of Turesday. But just between progressives, this was a massive victory for working families and the labor movement as well.

Posted by Nathan at November 11, 2006 06:20 AM