Democratic U.S. presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks past fellow candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders during a break at the second official 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Des Moines, Iowa, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young - RTS73P6

Why Hillary Clinton Deserved Labor’s Support

“On the Contrary”

 

Did the Sanders Campaign Represent a Missed Opportunity for the U.S. Labor Movement?: A Debate

 

As our readers know, the labor movement was divided during the Democratic Party primary season over whether to support Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.  We invited contributions from both sides to debate those differences.  Larry Cohen, past president of the Communications Workers of America argued on behalf of the Sanders option, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, together with Leo Casey, president of the Albert Shanker Institute, argued on behalf of the Clinton nomination.  They delivered their initial arguments in early September and then responded to each other.  Both authors assumed, as many readers also did, a Clinton victory.  When the election results came in, Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey asked to rewrite their essay in order to take fuller account of the outcome of the election.  Larry Cohen agreed to this arrangement.  However, he elected to leave his essay as originally written.  He has added a brief addendum that also takes account of the election results. Since Weingarten and Casey withdrew their original contribution, it no longer made sense to publish the replies each had written in response to each other.  Readers should keep in mind that the main part of Cohen’s contribution was written without knowing how the election would turn out, while the Weingarten and Casey essay was written after that outcome had been decided. 

 

From the earliest days of the Presidential campaign, it was clear that 2016 would not be a typical election year: many voters were feeling cheated out of the “American dream” and deeply angry with the political establishment. The Republican Party was captured by its most illiberal and intolerant forces. In the person of Donald Trump, we will now confront a President who has brought into the mainstream of American politics and government a toxic brew of overt racial, ethnic and religious bigotry, misogyny, authoritarianism, appeals to political violence and attacks on immigrants and unions.

[1]Trump’s election demands a full and searching examination of the causes for this defeat. It is a time for reflection and thoughtful analysis, not recrimination and finger-pointing: we need to inform what will now be a decisive struggle to defend democracy and to regain the initiative for progressive policies that empower working people. In that spirit, we offer the following thoughts on the subject.

The AFT and most of the American labor movement endorsed Hillary for President, both in the Democratic primaries and the general election, as the candidate that we believed had the best chance to win the 2016 election and enact a progressive policy agenda. Against a Republican candidate who sorely lacked the experience, judgment and temperament to be President, Hillary Clinton was the most experienced and qualified candidate of the last century, and her election as the first woman President would have been an historic advance for the cause of gender equality. She brought a lifetime of successful work on behalf of progressive causes to the campaign, and under her leadership and in partnership with Bernie Sanders and his campaign, the Democratic Party adopted the most progressive platform of its history in 2016.  Clinton had a particular knack for translating ideas and aspirations for change into government policies that make a difference.

What went wrong?

When a candidate loses the way Clinton did, by razor thin margins in a number of battleground states, one can point to a number of factors each one of which made the difference between victory and defeat. Most important were the anti-democratic features of the American political system. As we write in the week immediately following the election, the tally has Clinton winning the popular ballot by as much two million votes. It is only the archaic Electoral College that has translated that unambiguous margin into a defeat: in every other democratic polity, she would be the victor. Moreover, voter suppression laws in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin clearly made the difference in those key battleground states, tipping the Electoral College to the Republicans. And while the total Democratic vote for the House of Representatives is currently ahead of the Republican vote, gerrymandering has delivered a 40+ seat Republican majority in that Congressional body.

The 2016 election also witnessed the unprecedented interventions of the FBI and the Russian state, to the benefit of Trump. The baseless letter from FBI Director Comey, raising doubts about Clinton’s e-mails that the agency had in fact already reviewed and cleared, reversed her momentum late in the campaign. (Trump confidante and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has acknowledged the decisive impact of Comey’s letter.[2]) The emails of Clinton campaign and DNC staff hacked by intelligence agencies of the Russian state and released at critical times and in coordination with the Trump campaign through WikiLeaks also took a toll. Both developments made the Trump victory possible, and both are deeply troubling for the future of free and fair elections that are the cornerstone of every democracy.

The Clinton campaign, the DNC and those of us in the labor movement could have secured electoral victory with different decisions in a few pivotal areas. The Democratic vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could have been shored up with timely interventions and additional resources, keeping those traditionally ‘blue’ states from turning ‘red’ by the narrowest of margins. While Clinton and the Democratic platform had good policy proposals for addressing economic inequality and fostering good jobs, the campaign never put them together in a compelling message that connected with blue collar workers in ‘rust belt’ states ravaged by corporate dominated economic globalization. Too many of these workers concluded that the Democrats would not bring real change to their lives. Going forward, American labor and the Democratic Party must develop an economic program and highlight class issues that convincingly take on what have been decades of economic losses to working people in the American heartland.

Yet tragically there was more than a class dynamic at work: many white male workers viewed their economic interests through a distorting prism of race and sex. The 2016 election saw a significant backlash vote in which ‘others’ – most prominently, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, Muslims and Jews – were scapegoated for the declining economic and social status of white male workers. Trump’s strategy for breaking through the ‘blue wall’ of Democratic states was to appeal to the racial, sexual and religious fears and resentments of white voters, and he was sufficiently successful at this gambit to win a close election. His overt racism, misogyny and bigotry has done real damage to America’s struggle to overcome these evils, and left many Americans deeply fearful for their place in our society. In the dark times ahead, the American labor must hold true to our core values, continuing both the battle for the economic interests of all working people and the struggle against racial, sexual and religious oppression.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, there were those who argued that it was more important for American unions to advance a broad vision of economic justice and long term, maximalist goals than to focus on winning this election. In this view, a Trump victory was an acceptable price to be paid if it results in a future greater good. Some even contended, against all historical precedent, that a Trump victory would hasten that greater good. Unfortunately, we will now witness the damage that a Trump victory holds for the labor movement’s quest for economic justice and for the social democratic policies it advocates.

In 2016, abstentions and votes for the Greens and Libertarians were votes lost to a repudiation of Trumpism, and they made the difference in key battleground states such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We will pay a heavy price for the sectarian politics that trained its fire on the Democratic Party and liberalism, viewing the 2016 ballot as an expressive ‘protest’ vote of moral purity. Michael Harrington nailed it: labor needs a political strategy that fashions itself as the “left wing of the possible.” While our political vision must be bold and far-seeing, it cannot be divorced from what is achievable in the here and now.

Others have argued that if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee, Trump would have been defeated. In their view, the Bernie Sanders campaign was a “lost opportunity” for the American labor movement, and the great preponderance of American unions that endorsed Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination could have better promoted a labor agenda and victory in November by endorsing Sanders.

Without question, the Sanders campaign’s spotlight on economic inequality and the corrosive, anti-democratic effect of unlimited money in our political system was a valuable contribution to our national political discourse. This focus was particularly important in the campaign’s successful engagement of millennials in the political process. The integration of the Sanders message into the Democratic Party platform was important, and made the Democratic campaign better. In this regard, the Sanders campaign accomplished what was its original raison d’être.

Yet the notion that Sanders could have won the Democratic nomination and gone on to victory in the general election, if only he had been endorsed by labor, does not stand up to close scrutiny. Without relitigating the campaign, it must be noted that Hillary Clinton won far more votes and elected delegates. Throughout the primary season, the Sanders campaign demonstrated weaknesses as well as strengths: his support was strongest in states which were less diverse and more rural, and in states which employed caucuses, where intensity of sentiment carries more weight than a broad popular base. His backing in the African-American and Latino communities was weak.

While Sanders’ supporters have pointed to his favorable ratings in opinion polls as evidence that his campaign could have been victorious in November, he had never gone through the gauntlet of the right wing attack machine. Instead from the start of the 2016 campaign, unrelenting fire from those quarters was concentrated on Clinton as the likely Democratic nominee, following on decades of attacks which had taken a real toll on her popularity. (It should also be noted that many of those attacks were misogynist in character.) If Sanders had won the nomination, he would have faced an onslaught of similar assaults, as Kurt Eichenwald and Will Saletan have shown.[3] As unfair as these attacks would have been, Sanders would have been savaged over such issues as his past praise for Fidel Castro, the Cuban Communist regime and the Sandinistas, and his 1960s era publications that celebrated youth sexuality, warned of the dangers of fluoridated water and speculated on social conformity as the cause of cancer. Republicans had prepared a two-inch think ‘opposition’ dossier that included plans for using a decades old piece of fiction Sanders wrote to accuse him of being an apologist for rape. That these issues were irrelevant to the great questions of the direction of the nation would have mattered not a whit, any more than it did in the manufactured controversies over Benghazi and Clinton’s health or the overblown tempest over her emails. From the ‘swiftboating’ of John Kerry’s record as a war hero to the ‘birther’ attacks on Barack Obama’s legitimacy as the first African-American president, such attacks have become a mainstay of right wing politics. They must figure in our political calculations.

None of us have a crystal ball that can predict with certainty how Sanders would have fared in the November election, had he won the nomination. But is seems to us that a Sanders defeat on the order of the 1972 McGovern campaign was more likely than a Sanders victory. In our youth we both worked for McGovern, as part of a passionate student movement that shared much with the millennial support for Sanders. A landslide defeat on the scale of 1972 would have dissipated the progressive energy of the Sanders campaign, much as it did to the McGovern movement. Instead the Sanders campaign ended on a high note, and is now positioned to play an important role in shaping Democratic Party politics going forward.

American unions will face difficult challenges over the next four years. The stakes will be high, as American democracy itself has come under attack. It will be important to learn from our setbacks in the 2016 election as we confront Trumpism. We must articulate a powerful message which targets both economic inequality and the politics of hate and bigotry. Our program must combine the creation of well-paying jobs, access to economic advancement through a robust system of public education, a defense of democratic institutions and norms and a respect for the dignity and rights of all Americans.

Trump enters office with unprecedented high disapproval ratings and without the mandate of a popular vote victory: there is good reason to believe that a revitalized and reinvigorated progressive movement, with American labor at its core, will defeat Trumpism with the right message. We remain optimistic about the long term political prospects of American labor and a progressive policy agenda on behalf of working people.

 

Link to Larry Cohen’s original submission for On the Contrary
http://newlaborforum.cuny.edu/2016/11/23/american-labor-and-the-2016-elections-we-believe-that-we-can-win-larry-responds/

 

Notes

[1]

[2] Grace Guarnieri, “Corey Lewandowski says Donald Trump should thank FBI Director James Comey” in Salon available at http://www.salon.com/2016/11/17/corey-lewandowski-says-donald-trump-should-thank-fbi-director-james-comey/.

[3] Kurt Eichenwald, “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election” in Newsweek available at http://www.newsweek.com/myths-cost-democrats-presidential-election-521044 and Will Saletan, “Polls Say Bernie Is More Electable Than Hillary. Don’t Believe Them.” in Slate available at http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/04/polls_say_bernie_is_more_electable_than_hillary_don_t_believe_them.html

3 comments

  1. Darryl Lorenzo Wellington says:

    Will McMahon’s long rebuttal doesn’t at all address the real and final POST-ELECTION question. He writes as though he is still campaigning for Sanders. The question would be: Was the failure to support Clinton WORTH the immense LOSSES WHICH WILL BE ACCRUED UNDER THE TRUMP REGIME. And would it have been a wiser decision to continue to combat neo-liberalism under a compromised Democrat ( who was at least obliged to give lip service to working class ideals) than under an autocrat? An autocrat who may have the power to sett all out ideals back 50 years??? Not to mention the suffering that is going to mostly shouldered by poor minorities. I am frankly sick of wordy commentator who answer everything but the real question…

  2. Will McMahon says:

    Background: I am a union organizer who has been involved in a mass movement of healthcare workers for the past year and change. Prior to this, I worked briefly for the AFT and was fired when I raised members’ questions about the undemocratic nature of the Clinton endorsement to the AFT national chief of staff in a forum designed for questions on that endorsement. I come from a poor, working-class background.

    Response: First, I would like to establish who Hillary Clinton is as a person, as she is no true friend of labor. She sat on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart during a period of intense union-busting, and never once spoke out against anti-worker sentiment at a single board meeting. Those of us who have gone through unionization campaigns have seen the brutality of union-busters (in my campaigns, I have seen lies, bribes, intimidation, stalking of workers, threats of deportation, and all kinds of inhumanity). Wal-Mart is one of the chief engines of this behavior, funding union-busters and producing anti-union materials that have spread throughout the country, and Secretary Clinton was a significant player in this anti-union architecture. Even after she had long since left that Board, Alice Walton (one of the Waltons who own Wal-Mart and serve as leaders of the parasite class that sucks workers and taxpayers dry for personal profits) served as one of her closest friends and advisors, through the duration of her presidential campaign.

    The original sin of the Clintons against the labor movement, however, was even before this, and they have bragged about it in the apparent belief that it is a cute and relatable story. On their first date, in law school, Hillary and Bill crossed a picket line and made a deal with management to do the work of striking workers in exchange for exclusive access to a closed museum. At their first date, Hillary and Bill were scabs. (source: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18841/hillary_rodham_bill_clinton_and_the_1971_yale_strike) As Billy Bragg might sing, “Never Cross a Picket Line.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojPTz4VAOMA)

    When she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped attack democracy and labor rights abroad. In 2009, following the anti-democratic coup in Honduras against a President whose crime was being too progressive, Clinton legitimized the coup government and backed an election which included a ban on certain opposition, military control of the country in the lead-up, and the suspension of human rights including freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus. Even when President Zelaya returned to the country, she sought to crush him and “render the question of Zelaya moot.”

    Also in 2009, when Haiti sought to substantially raise its minimum wage in order to lift its people out of abject poverty, Hillary Clinton labored hard on behalf of multinational corporations to bring to bear deathly pressure against Haiti to instead move to a minimum wage at only half that rate.

    As the State Department’s officially released emails confirmed, Clinton signed off on and advocated for a free trade agreement with Colombia while corporations in that country slaughtered union activists and organizers with impunity and the government gladly looked the other way. Political expediency, corporate profits, and another notch in Clinton’s belt took precedence.

    All of this can be explained by Clinton’s insistence on her close personal friendship with and mentorship by Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s right hand man. Kissinger helped prop up many brutal dictatorships and overthrow popular democracy, as in Chile in 1973, when he wrote a blank check to effectively slaughter democratically-elected President Salvador Allende, a democratic socialist (perhaps the Bernie Sanders of his time). The governments of many countries that are now democracies but were once brutal, murderous dictatorships under Kissinger’s influence have called for his trial for crimes against humanity. Don’t hold your breath. Interestingly (and unsurprisingly), the Clintons and the Kissingers take personal vacations together.

    Also, as Secretary of State, Clinton spoke publicly at least 45 times in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), calling it the “gold standard” of trade deals. Fitting, it seems, with her and her husband’s championing of the NAFTA. This flew in the face of Labor’s deeply held conviction that the deal would rob working people and prioritize corporate profits over workers’ rights, national sovereignty, and any other decent gain we had made in the past century. It was only when faced with the unexpectedly strong challenge of Senator Bernie Sanders that Clinton walked back that support in the most tepid language possible, and always for different reasons depending on the crowd to which she spoke. It is not hard to imagine how, if elected, she would have made some minor tweak to the deal, declared it once again a “gold standard,” and happily forced it down our throats.

    Let’s not forget the infamous speeches to Goldman Sachs and other institutions, which Clinton constantly refused to release during the Democratic primaries, claiming she would only do so when all the Republican candidates released their paid speeches. She would only follow where the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would lead. While we have still not seen those speeches, and likely never will, we now know that they included claims by Clinton that she must have “public positions” and “private positions.” It is not hard to believe that the labor movement would be the first group to be burned by that divide.

    All of this is informed by the fact that Clinton is a member of the capital-owning class. While Bernie Sanders and his family largely subsist on wages earned by physical and intellectual labor for their livelihoods, Hillary Clinton and her family subsist on returns from passive capital investments for their livelihoods. This informs a key divide between policies good for working people (the vast majority of us) and policies good for what Sanders called the billionaire class and what I call the parasite class (the tiny political and economic elite). Principles of solidarity might dictate that we throw our weight behind the working class candidate, and against the candidate that attacked working people at home and abroad, but Ms. Weingarten and Mr. Casey seem to disagree. After all, the mentality of “F**k you, I got mine” is as old as the labor movement, as in the old A.F.L.’s participation in the repression of the I.W.W. It is important to note that, prior to the A.F.T.’s endorsement of Clinton, Randi Weingarten sat on the board of Secretary Clinton’s SuperPAC (funded by the corporate interests that honest unionists fight every day).

    Now, I will respond more specifically to the points in the article above.

    The authors claim Secretary Clinton was “the most experienced and qualified candidate of the last century.” She was a Senator for eight years and the Secretary of State for four years. Previously, she was the First Lady of the United States and the First Lady of Arkansas, unelected and unappointed without constitutional duties. As I have listed above, the quality of her governing experience can easily be derided from her repeated assaults on working people. And as for the quantity or measure of her experience, a number of candidates or potential candidates in the past century have exceeded hers. The A.F.T. endorsed Clinton in July, before we knew if Biden or Warren or Pelosi or Reid or anyone else was going to enter. Biden has 36 years in the Senate to Clinton’s 8, and 8 years as Vice President to Clinton’s 4 as Secretary of State. Pelosi has 30 years in the House, 10 years as House Minority Leader, and 4 years as Speaker of the House. Not to mention Bernie Sanders having 10 years in the Senate, 17 years in the House, and Mayor of the largest city in his state for 8 years. There were certainly more “experienced” options this cycle.

    As for mere quantity (and not quality) of experience in “the last century,” Hillary Clinton’s claim is not supreme. Her husband, Bill Clinton, was a Governor for 12 years. George H.W. Bush was in the House for 4 years, the effective ambassador to China for 1 year, Director of the CIA for 1 year, and Vice President for 8 years. Ronald Reagan was a Governor for 8 years. Gerald Ford was in the House for 25 years and Vice President for 1 year. Richard Nixon was in the House for 4 years, in the Senate for 2 years, and the Vice President for 8 years. Lyndon Johnson was in the House for 12 years, in the Senate for 12 years, and Vice President for nearly 3 years. John Kennedy was in the House for 6 years and in the Senate for 8 years. Dwight Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander and led the U.S. effort in World War II. Harry Truman was in the Senate for 10 years and briefly Vice President. And let us not forget that perhaps the kindest president for labor, Franklin Roosevelt, was one of those with not a great deal of experience (4 years as Governor of New York and some lesser offices). But the lesson here should be that counting the years is a small measure of worthwhile experience. It is a weighing of the actions within that experience. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton inspire little confidence, despite however many years of “experience.” I have also heard the claim (from none less than Barack Obama) that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate ever in our history. This ridiculously ignores George Washington (Commander in Chief of our War for Independence), John Adams (delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, Ambassador to various nations for 10 years, Vice President for 8 years), Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of Virginia for 2 years, Ambassador to France for 4.5 years, Secretary of State for nearly 4 years, Vice President for 4 years), and James Madison (literal author of the United States Constitution, in the House for 8 years, Secretary of State for 8 years). Of course, many of these owned other human beings as slaves, so take that as you will for the worth of “experience.”

    Weingarten and Casey bring up claims that Labor could have turned the tide for Sanders, then raise Clinton’s numerical win in the primary election as a response. This is no answer, as it does not address the possibility of a different result had Labor thrown its weight behind Sanders from the beginning. In Iowa, the margin of Clinton’s victory was 0.25%. If Labor does not have the faith that its full might could influence an election to the order of one quarter of one percentage point, then what is it doing involving itself in electoral politics? And surely, the authors’ assessment that Labor’s misguided priorities in the general election (I know of Working America organizers who were moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in a bizarre display of hubris) had some role in the loss proves the lie to that argument. And should Sanders have won Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada (with the help of that state’s powerful Culinary Union), the narrative of the campaign following the first three contests would have been radically different and focused on an ascendant Sanders campaign and a broken, failed Clinton campaign. Everything following would have been radically changed. No amount of “Super Delegates” could have hoped to sway the result in the face of a popular vote, lest they lose their party’s voters and fade into common obscurity with the old Whig Party.

    Further, the authors’ reliance on the final primary total fails to recognize the choices made on the structure of that primary. They seek to dismiss Senator Sanders by characterizing his wins as being in places with lower diversity (speaking of racial diversity and ignoring economic diversity). They do not recognize his advantage with independent voters and the ties between his loss and the banning of independent voters from the polls of many key states in the pocket of the DNC establishment. Should independent voters (those voters who decide the general election) have been allowed in the primaries of every state, we might have expected a win by Bernie Sanders. While I helped start the citizen-run campaigns for Bernie Sanders in Indiana and Oregon, I was a New York voter by the time of the primaries. While I was allowed to vote as a new registrant (I held my nose to register as a Democrat, being an Independent at heart), many millions of my fellows were blocked from changing their party from Working Families or Green or No Party Affiliation (“Independent”) in time for the vote by a ridiculous rule that you had to be aligned by October for a vote in April. After all, independents decide the general election. Who cares what they think?

    The authors attribute the constant lead in polls against any and all Republican candidates (before and after the primary) by Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton as a result of decades of attacks against Clinton and a lack of such attacks against Sanders. This may, in part, be true, but how insane is it to say “This one candidate is hated by most of the country due to decades of attacks, and this other candidate has not suffered such decades of attacks and could at most only suffer a couple months of attacks, so let us choose the irreparably scarred candidate over the fresh one”? It is born of the idea that it was “her turn,” and not by competent political calculation. And as for the contention that Sanders would be attacked as a socialist, let us not forget that (a very capitalist) Barack Obama has been repeatedly attacked as a socialist, a communist, and a fascist, to no effective electoral end. Any repetition of those attacks against Sanders would have invoked the story of the boy who cried wolf. There was no ammo left that had not been fully deployed against Obama to no end.

    And while Sanders might have lost Florida to his comments in favor of certain Latin American socialist movements, he clearly outperformed Clinton in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and rural counties in Pennsylvania. This was due to his working class message, and that message could have turned the tide in a presidential election. This is not to mention the many other states in which Sanders outperformed Clinton, but only to note the few in the industrial Midwest which could have, themselves, turned the tide.

    I agree completely with the authors’ condemnation of the Electoral College. Regardless of party or affiliation, the candidate with the most votes ought to win. Our political structure is flawed, and too much power is concentrated in too few individuals, but we must be united in demanding that democracy rule over all.

    However, I disagree with the authors’ contention that some exceptional racism befell this election. In the key states which decided this election, Donald Trump did not get substantially more votes than Mitt Romney or John McCain. Hillary Clinton, a white woman, simply won far fewer votes than Barack Obama, a black man. Donald Trump was not exceptional, Hillary Clinton was simply deficient.

    I find it funny that Ms. Weingarten would resort to a comparison between Bernie Sanders and George McGovern, as that was the exact comparison offered to me by her chief of staff when I raised a question from our members, shortly before I was summarily fired. Accompanying it is no recognition that 2016 might have a different dynamic from 1972, nor any deeper analysis than a desperate desire to write off a genuinely working class candidate to avoid uncomfortable questions.

    The authors’ blaming of third party votes is similarly ridiculous. They tally them all together and then claim that, had those votes all gone to Secretary Clinton, they could have swung the election. One might as well say that had X% of Mr. Trump’s vote gone to Secretary Clinton, she would have won. Gary Johnson received far more votes than Jill Stein, and he is far closer to the Republican line (being a former Republican governor) than the Democratic. Had it been a forced two-choice election without third party candidates, it is very possible that Trump would have received a higher percentage, not a lower one.

    All of this rationalization and all of this justification is a desperate attempt to elude responsibility for what was a poorly calculated political move on behalf of the political careers of a certain few union leaders, while ignoring the well-being of the vast majority of union members. Might Ms. Weingarten have been Clinton’s Secretary of Education? It hardly matters now.

    Let us not forget that Ms. Weingarten was a lawyer contracted by a union who entertained a brief teaching career to simply take control of that union as a “member” as quickly as she could. Her experiences are completely divorced from those of regular, working members of the A.F.T. or the rest of the labor movement.

    As to the final paragraph of the authors’ article, anyone who is optimistic in the face of an assuredly hostile Trump presidency, Trump congress, and Trump Labor Board is either a fool or mouthing empty platitudes in an attempt to paint themselves as a fearless leader in a cruel situation of their own making. The Republicans wish to deal us a swift death, and the Democrats wish to either deal us a slow death or simply transform us into an impotent fundraising arm of their party. Let us not forget that all our rights under the law came not due to the innate kindness of FDR and his Democrats, but due to the innate threat of Labor’s radical organizing during the Depression. The NLRA is not our grand victory, but a peace offering thrust upon us to keep us from a workers’ revolution. We will defend it, but woe unto the capital-owning class that destroys it without understand that it is there to satisfy us, not to gratify us.

    Randi Weingarten and “labor” “leaders” like her are a disgrace. I have seen this at the national level with selfish endorsements and at the local level where grievances went unaddressed for years at a time. Our future lies in organizing with a rank-and-file philosophy. The unions which have adopted this philosophy are winning hard-fought gains. The so-called “unions” which see members only as “dues units” are shrinking and dying.

    “The ‘labour fakir’ full of guile,
    Base doctrine ever preaches,
    And whilst he bleeds the rank and file
    Tame moderation teaches.
    Yet, in despite, we’ll see the day
    When, with sword in its girth,
    Labour shall march in war array
    To realize its own, the earth.”
    -James Connolly, “We Only Want the Earth”

  3. Claire Scesney Lundahl says:

    I think that both Bernie Sander and Hillary Clinton are admirational candidates. I am shocked at how everyone was so focused on Hillary’s emails, but republicans seem less anxious about of Trump’s conflict of interest with his businesses around the world and the lack of a real blind trust now that he is President. Republicans were also dismissive of the questionable association Donald Trump and his associates have with Valdimir Putin.

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