Editor: Are the Dems ready to fracture down the middle if attacked on the fault line between labor and environmentalists? New contributor Bob McBride thinks so. His message to union members suffering in the paycheck and cost of living from enviros' policies boils down to a cheeky bumper sticker: "Green Can Be Mean." Maybe McBride is onto something. See what you think. Bob McBride writes:
It has been correctly determined that the Democrat Party is a coalition…some say of nitwits and misfits, but an effective coalition nevertheless. For years this coalition approach worked well, the various segments could support each other’s single- focus interest because there was no conflict by and between them. “You vote for my constituent’s interests and I’ll vote for yours” was the way to play along, get along and stay along.
The two primary groups that give substance and strength to the Democrat coalition are organized labor and organized environmentalists. Labor unions not only have and offer money, the mother’s milk of politics, but also provide direct votes and actions influencing other voter activity. The teachers' union for example, is in an excellent position to influence parents' voting activity, by making available yard signs and other literature for school children to take home to their parents. There is no stated penalty for not supporting the teachers’ union election objectives, but there are anecdotal instances of suggestion.
The environmental segment has been incredibly successful in globally positioning itself above mere mortal standards and has cloaked itself in a holier-than-thou attitude toward clean air and clean water. The fact that their current interests and intrusions go far beyond these basics, and negatively impact many areas of economic importance and individual rights, is never given the attention it deserves. The media, either through ideological sympathy or fear of reprisal, never negatively present environmental causes when it is deserved.
What could be worse for a business or an individual than to be branded, constantly and contemptuously, as anti-environment with the emphasis on clean air, water and children? One could spend a lifetime and a fortune trying to disprove the slur.
Both organized labor and environmental organizations are critical to Democrat election victories, for the both are suppliers of funds and feet on the ground. If the Republicans develop a strategy to break the back- scratching relationship between the two, and cause a defection of either from the Democrat party, the result will be electoral victories for decades. The opportunity to do so exists.
Let’s dispense with the myth that organized labor is still run by a bunch of people on or from the factory floor, as in its inception. Organized labor is big business and it’s run as a business by MBA’s. Running a business requires tough decisions and Labor has made such a decision in its strategy for growth.
A union can grow revenue in either, or both, of two ways; raise the dues or increase the membership. Needless to say raising the dues is not looked upon favorably by the union’s customer base, the rank and file. In the past increasing membership in major union- target industries were fairly easy, using restrictive work rules as the instrument. However globalization and world outsourcing has made that much more difficult. Therefore the focus now is on the growth opportunities by organizing employees in new and different industries, and as we have seen, particularly with government workers. As a result Big Labor is spending millions in support of Democrats with the objective of getting legislation that makes organizing much easier and simpler, with little interest in the existing union member’s needs, as we shall see.
The chosen instrument at the moment is the Employee Free Choice Act which is not only a noxious euphemism but action contrary to the core principles of the labor movement… private elections and secret ballots with federal board oversight. The unions want to change the historic rules so that organizers need only 50% of employees to get it done, with individual workers forced to declare in the open. This is known as card check. The opportunity for coercion and intimidation is obvious. This change is so onerous to any right-thinking person that even George McGovern, a noted union supporter and staunch Democrat, railed against this subversive objective in an article for the Wall Street Journal.
The real point is Big Labor has abandoned the long-time union members and the industries in which they work. Where is Big Labor’s wrath at the environmental zealots and their political handmaids that have caused so much hardship and misery with the workers in the heavily unionized airline, automotive, and trucking industries? Why isn’t big labor exercising their leverage with the Democrats to get them to stop inhibiting oil drilling? Where are their efforts to stop the idiotic use of food as fuel, thereby driving the cost of living up for all workers?
Labor has chosen to ignore the past and chase the promise of the future. To labor leadership it is more important to keep the coalition in place, to ensure a Democrat victory and then pressure the winners for favorable organizing legislation, than it is to speak up on their member’s behalf and demand the Democrat Congress pass legislation for tapping our country’s energy assets. As mentioned above, in major industries hundreds of thousand of union members are out of work due to the price of oil and their unions are doing nothing about it.
Union thinking seems to be that the current unionized industries are probably not going to grow, so disregard them and use their organized members as the cash cow to fund the pursuit of greener pastures by the union leadership. So much for how sincerely the unions and the Democrats care about the worker. And that presents the opportunity for the Republicans. Here are the steps I would recommend.
The objective is to cause a fracture in the coalition within the Democrat party with a focus on the conflicting goals and objectives between labor and the radical environmental obstructionists. For the first time this conflict is real and very important .It must be made dramatically important to union rank and file.
First develop an advertising campaign that highlights the fact that union member dues- funds are being spent by the big shots at labor to buy prestige and votes from Democrat lawmakers and the presidential candidate, as well as to party at the recent convention. This ad should talk in real terms about union expenditures on behalf of Democrats and the fact that it is the Democrats that are holding up legislation on domestic and offshore drilling. It should also present the real number of people out of jobs by industry that is the result of the price of oil and its refined products. These ads should feature real people in real hurt. Pristine tundras don’t put reasonably priced food on the table or create paycheck jobs. It is the environmental extremists and their stranglehold on the Democrat party that is causing this misery and strife
In battleground states and particularly hard hit areas use as much local focus and facts as possible. The bumper sticker is “Green can be mean”. Ask the question of the union member: why should your dues be used to keep the party in power that has caused your job loss? Is that what a union that looks out for its membership does, or is the union leadership far more interested in feathering a future nest and cozying up to powerful politicians?
Too late now for this next little gambit --but what fun it would have been to look at the number of United and Frontier airline employees either out of work or soon to be out of work in Denver, and try and mount a picket line of union members at the DNC the final week of August, calling attention to their plight at the hands of Democrats. That could have been a show stopper.
We missed that one, but all sorts of other opportunities to dramatize the contradiction and drive the wedge will come along. The larger point is simply this: We need an incessant drumbeat that pits “enviros” against organized union workers. This should cause the permanent fracture of the coalition. It will be interesting to see which side the party hacks cling to. Will the Democrats choose labor or enviros? Create the atmosphere that they can’t have both.