We liberals have had a lot of happy stories to tell since roughly November 6th.
Yay! And here’s another great one.
Yep. We’re winning big with every growing demographic group and who really cares about those old white people anyway.
It’s not just electoral stories we’re psyched about. We’ve also gotten great news about public attitudes towards gay marriage.
Shoot. We’re even winning on pot.
And we sort of pretend like we’re bored with the fiscal cliff. But come on, you’ve gotta love watching Boehner squirm. Did he seem a little teary to you yesterday? And the steady drip drip of conservatives like Tom Cole, Lindsey Graham and even freakin’ Ann Coulter admitting defeat on raising tax rates. God it’s beautiful.
But my happy haze was destroyed this week. Demographics and public opinion may have moved our way in a whole lot of areas but these are only battles. When I bother to look outside how my political team is doing, I have to conclude that we are the ones losing the war.
Inequality is at record highs. Profits may be soaring but wages haven’t budged. Corporations are paying less in taxes. Wage earners are paying more. Over 46 million Americans live in poverty. Women still earn 77 cents on the dollar of men. Black unemployment remains at 13.2%. We are becoming a rigid society of haves and have nots where the rich and powerful stay that way and everyone else just prays the safety net isn’t cut too savagely. In the fiscal cliff obsession, it feels like we’ve forgotten this.
SE said yesterday that Dems and Republicans have fetishized raising top tax rates and while it really is an important fight a fight about basic fairness, really she’s right. A tiny progressive tilt of the tax code? Don’t get me wrong, it’s gonna feel great. But it’s not going to solve our problems. If you’re looking for answers. If you’re looking for the real fight on economic justice, look to Michigan. Look to the steady and continuing decline in union membership and power.
I think I’ve shown this graph every day this week. I’d like to show it every day for the next year it’s that important.
The implication is pretty clear. When unions suffer, the middle class suffers. And that’s not even close to all. Look, I’m the granddaughter of a union sheet metal worker, operating engineer, teacher, and letter carrier. I am here talking to you on your television set because of my grandparents union jobs and the foundation they laid for my middle class upbringing. When you mess with unions it feels personal to me but the truth is, it should feel personal for every American regardless of their family history.
The America we know and love is the America we know and love because of unions. They fought for better wages, equal pay and equal rights, worker safety and even the weekend. As we speak, they are fighting for working people in the fiscal cliff negotiations. What other group, with power and money speaks for working people, for the middle class? There isn’t one and that’s exactly why Republicans and corporate interests would like to see unions dead and gone for good.
Time to be real, folks: we are not just losing the battle for public opinion on unions. We’re getting destroyed. Support for labor is near its all-time low.
State after state with the help of tons of corporate money continues to slowly undermine labor. And the right-wing message machine is in full anti-union mode. Dredging up every possible story and anecdote to sell their caricature of union workers as lazy, belligerent, thugs. I can’t tell you how many times this week I was sent this story about a few Chrysler workers getting rehired with the unions help after drinking on the job. Or this one about protesters knocking down a tent.
Where are our stories about wages raised? Injustices rectified? Working people actually having a voice in politics? Time to stop patting ourselves on the back. Time to stop gazing at happy demographic trends. Labor’s fight is our fight is the fight for basic economic fairness. On every core economic principle we care about, we’re losing. In the words of Samuel L Jackson. Democrats, wake the F*** up.