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First good left-wing critique of Obama that I have seen for a while.  McCain tried to co-opt "Joe-the-plumber" as a metaphor for blue collar America.  That Joe isn't called Joe, isn't a qualified plumber, is delinquent in his taxes, didn't have plans to take over his bosses business, and would have to pay less under Obama's tax plan if he did is neither here nor there.  

Not even "Joe's" relationship to Keating of the Keating 5 is relevant.  What matters (to McCain) is that he claimed to be a plumber, and thus the opposite of the effete intellectual white collar urban middle class which McCain is trying to paint Obama as representing.  (The non real, not patriotic, anti-America that Palin is painting as the enemy of small town (white) real America).

McCain's claimed identification is of course a fraud, even more fraudulent than Joe turned out to be.  But the point is that McCain and Palin attempted it - and her very inarticulateness is evidence that she is "one of us" the blue collar working class.

Obama needs to demonstrate more cultural affinity with the (manual) middle classes that he extols.  Merely offering them a tax break won't cut it for them.  They may go with him now because the financial melt-down doesn't give them much option, but if the Dems want to match the 30 years of Reaganite domination, they are going to have to build more than a temporary tactical alliance with the blue-collar working class.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 03:35:50 PM EST
It's a good rant, but I don't think it answers the most basic question - which is why the blue collar demographic is willing to vote for people who are desperate to screw them over.

It's obvious with the fundies, but the draw from the right seems to be low taxes (a lie) and racism.

The only difference between the middle class condescension of the Dems and the pseudo-aristocratic condescension of the Reps is that the Dems believe their shtick about making everyone middle class, while the Rs are utterly cynical about it.

Making a difference doesn't just mean reaching out, but removing the dog whistle talking points.

As long as anyone can use 'Socialism' and 'Tax and Spend' as a way to end an argument, the Dems are going to have problems.

It's not like it has to be hard. Obama's recent emphasis on J.O.B.S. should start to make a difference.

Seed the meme that the GOP steals jobs while the Dems look after them, and the GOP is toast.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 03:48:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dems want to make working class blue collar workers middle class (white collar) like themselves.  The Repugs know they need servants and plumbers and mechanics to fix the car, and so they pretend to laud them because they don't want them to become like themselves, they want them to stay being servants, plumbers and mechanics.

The Dems have got to become the party of choice - yes we value you as servants, plumbers etc., if that is what you want to be - but we will also support you if you want to become something else.  But it is your choice - not our ideology, values or snobbery which determines whether you should try to be something else.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 04:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dems want to make working class blue collar workers middle class (white collar) like themselves.

It's like Jews for Jesus.  Despite the presentation that it's done out of a sense of goodwill, it's really about committing cultural genocide.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 04:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... created in the decade of Great Income Compression from 1936-45, was an overlapping income class of the better paid among the blue collar workers and the majority of white-collar workers.

That was the income class that Reagan was industriously working to hollow out through union busting and promoting illegal employment of undocumented migrants ... for the ambition of capturing all productivity gains for profit income, finally achieved under GW Bush, the political division between blue collar and white collar in the face of common economic interests was critical.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:00:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's about respect, and the problem is that there is virtually no respect among the people who are shaping the Democratic message for the idea that blue collar work is not some kind of badge of dishonor.

Its all good and well to say that you are for the working man (and there's a considerable body of evidence that suggests that Obama is an even bigger sham on this than McCain) but when you refuse to include a place for their lives and lifestyle in your plans for the future, they aren't going to vote for you.

And Obama has been seriously fucking milquetoast when it comes to addressing the possibility that the problem with the American economy isn't that working people are retards who didn't get a degree, but the victims of an economic system that fundamentally doesn't believe in shared prosperity.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 04:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ManfromMiddletown:
victims of an economic system that fundamentally doesn't believe in shared prosperity

Yes but there is also something else happening.  "The West" has given up on being competitive for manufactured goods in a globalised economy because it cannot compete with Chines wage rates.  Thus, out of economic necessity, there has been a flight (upmarket, or up the economic food chain in the value-laden jargon) from blue collar to white collar jobs - with blue collar workers seen as dead-enders who will never compete with the Chinese.

However, now, Globalisation has moved into a new phase with even white collar clerical, accountancy, administration and many other jobs being outsourced to India etc. - so that, finally, globalisation has become a middle class issue as well - which can lead to a new blue/white collar alliance.

With even capital now fleeing the USA for more profitable havens there is the basis for a broadly based, nationalist alliance against global capital.  However it has a lot of cultural/ethnic/class barriers to overcome before it can be a reality on the ground.  Perhaps that is part of the dynamic which is driving Obama forward.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 04:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... if the challenges of the formation of the coalition is taken seriously.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
The West" has given up on being competitive for manufactured goods

I think it would be more accurate to say that the West has given up on being competitive for manufactured consumer goods. For high-end industrial goods, whether machine tools, printing systems or commercial aircraft, the world still buys from the West (as seen in Germany's status year after year as the world's largest net exporting nation (as well as the largest exporter in absolute terms in some years).

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 02:44:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LEGO is either entirely or mostly produced in the West, so is playmobil.
You can wear Trigema cloths and Italian shoes, and of course a mostly local nutrition is available.

Yes, consumer electronic is not so much produced anymore in the west, but there are exceptions like AMD processors.
Especially the high quality consumer goods have often a major Western produced component.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

My experience with manufacturing has always been more investment than consumer goods, so that tends to skew my perspective.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the problem I have with these arguments from people like Sirota: This notion that Democrats have somehow denigrated the working class.  Sirota, who constantly has his panties in a twist over stupid shit, such as Obama mentioning Reagan's effectiveness on an ideological level (thus committing the sin of telling the truth and somehow revealing himself a traitor to the David Sirotas of the world), is happy to give in to Republican horseshit when it suits his goofball faux-populism.

It betrays a hopelessly misguided view of history that portrays the mythical working class -- one that Dems apparently don't win, even though they, you know, do every time -- as being treated as beneath Democrats when, in truth, this small group of working-class voters who switched sides did so because for many reasons.  Some economic, sure, but this amounts to a convenient excuse for many whites -- and let's be clear that this small group within the working class is entirely white -- not being happy about Democrats becoming the party of crazy kids and emboldened blacks and broads.

"Blowjobs, more important than job-jobs," as I've put it.

This idea that pointing out the fact that Sarah Palin isn't qualified to run the McDonald's down the road from me, let alone serve as vice president, somehow implies that I'm talking down to small-town America is nonsense, and it says a lot more about small-town America than it does about those of us who point these things out.  Wasilla is a small town in the middle of nowhere, and her contributions to it were banning books, firing people she didn't like, and turning it into the largest crystal meth supplier in the state.

This is somehow insulting to people in small towns -- how, exactly?

People in small towns are pandered to on matters of culture constantly in our idiotic discourse.  As Sirota enjoys palling around with uber-xenophobe Lou Dobbs, one of the chief architects of this garbage, I would've thought he'd get that.  We're constantly under the barrage of The HeartlandTM, that wonderful place where simple people -- they's jess folk -- live out good and decent lives with family and Main Street and Jesus and Dorothy and Toto and the theme from Cheers always playing, without the degenerates from the cities around to fuck it up.

Or something.

But it does serve to illustrate a key similarity that Sirota and others have inadvertently picked up on: That there's always another bogeyman for the Right to capitalize on.  If it isn't the blacks rising up against them with the end of slavery, then it's women bringing their emotions into the voting booth, or blacks on welfare, or Latinos stealing jobs, or kids hating the troops, or drugs and sex and Rock And Roll corrupting us all, or Democrats being too much of a bunch of pussies for whatever it is they're too much of a bunch of pussies for this week, or Democrats not grovelling sufficiently in front of the Dumb Hick demographic.

There's always another bogeyman.  Always another excuse for stupidity.  It can't be the segment of voters who are stupid, can it?  No, it's gotta be the party and its supporters.  And God help us if someone ever finally has the balls to stand up and point out that the real welfare queens in America are in places like Alaska and Iowa, not New York and "Taxachusetts" (as they oh-so-cleverly call it out there).

A not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believes Barack Obama is a Muslim who will raise their taxes, while John McCain is a Christian who will lower them.  A not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believes Jimmy Carter was a disaster while Ronald Reagan was one of the nation's greatest presidents.  A not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believed John Kerry was a traitor while George W Bush was an American hero.  A not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believes the Rapture will come in its lifetime.  A not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believes John McCain would make a better Commander-in-Chief purely because of the fact that he speaks seriously about killing brown people in faraway places without rational decision-making.

But then a not-insignificant chunk of small-town America believes we found the weapons of mass destruction.

Oh.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 09:47:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And just so they don't throw me in GITMO for saying that: God Bless America.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 09:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to put the above in a Diary to qualify for Gitmo around here.  How about it?  It must be time for your quarterly offering.  Folks around here are tired of small town Irishmen prognosticating on US elections!

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 01:24:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No we're not...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 01:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have to agree with Sven.  I'm certainly not tired of your diaries.  I think they add a very interesting perspective.  It helps to have a clean outsider's view many times in order to get a proper reading of contests.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...adding: And I can't do a diary on it.  My best and worst stuff is always done on the fly.  True, much of what I say would likely be less offensive when it failed given the chance to clean it up, but it'd water-down the good stuff too, and where's the fun in that? ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't write your diaries on the fly?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.  That's part of the reason I haven't really written a proper one lately.  I tend to think too much and change too much.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:51:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great, drew...nice to see the expanded version...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:32:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  Marek's is the better one though.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 04:46:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's never been successful Socialist or Labor Party in the US.  Very different from the European political history.  Thus there has never been that strong influence on national debate and national policy such a party gives.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 12:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should think you'd want to reconsider that statement.

The Socialist Party in the US has been an enemy of the state since European immigrants brought the ideology and union organizing principles to these shores. Casual labor  historians recognize, too, that "party" contribution to formation of the CIO -- at the time a "radical" response to AFL political and cultural hegemony, nativisim really.

Does the name John Lewis (not a card-carrier) ring a bell? It should. FDR put him on the first NLRB panel.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 09:20:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The SPUSA elected a couple of Congressmen and unsuccessfully ran Debs then Norman Thomas for President.  Their largest vote total was received prior to World War I.  Resistance to the US involvement in WW I, the Palmer Red Raids, and internal split on Bolshevik Revolution reduced them to insignificance as a party.

The CIO's history is interesting.  Their basic organizing principle, industrial unionism, was an IWW principle and the use of Sit Down Strikes was a Syndicalist tactic also touted by the IWW.  

Meany was the head of the AFL during the 50s and of the reunited AFL-CIO from mid 50s to 1979.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 10:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their largest vote total was received prior to World War I.  Resistance to the US involvement in WW I, the Palmer Red Raids, and internal split on Bolshevik Revolution reduced them to insignificance as a party.

Thank you for adding crucial historical benchmarks and qualification of party "significance" restricted to votes. But is that really an appropriate measure of the party's influence on "national policy"?

I would think the continuity of US federal law and police actions to destroy this (third) party's apparatus and political alliances across the labor movement was a significant feature of national policy.  

If not, I still must wonder about the popularity of socialism within FDR's administration and right up to the end of WWII, while Russia enjoined favored nation status. Wilkie's "One World" tour was quite the money-maker, no?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 02:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the glass three quarters empty or one quarter full?

We're getting into a discussion of perspective and I'd just as soon not Go There.

Advances were made under FDR are still with us.  Advances made under FDR have been lost.  Some of the people in the FDR administration responsible for those advances came from the Left; some of the people in the FDR administration came from the Middle, some from the Right.

I'll merely note that was 60/70 years ago and leave you with the last word, should you care to give one.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 02:53:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jose Yglesias
Ybor City was an island in the South [figuratively; actually a Tampa, FL, barrio]. When an American got mad at any Latin, he called him a Cuban nigger. This was one of the first fieeling I remember: I want to be an American. You become ashamed of the community. I was an ardent supporter of Henry Ford at the age of twelve.

The strike of 1931 revolved around readers in the factory. The workers themselves used to pay twenty-five to fifty cents a week and would hire a man to read to them during work. A cigar factory is one enormous open area, with tables at which people work. A platform would be erected, so that he'd look down at the cigar makers aas he read to them some four hours a day. He would read from newpapers and magazines and a book would be read as a serial. The choice of the book was democratically decided. Some of the readers wer marvelous natural actors. They wouldn't just read a book. They'd act out the scenes. Consequently, many cigar makers, who were illiterate, knew the novels of Zola and Dickens and Cervantes and Tolstoy. And the works of the anarchist, Kropotkin. Amon the newspapers read were The Daily Worker and the Socialist Call. The factory owners decided to put an end to this, though it didn't cost them a penny. ...

It was an extraordinarily radical strike. The cigar makers tried to march to City Hall with red flags, singing the old Italian anarchist song, "Avanti popolo," "Scarlet Banner." I thought it was Spanish because we used to sing "Avanca pueblo." You see the bonus march mad them feel the revolution was here. ...

There were attempts to organize the CIO. I remember one of my older cousins going around in a very secretive manner. You'd think he was planning the assassination of the czar. He was trying to sign people up for the CIO. The AF of L International was very conservative and always considered as an enemy. They never gave the strike any suppor. It was considered the work of agitators

Th first successful "sit-down" strike began at GM's Fisher body plant in Flint, MI, Christmas Eve 1936 and expanded to four additional sites. It lasted 44 days and was organized by the UAW-CIO. A striker like Glenora Dollinger didn't see herself among the "communists" GM claimed had commandeered its property.

Victor Reuther was there.

I get angry when I see hard-won gains given away as concessions to arrogant employers, who are ven more greedy than they were in the '30s. I am embarrassed that the labor movement which once foughtso hard to win these gains now [1995] appears to be the junior partner in a corporate world. So, hitting eighty-two, I want to get out and keep fighting.

Good thing he's dead. I don't think he'd be much impressed by middle-class demands for tax-cuts to make their benefits more "affordable."

I was with the rise of the CIO in the late '30s, when a new kind of labor leadership came into office. They came up through the ranks: textile workers, auto workers, chemical workers. They knew what it was to be in the shop, to be tied [or locked in, as at Ford] to the assembly line.

As time has passed and the trade-union movement has become bureaucratized, the leadership tend to look upon themselves as corporate executives. The spend so much of their time in paneled, air-conditioned offices that they've lost touch with the rank and file. They do not realize the degree of discontent in the ranks. ...

I may be the sole survivor of a group that went to the Soviet Union in the '30s to help build the first automobile plant there. Later, refugees from Hitler's Germany and Austria fled to Russia. Many were fleeing Mussolini in Italy. Canadian and American Finns by the thousands went to Karelia, where Walter and I helped build this first factory. The Ford Motor Company was officially participating, at the request of President Roosevelt. In the end, Stalin practically liquidated the whole international community that had sprung up there. I'm one of the few still around to tell the story.

He died June 3, 2004.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's Barry implying Joe must be lying, because no plumber could possibly make "a quarter million dollars." And you falling for it because afterall the IRS has a $1200 lien on Joe's checking account and "ninety-five percent" of small businesses (read: DBAs?*) earn less than "a quarter million dollars."

Very funny, Frank: "effete intellectual white collar urban middle class which McCain is trying to paint Obama as representing."

McCain is wasting his time trying to suck up to what passes for "hard working white Americans" as opposed to "hard working Americans" and "intellectual white collar" Dilberts.

---
* "Figure 1 and Table 1 show data from the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income ("SOI") regarding the number of tax returns filed by different forms of business organizations from 1978 to 2005 ...Throughout the period 1978 to 2005, nonfarm proprietorships made up the vast majority of businesses. The S corporation is the second most numerous business form. In 2005, S corporations constituted 11.6 percent of all business entities."

fn. 16 "The numbers reported for nofarm sole proprietorships and for farm returns are based upon the number of taxpayers who filed a business return as a sole proprietor (Schedule C to From 1040) and who filed a farm income return (Schedule F to form 1040).[Sixty-seven percent] One taxpayer may report more than one business organized as a sole proprietorship; in that circumstance, the data reported here count only one sole proprietorship."
--"Technical Explanation Of Title III (Tax Provisions) Of Division A Of H.R. 1424, The "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act Of 2008" Scheduled For Consideration By The Senate On October 1, 2008" Joint Committe on Taxation, pp6-10 (pdf)

If Barry and Michelle filed a Schedule C, (and he did; I read the pdfs of the returns released to the public.) does he count his family among the sole proprietors (self-employed, salaried employee reporting "Other Income") or a small business employer?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 10:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I always thought Obama could be a bit Po-faced -but here he is really funny - and quite cutting about poor Rudy!

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very insightful. And no need to talk about the fun "coming" to Europe - it is already here in France. The PS is so thoroughly elitists that even secondary school teachers, among midlevel white collar workers, are giving up on it...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misŤres
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:04:54 PM EST
I see the BNP doing the same thing.  When it comes to serious reversions to the "nastiness" of the events of middle of the 20th century, it's Britain and Italy that I think are the real dangers.

Germany and France are hypersensitive to these things.  The British and Italians not so much.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:29:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we still have a rump of the old 80s AntiNazi League here. And the BNP types are only popular in the sinkhole areas - no one else wants them around.

By the time the BNP were anywhere close to winning power in the UK the minority areas here would be arming themselves for civil war - which is possible, but I don't think it's likely.

We have much more of a problem with cross-party authoritarianism. NuLab is just as keen on destroying basic civil liberties as the Tories are, but so far the Lords have kicked their arses - up to a point.

It's the constant pressure for surveillance and security which is the biggest issue. If fascism comes it won't be set up by blue collar racists but by Oxbridge-educated civil servants.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:41:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have the link, but I remember the Guardian running a piece about the BNP organizing successfully on council estates because they were the only party to actually come and campaign there.


And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:43:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought that France was hypersensitive to these things. And then Sarkozy, openly courting Le Pen's voters by adopting his programme, got elected - and many PS leaders joined.

Among other things, Sarkozy is saying the French media needs more concentration - considering right now, two thirds of the press is already owned by weapons makers, that's a worrying proposal.

Sarkozy is so sensitive about things, after closing army bases in Lorraine, he proposed that the German army should set up shop in said bases...

And is there need to talk about the 28000 people that have to be deported before the year ends ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misŤres

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A fantastic piece of analysis.
Many thanks.
by t-------------- on Sun Oct 19th, 2008 at 06:48:18 PM EST
sigh, here I go again ...

There is plenty of blame to go around.  

I hold no brief for the Democratic Party.  NAFTA has been a disaster and their support for the off-shoring of blue collar jobs, that started in the mid-60s BTW.

Simultaneously, Meany and his band of merry men made it perfectly clear they were more interested in melding with Nixon, the GOP, and the Right Wing of the Democratic Party than they were with us DFH pinko commies.  

The Unions brought the working class to the GOP.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 12:43:26 AM EST
George Meany, president of the AFL, 1952-1955 (apex of Cold War), champion of skilled labor.

A more gruesome conclusion to 80 years of systematic domestication of unskilled labor than the merger in 1955 can not be found, can it?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 09:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The IWW and the United Farm Workers successfully organized unskilled labor but they didn't do it using the AFL 'handbook,' as it were.

US unionism is craft-oriented, closed shop, run in little fiefdoms, by the leadership for their nephews.  They even screw their own members: dual wage system and the recent Spin-Offs the UAW bought into.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 11:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the IWW and UFW and CIO successfully organized unskilled labor... not because they didn't use the AFL handbook, because the AFL wasn't interested in migrant ("migratory") farm, sharecroppers, and gang laborers. It was also a blatantly racist organization. Gompers recruitment campaigns to integrate membership didn't appear until Debs kicked his ass.

Vol II of Foner's History of the Labor Movement isn't titled From the Founding of the A.F.ofL. to the Emergence of American Imperialism for no reason. Here is an excerpt that foreshadows the alliance of latter-day AFL-CIO leadership, rank 'n' file culture and reactionary conservatives. Mind you, this period is Republican Reconstruction era, and the Democratic Party leadership moonlighted with the Klan.

The praise of Winn's slanderous article is not surprising. Most of the top A.F.ofL leaders were themselves masters of racial slanders. Gompers who had already used the most vicious epithets in fanning race hatred against Chinese and other Oriental workers in the early years of the A.F.ofL [barony of the railroad, 1870-1914], employed racial epithets which revealed contempt for the Negro people....

Foreigners, said Gompers and other A.F.ofL, themselves mainly foreign-born, were at best difficult to organize. But the immigrants who entered the country in the decade 1880-1890, when the immigration from southern and eastern Europe first outran the "the old immigration" from northern and western Europe, were not only foreigners but a different kind of foreigners. The A.F.ofL leaders characterized the "old" immigrans as "the sturdy, intelligent and liberty-loving races of Northern and Western Europe," and the "new" immigrants as the "servile and degraded hordes of Southern and Eastern Europe, with their crime and disease-breeding adjuncts of poverty, filth, and slavish willingness to work for almosth nothing and to live on less."

The racist attitude toward the "new" immigrants was reflected in the campaign waged by the A.F.ofL leaders to restrict or cut off entirely immigration from southern and eastern Europe. In supporting a literacy test for immigrants, Gompers declared that it "will exclude hardly any natives of Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France or Scandinavia. ...During the months that the issue [Lodge-Corliss bill] was being debated in the affiliated unions prior to their vote, the A.F.ofL leadership joined with the "Immigration Restriction League," an employer-sponsored organization, to distribute the League's literature to members of the Federation. [1955: 359-363]

Lewis emerged from this culture to carve out an industrial "base" of power, not unlike Andy Stern (SEIU) break from the AFL-CIO with service employees --unskilled, skilled, and "professional" minority demographic. Schlesinger develops an ambiguous portrait of Lewis's function in Democratic Party to deliver CIO votes --and mediate "company unions" sanctioned by the NIRA-- which belongs verso this cliché which ends Foner's Vol II.

Just as British imperialists were able to blunt the anti-imperialist sentiments of organized labor in England by corrupting the skilled workers, giving them a share in the spoils of imperialism, so American imperialists succeeded in achieving this in the United States. Out of the surplus profits derived from imperialism, monopoly campitalism int eh United States could afford to pay the highly-skilled workers a bit more above the average wage in order to reconcile them to imperialism, to develoop among this strata of the working class a subtle sense of superiority, and destroy their solidarity with their fellow-workers and  their consciousness of class.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 01:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the entire premise of this entire diary is wrong - The Dems consistently win the working class vote by large margins. What they lose is a specific subset of it - middle income blue collar whites. what you and Sirota are doing is buying into a Republican narrative that marginalizes huge swathes of America as somehow not real. The idea that the GOP won the working class is about as silly as saying that the Dems win the wealthy vote simply because they happen to do very well among non-Christian and/or non-white upper class voters with graduate degrees.
by MarekNYC on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 10:46:51 AM EST
PS The reasons why the middle income blue collar whites shifted had nothing to do with your purported denigration of manual work but rather it was race and insufficient hawkishness. It started in 1968 with a backlash against civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam war and continued with Reagans similar themes on welfare queens and standing up to the commies.
by MarekNYC on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 10:57:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you got a summary of the numbers? Seems that this isn't a difference of opinion but of fact.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 10:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the 2004 Exit Poll.  Note Kerry won with voters earning at or below $50,000 per year.  Among the working-class and the poor, he won by wide margins (K63-36B among <$15,000, K57-42B among $15-30k).

Sirota's claim is factually inaccurate.  But they allow certain groups to play the "I never left the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me" game.  "Facts are stupid things," as Reagan said.

Key distinction, of course: Race.  Obama, last I saw, was running a few points ahead of McCain among the white working class.  But his margins among Latinos and black folks -- two groups much more likely to be working-class than whites -- are enormous and probably even wider than the headline numbers at that income level.

Which is why we point out that neglecting the race dynamic makes the argument about Democrats' directon fatally flawed.  The conclusion -- "Dems need to be more populist or we're going to bitch and moan non-stop!" -- might be a good one, but the premise is simply wrong.  The shift has a lot more to do with the culture wars than with enormous changes in the Democratic platform.  The Dems have been running on basically the same platform for about 70 years, the only major changes being Truman's addition of universal health care, the Kennedy-Johnson switch on civil rights, and the party's support for Roe.

But a key goal of Sirota's perspective has always been excuse-making for backwardness, not change.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 11:15:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adding, for now, adjust everything on that exit poll by 8-9 points to get the current status of Obama, since he's running 8-9 points better than Kerry.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 11:16:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - LQD: How the GOP Won the Working Class
The root cause of this denigration is blue collar work is neo-liberal hegemony.

The Anglo disease Jerome postulates provides a plausible explanation of why economies unbalance themselves. So to my mind, the decline in the status of "blue-collar" work, which is quite likely a consequence of (and certainly parallels) the decline in and, yes, denigration of manufacturing since the 70s, might very well be down to an early manifestation of the Anglo disease, i.e. neglect of manufacturing in favor of an easy-money "service economy". (Further contributing factors include the lack of effective unions and of unified vocational education standards.)

In a country like Germany where manufacturing is still considered important, having a qualified industrial skill remains a pretty reliable gateway to a "middle-class" life; those individuals without a trained skill (not counting university-level education of course) are regarded the way HS dropouts are in the States. So in that sense a lack of education does indeed seem to be eroding the opportunities of non-college educated Americans.

This is key, because based on present evidence broad-based prosperity seems, based on present evidence, most likely to emerge out of, and be sustained by, a broad and sophisticated manufacturing economy that demands sophisticated industrial skills.

So instead of going on about blue-collar/white-collar, Sirota should be asking how to re-industrialize America.

There: I've finally put my finger on what's been bugging me.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 03:38:49 PM EST
Actually, I think Thomas Frank, in a July 2004 interview by Bill Moyers, does a better job than Sirota in explaining how the Republicans won the working class vote.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/video_popups/pop_vid_frank.html

 MOYERS: Every time a Democrat talks about wages, or inequality, the Wall Street Journal, and other organs of the right...

FRANK: Stand ready to call them class warriors.

MOYERS: Yeah. Yeah.

FRANK: That's right. But it's worse than that.

The leadership of the Democratic party decided at some point in the 1980's that continuing to fight the old fight, the old Roosevelt battle, the old, you know, what the Democrats had been identified with ever since the 1930's, of fighting for good wages, fighting for an equitable distribution of wealth, fighting for the welfare state, that this had to go. They didn't want any part of that anymore.

They were gonna move on. They were gonna become new Democrats. And they were going to sign off on the Republican agenda on the economic issues, and fight it out on the culture issues instead. And as a result, you had things like Bill Clinton signing NAFTA.

Bill Clinton agreeing to deregulation of the banking industry. Deregulation of the Telecom industry. And you can go right down the list, you know, failing to enforce anti-trust. Enacting the Republican economic agenda, even while taking a hard stand on the cultural issues, and continuing to fight on those.

MOYERS: Maybe millions of people really did believe that values were more important than retirement, or benefits, or...

FRANK: Well, I tell you, the Democrats have made that choice very easy for them, by failing to battle on those lines. And I'll give you a very specific example again, drawn from the book. That Wichita, again a city that had a Democratic congressman, and a Democratic mayor back in the '70s and the '80s, and that had a lot, still does have a lot of union members, a lot of blue collar voters, and a lot of people, who are natural Democrats; people that ought to be voting for the Democratic party.

MOYERS: On economic issues?

FRANK: On economic issues. But who also are good churchgoing people, and who think abortion is wrong, and this sort of thing. Well, when Clinton signed NAFTA, which was, you remember was a very, very important issue to the labor movement in America, and to working class people generally when Clinton signed off on NAFTA, they said, "You know, why are we voting for the Democrats? They don't give us anything. They don't agree with us on anything. They don't agree with us on the economic issues, or on the cultural issues. We might as well go to the party that agrees with us on the cultural issues."

There was no longer a distinction on the economic issues. This says essentially values matter most, because there is nothing else out there anymore. The Democrats don't want to fight on the economic issues anymore.

by NBBooks on Mon Oct 20th, 2008 at 07:13:05 PM EST
Very good description. (Are you from Middletown, Ohio, or is the "Middletown" a literary device?) Absolutely the living wage is disparaged in the Democratic Party, and that plays out on the local level here in Southwest Ohio, where the Democratic Party is run by corporate attorneys and their ilk whose identification is with their clientele or with those wealthy enough to contribute large donations, not with the actual voters. Here they acted as though raising the minimum wage a small amount were a revolutionary act, when Ohio has been behind on labor benefits and southwest Ohio has several "union avoidance campaign" attorneys for some time. And your points about the media are spot on. Television and film is full of exhorting us in the working class to dream of winning the lottery and/or being rich. There is hardly any labor radio and no labor TV or film (except John Sayles when he will do it). I got overly excited Saturday night because here in Yellow Springs, I was able to pick up a Grand Rapids station playing Democracy Now - I felt like people in Czechoslovakia must have felt listening to Radio Free Europe back in the day. Good points.
by lachatte (stormydogger at yahoo dot com) on Tue Oct 21st, 2008 at 07:21:36 AM EST

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