Later this month I will attend more graduate-level classes in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; this is a serious subject, therefore we must take this movement, and the greater movement for social and economic justice seriously. Later in August, I will formally retire from 30 years of servitude in the city of Philadelphia. It is through the labor movement, and the blood, sweat, and dedication of the men and women who came before us and built the movement up, that I am able, as others, to enjoy a comfortable retirement, so I’ll be free to follow my favorite pursuits and to practice more self-care. We must continue to make our trade unions strong and growing, we owe it to those who came before us and to those who come after us.
The vultures are coming home to roost in the Republican Party, with the election of Donald Trump as its candidate, defeating people who actually held public office. Trump’s appeal is to older white males, who hope to restore the former white male hegemony in this country, and who enjoy appeals to force and violence, like when trump supporters beat up protestors, and Trump talks about how we need to “get tough” against “those other people.”
Trump is no champion of the proletariat; he is the son and grandson of men who got rich in real estate, and claims his time in a posh military academy, catering to upper-class juvenile delinquents, qualifies as real military service, even though his father got him several deferments from the draft during Viet Nam.
Trump has touted his business experience as proof of his ability to govern-but running a private corporation is not the same as running government-two different kinds of organization with different functions. Trump as depended on what I call the “cult of the businessman”, the idea that business executives can do anything and everything. Yet each of Trump’s business ventures-Trump Airlines, Trump vodka, Trump steaks, Trump University, Trump Magazine, Trump World Magazine, the Trump chain of hotels and casinos- all were failures or led to bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy laws get him out of trouble.
Don’t cry over the upcoming demise of the Republican Party-The decline started with the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and his opposition to the Civil Rights legislation and his appeals to the white racist vote. George Wallace bolted from the Democratic Party in 1968 and had a strong white racist appeal also, and Richard Nixon sought those votes also in 1968 and in 1972.
After that, the serious media kept up the idea that the “white working class vote” was inherently racist, and that the “white working class” was susceptible to racially-coded appeals, such as Ronald Reagan talking about “welfare queens” and “crime in the streets,” hinting that progressive should give up on them. (I say “no way” to that; we must always go for the better instincts of all working-class and low-income people of all colors.)
The Democratic Party, alas, also is corrupted by corporate campaign money, thanks to such acts as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision-and don’t tell me the Court is not susceptible to politics. Officials of BOTH parties act like they must accommodate the Wall Street gangsters, the plutocracy, to attain contributions to campaign with, and so the pro-worker and pro-low-income legacies of the New Deal and Great Society-which, despite the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, DID indeed nudge low-income people of all races into the middle class-are being undermined.
The New Deal and Great Society never did challenge capitalism in this country, but instead they made capitalists realize they had to adapt to the needs of its workers and of low-income people, so that they could earn wages and attain educations so they could enter the middle class, serve in their corporations, and buy their products-thus putting the liaise-faire myth to rest, except in the minds of the disciple of Ayn Rand-who herself, as she caught lung cancer from smoking (which she called “man’s victory over fire”), applied for Social Security and Medicare, and got it.
The free-enterprise myth continued, influencing the economics of both parties, both saying “government can’t do anything for workers, low-income people, or minorities,” and so both parties cut funding for schools, water treatment, sanitation, roads, bridges, hospitals-all essential to maintaining capitalism; and the corporate, “left-liberal slanted news media” pass this idea on, no questions asked. But there is always money available for wars, like in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for military hardware that not even the Pentagon brass wants or needs (a fact the “left-slanted news media” never brings up).
Giving up on challenging the capitalist-conservative hegemony in this country is a long haul, and you have your defeats; but it’s something you must never desist from taking part in-and you eventually win. My ideal in this is the LGBT movement, which seriously started, after much under-the-radar work by brave and dedicated activists, from the Stonewall riots; and after that, it has flourished into hundreds of specialized organizations, with such various emphasis as religion, race and ethnicity, professions, legal, political, medical, etc. There have been setbacks, such as the referendum in Miami-Dade County in 1977 led by the gospel singer Anita Bryant, where gays suffered an electoral loss, and the gays were expected to just put up with discrimination. But the movement continued, and we have gays now openly serving in our military, enjoying the institution of matrimony, and holding elected office. This has been activism for the LONG haul.
Let us remember this, and move forward. Bye!