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Reminder-I will hold an author’s event at the new independent bookstore, A Novel Idea on Passyunk, 1726 E. Passyunk Avenue, on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. I hope to see your face in the place. (https://anovelideaphilly.com/)
This is one year after the Janus Decision; in June 2018, the US Supreme Court, in the Janus vs AFSCME decision, decided that public-sector workers are not required to pay even partial union dues-the “agency shop” fee, whereby if a person elects not to join a union, that person still pays a partial fee, since the person is still protected under the union contract. But, even without the fees, the union HAS to protect the nonunion person, thus laying a financial burden on the union. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-issues-devastating-ruling-against-labor-unions_n_5af9ec8fe4b09a94524b2ae9)
This has been the dream and scheme of the corporate right for decades-after demonizing unions, they’ve always wanted to eliminate unions as a challenge to corporate power, to prevent corporations from oppressing workers in the pursue to a little more profit in the next quarter.
Guess what? There has been an uptick in union activism, such as the teachers strikes in such “red” states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky (are you sweating real good, Mitch McConnell?), and Colorado. Public sector union membership has been on the rise, thwarting the rightist scheme of weakening unions. (https://afscme.org/news/press-room/press-releases/2019/workers-chose-to-stick-with-their-union)
People all over the country are converging on the web with the hashtag “I’m sticking with my union.” (https://ucommblog.com/section/union/im-sticking-my-union) This harkens back to the old union song “The Union Maid,” popularized by the Industrial Workers of the world (IWW). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-0lDKsXMb8) We need that kind of militancy to fight against those who would oppress us, whether we are workers, LGBTQ+ people, women, or people of color.
Are we edging closer to civil war in this country, as many pundits are warning? The Oregon state senate has been debating a “cap and trade” bill aimed at fighting climate change; eleven republican state senators ran out of the state, to prevent a quorum in the chamber for voting on the bill. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/awol-gop-state-senators-oregon_n_5d0ec421e4b07ae90d9e32fa) Rightist paramilitary militia groups-The Three Percenters, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group-has been protecting them from the state police, whom Governor Kate Brown sent to arrest the senators. One of the senators, Brian Boquist, warned the police, “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”
(I remember the Republicans boasted of being the “law and order, tough on crime” party; but the question is, whose law and whose order? And if they commit a crime, like Nixon in Watergate, how can they get away with it? That’s a common idea, making a resurgence with trump: if you’re sufficiently wealthy, powerful and connected, you can get away with anything.)
The premise of American politics is that we can find some middle ground, some way we can work out a deal for the common good. Is that a reality anymore, if it ever was? Joe Biden, former Vice-President, thinks so. But, in finding a common ground and making a deal, how much do you give up on what you work for, and what? What does the other side want?
Biden, I’m afraid, is all too willing to give up something worthwhile to get along with the other side, even if the other side was a pair of segregationist senators- such old “Dixiecrat” senators as James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” says Biden, and “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’” Did Biden need Eastland’s approval? Senator Cory Booker (NJ), also running for the Democratic nomination, demanded that Biden apologize, but Biden refused and demanded Booker apologizes. (It’s a common bully tactic, act like you’re offended because someone complains about being offended.)
Talmadge and Eastland were notorious segregationists, adamant about preserving the South’s Jim-Crow system, raving about the “inferiority” of African-Americans and about “mongrelization.” (But if a certain race is “inferior,” why are they so scary?)
Plus there is the fundraising among wealthy donors; corporate-plutocratic campaign cash is the crack cocaine of American politics, and it will kill all of us. Biden himself appeared at a fundraiser at the home of Comcast executive David Cohen ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joe-biden-2020-campaign-lobbyist-money_n_5cc111dce4b0764d31dc8586), and has called for donations of $100,000 for people joining his financial committee. (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/04/joe-biden-calls-on-financiers-to-raise-up-to-100000-to-join-committee.html) Is it absolutely necessary to sell your soul to the plutocratic devil to get yourself elected to office? Here is another sign of the inability for a working or low-income person to have any effect in the political system.
I don’t believe that Biden, or others calling themselves “liberal,” really want to see minority, low-income, or working people in charge of society; they do want to advance their rights and well-being, but they want to remain in control-that’s how it looks. Like so-called “conservatives”, they don’t want the social-political system disrupted, so they make small accommodations to those challenging the system, even bringing some of the members of the out-groups into the system.
Moreover, I notice the tendency of SOME (not all, let’s be fair) “Liberals” trying to accommodate conservatives, asking as if they are addressing a serious concern; but their only concern is to impede and real social reform. Conservatives or others on the right act as if they are the real masters of America, and minorities, workers, and their liberal abettors are usurpers, taking control of the nation from its rightful owners-calling that “communism,” back in the Cold War day; plus, whenever someone stands up to them, and works to advance social reforms, the conservatives act as if they’re the oppressed minority, as if liberals must ask the permission of their conservative superiors.
I plan to discuss such issues at the next meeting of Philly for Change, which meets every first Wednesday-July 3-at 7:00 PM, and Tattooed Mom, 5th and South streets in Philadelphia. Political change begins and ends at the grassroots, the streets, and the neighborhoods.