Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm, in From the News
By Leo Hindery Jr.
Chairman, U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation
Union and non-union blue-collar workers alike walked into voting booths in 1932 and pulled the lever for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Twenty-eight years later, their sons and daughters — union and non-union, organized and non-organized — pulled the lever for JFK. Yet in the 2010 elections just held, while union workers generally pulled the levers of the Democratic candidates, non-union blue-collar workers voted for Republicans — as they have done fairly regularly since 1980.
This political disconnect between union and non-union workers has now been vexing the Democratic Party and progressives for three decades. A close friend of mine in the Senate affirmed it to me the other day when he said that when he meets with workers who are not organized, they react with much more reserve than the union workers he meets — even when the two groups have so much else about their lives in common. Democrats need to look at the workers in this country through this prism.
- Many people were led astray by pundits as to voter intent in 2008, when the common distress over the economy was misinterpreted in terms of what the electorate was really saying with its votes — or, perhaps better said, not saying.
- The disappointing 2010 midterm election results and the very low voter turnout by workers affirmed what my Senator friend is concerned about, namely, that Democratic candidates often don’t understand and appreciate the differences between the views of organized and non-organized workers.
- Aligning politically the interests of workers – all workers — is one of the most important opportunities for progressive candidates heading into 2012 for one simple reason. By 2012, the economy will inevitably be seen as belonging to Obama and the Democrats, even as the nation continues to dig out from the horrible Bush-Republican ‘legacy’ — and if by then the economy still hasn’t materially improved, which I think is likely, then Democrats are going to need the strong support of most organized and non-organized workers alike in order to retain/gain seats in Congress and keep the Presidency.
My response to the Senator regarding why this split may exist is fourfold: (more…)