Does it matter who rules: Republicans or Democrats?


"All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America, yet he hates labor, he is a liar. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool."

- Abraham Lincoln

Does it really matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge after the November elections?

Taking a nearsighted view of the political landscape, some have concluded there is little or no difference between Republicans and Democrats.

After all, even in states like California where Democrats now control state government, the dilemma is not whether to cut social services and jobs, but how much.

But a broader view helps us see that it does make a difference.

A Republican takeover of both houses of Congress and the White House in November would mean the dramas in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan would play out with a vengeance at the national level.

Since their 2010 electoral victory, the Republican-majority legislatures and governors of those three states have been cutting deep into public services and jobs.

Yes, there is still a need to struggle in states like California where Democrats control state government. But cuts to the public sector workforce and services there pale in comparison with those of Republican-controlled state governments. (And California's situation is complicated because Democrats lack the two-thirds legislative majority required to overcome the Republican pledge to block new revenues.)

Anyone who says there's no difference between a pay cut on the job and a permanent job loss has never been unemployed or lived on the margins.

There is another critical reason why it matters who wins in November.

In Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, the Republican-controlled governments are challenging the very right and ability of working people to fight.

When Republicans move to take away the hard-earned right of public employees to collective bargaining, and decimate union density through massive layoffs, it is that much harder for workers and their unions to fight for their rights and those of the poor.

The Republicans are out to paralyze workers' capacity to fight from a position of collective power through their freely chosen unions.

And that's exactly what we can expect from Republicans if they win the White House and both houses of Congress in November.

So, what does Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have to say about unions?

Earlier this month at a campaign rally in Lansing, Mich., Romney said:

"Liberalism once taught that unions would ensure lasting prosperity for workers. Instead, they too often contributed to disappearing companies, disappearing industries and disappearing jobs."

Nice work!

Why not blame the victim and absolve you and your cronies from responsibility?

Never mind that in the 1970s the capitalist barons of high finance and industry began turning thriving Midwestern industrial centers into "rust belts."

They moved industry and good-paying union jobs wholesale from states like Michigan and Ohio into "union free" Southern states and abroad.

They accelerated the introduction of job-killing technology and management techniques in their quest for maximum corporate profit (and jacked up CEO pay in the process).

It was in the 1980s, when former Republican President Ronald Reagan loosened up financial regulations and launched the assault on unions that continues to this day, that a new breed of capitalists in the private equity business emerged, among them Mitt Romney.

Former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich bluntly describes private equity firms as "using other people's money to make big bets which, if they go wrong, can wreak havoc on the economy."

It is precisely this and other "financial innovations" that largely contributed to the 2008 Great Recession when the financial bubble that had come to dominate the U.S. economy burst.

President Obama's re-election campaign is now highlighting one of Romney's "bets" that went bad.

Under Romney's leadership, Bain Capital bought steelmaker GS Industries in 1993 and loaded it with debt while paying millions to Bain investors.

After Romney left Bain, GS Industries declined and in 2001 went into bankruptcy, laying off more than 700 workers.

"It was like a vampire came in and sucked the life out of us," said one former worker highlighted in the Obama campaign ad.

At Romney's  Michigan campaign rally, he accused President Obama of taking "his marching orders from union bosses."

Perhaps we should ask Romney when was the last time "union bosses" closed down plants and fired workers en masse, foreclosed on their homes and threw them and their families out on the street, in pursuit of maximum private profit?

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka set the record straight when he told In These Times in March, "Sometimes we have disagreed with the president on strategy, but I know one thing, he's a friend of the 99 percent."

Photo: PW Photo

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  • In "The Liberals and the Land Problem in Britain", Lenin wrote: "The people's attention must be diverted, the masses must be"engaged" with high-sounding schemes for reform, a pretence must be made of waging war on the Conservatives, sops must be promised to prevent the masses from losing faith in the Liberals, to ensure that they follow the industrial and financial capitalists like sheep following shepherds. Liberalism, that is to say, is little more than the effort of the money-bags to con the people into blindly defending capitalism."

    Posted by Non-Party Comrade, 06/04/2012 7:11pm (4 years ago)

  • I have tussled with this two-party issue for a long time. I remember hearing that the world would end when I decided to vote against McGovern. Then again with Mondale, etc. What about ripping away from Democrats, forming independent movements, like the Occupy Movement we have now, and really seeing some significant social change?

    When we read history, do we see significant movements like 8-hour day movement, the great sit downs, Minnesota, Longshoreman strikes, fostered by the "Lesser Evil" party?

    Yes, no question, there are significant differences between the two parties. But, will social change come from approval from The Dem Party? We are the masses, not the millionaires. We need the streets, grass roots community movements, and labor unions, who are not going to blunt everything through a largely bogus electoral process.

    I live in New Jersey. Corzine was on his way to laying off my wife a couple of years ago (a state worker). That would have meant NO medical benefits, a significant loss of income, and most likely losing our home. Corzine--was he a friend of my family?

    Today, fighting the fasicst Christy in NJ, what are the Dems doing in a significant manner for us? Are they demanding grass roots social movements protesting the Christy agenda? A huge Bridge & Tunnel project was killed by Christy? Besides LIP SERVICE, what did the Dems do?

    It's the fight that changes people. Not electing privileged people to public office. Careerists who want to advance their careers run for office. They cave in to capitalist budget run programs. That's not what we need.

    Posted by Hugh Breyer, 06/04/2012 3:22am (4 years ago)

  • Facts of political life in U.S.

    The Republicans use power when they have it.

    The Democrats are wimps who "administer" when in office.

    The Democrats take books to a knife fight - and labor should have learned never expect a liberal to watch your back.

    Both major parties are capitalists and could give a s**t about workers.

    The Democrats have no plan when they are elected and neither do any of the progressive 3rd parities. If handed power none of them would know what to do with it.

    The Republicans will "win" be default!

    Posted by Duckabush Writer, 06/02/2012 12:12am (4 years ago)

  • As the senior Congressman from Missouri William L. Clay Senior, proven friend of labor and civil rights, son of the working class, would say, "all we demand, is a fighting chance."
    As this excellent article by brother Juan Lopez points out, the tea-party-the Republicans-the neocons- would eviscerate our ability, our human, civil and labor right to fight, this "fighting chance", under the U. S. Constitution.
    As excellent as this article is, it does not stress the relationship between voting rights and labor rights enough. The class struggle in the U. S. now revolves around voting rights and the inextricable labor rights for and of the exploited and oppressed vs the cessation of those rights, more than it does whether Republicans or Democrats rule(the question posed in the title or this article).
    Studying the record and source of this Obama administration, no one, no creditable source, can convincingly argue that the policies of this administration have directly harmed labor rights, civil rights, or voting rights.
    In fact, much can be said to demonstrate how this administration has supported these efforts. Even now, that is why the fighting tools are being fashioned and used overall, relatively, and IN STRUGGLE WITHIN the Obama administration, in For instance, that is why the 9 May piece by colorof staff, exposes the Washington Post lie that Black and Latino voter registration is 2 million voters "in the red"(eewc).
    Color of change is now countering such lies with cyberspace AND on the ground organization " gain access to polling places".
    The Communist must be key cogs in this "polling places fight", both to protect the working class now, and in the future.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 06/01/2012 10:52am (4 years ago)

  • "A Republican takeover of both houses of Congress and the White House in November would mean the dramas in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan would play out with a vengeance at the national level."

    The author seems to say that that this would be a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it would be a good thing if the fight of the working class against an aggressive capitalism becamenational in scope.

    Also, I would disagree that Obama is a "friend of the 99 percent". The only honest appraisal is that Obama, as president and a leader of the Democratic Party has done next to nothing for the poor and working people of this country.

    Posted by W.S. Rogers, 06/01/2012 9:56am (4 years ago)

  • Well put!

    I believe working families are seeing the fog of distortions and outright lies.
    We have a lot of work ahead of us.... getting out the vote. Unfortunately many, many young unemployed and long term students (debt ridden) are feeling a pox on both your houses.
    They should take Lincoln's quote to heart and help get out the vote for their future!

    wage peace
    fight for a better world

    Posted by , 06/01/2012 12:46am (4 years ago)

  • This article contains a healthy measure of much needed perspective on the upcoming election for those, including myself, who have been disappointed with the Obama administration. One thing that the article omitted to say is that the President gets to appoint the members of the National Labor Relations Board. Do we want Mitt Romney making those choices?

    Posted by John Whiskey, 06/01/2012 12:41am (4 years ago)

  • This article hits on the nail the most important reason it is important for people on the left to defeat the Republicans in November. All the struggles we engage in depend, for their success, on the success of the labor movement. If it grows and advances, our struggles advance, and the left can grow. If it shrinks, our struggles are harmed, and the left can not grow. The struggle in Wisconsin shows what the Republican Party has in mind for the unions, namely to destroy them. For all the disappointments we have experienced with the Democrats in power, to allow the Republicans to win the November elections by default would be suicidal. And to imagine that some progressive third force can suddenly appear on the scene between now and November is delusional.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 05/31/2012 10:13pm (4 years ago)

  • You'd better take a look at Illinois where I live. The Democrat governor and legislature are no friends of working people and the poor. And neither is the Obama administration, in spite of the populist rhetoric. Encouraging voting for reform rather than replacing the capitalist system with a workers democracy does a disservice to people who need a true choice.

    Posted by John Lombardo, 05/31/2012 6:37pm (4 years ago)

  • Trumpka's statement that Obama is a friend of the 99% is BS. He is a friend of big capital just like Romney. About the best that could be said is maybe that his is a more responsible policy in that he isn't just out for his own profit and that of his friends but that he wants to keep the country as a whole running. But his loyalty isn't with the 99%, it is still with the elites. He wouldn't have his job otherwise.

    Posted by Babette, 05/31/2012 4:31pm (4 years ago)

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