New Jersey Governor targets workers and unions in RNC talk

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in his keynote address at the Republican National Convention Aug. 28, offered no solutions to the economic crisis and instead bashed both workers and their unions.

Teachers and public sector workers were singled out for special attacks.

Speaking of the Democrats, Christie said: “They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children. They believe in teachers’ unions. We believe in teachers.”

“Christie evidently believes teachers should be seen and not heard – they may be important, but not their views on what they need to help kids,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, after the speech.

“Anti-union statements like Christie’s will only work to energize working families and union members to get out and vote this November for candidates who support improving the economy for all, not just the 1 percent.” Said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

After the Christie speech Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, defended the role of unions in the country.

Noting that Christie had spoken extensively about the Greatest Generation, Warren said, “Lets talk about what really made the Greatest Generation so great.”

By way of background, Warren said that, coming out of the Great Depression, America was at a crossroads, with the future of both democracy and the economy at stake.

“We made a decision together as a country,” she said, “to invest in ourselves, our kids, and in our future and for nearly half a century, that’s just what we did. And it worked. For nearly 50 years, as our country got richer, our families got richer – and as our families got richer, our country got richer.

“And then about 30 years ago, our country moved in a different direction,” Warren said. “New leadership attacked wages. They attacked pensions. They attacked health care. They attacked unions. And now we find ourselves in a very different world from the one our parents and grandparents built.

“We now live in a world in which the rich skim more off the top in taxes and special deals, and they leave less and less for our schools, for roads and bridges, for medical and scientific research – less to build a future.”

Christie’s speech was one of many last night set up to convince the public that Republican leaders are really just like the nation’s working-class majority.

Although viewers were hard pressed to see anyone resembling racial minorities in the vast audience the GOP put the former Democratic Congressman Arthur Davis, an African American now backing Romney, and the tea bagger Senate nominee from Texas, Ted Cruz, on the speakers stand.

Most of the big-named politicians who spoke had to reach pretty far back into their ancestral past to find a grand parent or perhaps a great grandparent who qualified as a bona-fide member of the working class. (Anne Romney’s grandfather, the Welch miner, Christie’s great grandfather, a worker from Ireland, Rick Santorum’s grandfather, a miner in Pennsylvania with “large rough hands covered with thick skin,” sticking out of his sleeves as young Rick knelt by the coffin.)

A feature of the “Diversity Hour” speeches was the theme that Obama is letting welfare recipients collect checks without having to work, in clear violation, the Republicans said, of the welfare reform law signed by Bill Clinton, who was described as a “forward-looking, better Democrat.” (No one mentioned how Republicans had impeached him when he was in office.)

Several of the speakers made the claim about Obama and the welfare work requirement despite it having been rejected now by scores of fact checkers. But in combination with oft-repeated stories of how hard their immigrant ancestors had worked with out ever asking for government “handouts,” the clear aim last night was to ignite as much anti-Black resentment as possible.

Photo: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.