Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Who Will Labor Endorse for 2008?

David Sirota, in a diary about the future of a populist momentum on the Democratic 2008 campaign trail that's "building like he hasn't seen in his lifetime".

He wonders what Labor will do about their endorsement of a Democratic candate in 2008. I think that he was spot-on when he said that John Edwards simply believes in the Labor agenda and isn't out there supporting them only for their endorsement.

I believe that the way that we citizens tend to view Labor is influenced by the way our leaders support Labor. If the leader's support seems genuine to us, we are more likely to get out more activism to more fully support Labor's causes. I am impressed not only with his level of longstanding support for and commitment to Labor, but also with the fact that Edwards, of all 2008 candidates, doesn't speak of Labor as something retrograde or static. I think that this was Dick Gephardt's problem. Edwards is new-school Labor - he sees the face of its successful future. He envisions a wider future with the Labor movement adapting to progress, globalization, outsourcing, et al. Dean had done much the same early in 2003, promoting foreign labor unions and saying that fair trade could deter terrorism. He was right then as Edwards is now.

Labor can endorse any candidate they choose, but why would they want to endorse a political power structure that has failed them in this new Century? Do they not realize that they can shape their future by being the big change that I'm assuming they seek?

To me, it seems that they are faced with a choice similar to that of which they faced in 2004, as you have mentioned. They were courageous (at first) and went with an endorsement for Howard Dean, as did Al Gore. Later, Dean's campaign was sabotaged by the powers that be when the droning dullards of mainstream media, the right blogosphere, and the DLC trounced Dean's campaign but for one innocuous scream. Labor lost a champion and a troubled AFSCME leader Gerald McEntee abandoned the Howard Dean campaign just before the 2004 Wisconsin primary. He made the dreadful mistake of classifying Howard Dean as "nuts." This is precisely how Labor has sabotaged itself in the past - by allowing the old power structure to come in and do their damage and then say that they agreed with them all along when, in reality, Labor knew they had a real friend in Howard Dean.

Labor has learned some lessons from 2004, but I'm not quite sure what the result of the education will be yet. As a citizen who supports them with my heart and mind, I hope they won't cut off their own collective nose to spite their collective face.

UPDATE: Steve Greenhouse of the NY Times says that Labor may sit back and wait before endorsing any Democrat. However,
...“If our board voted today, it would be leaning toward Edwards,” Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, said. “He showed up at a Goodyear picket line. He just called and said, ‘I’ll be there.’ That kind of stuff really rings home with our members.”

* While at Working Assets, don't miss Mr. Sirota's juicy piece: More Rocky Mountain Republicans Rejecting Grover Norquist-ism