Thursday, September 14, 2006


Winning Hearts and Minds

As many have pointed out, unions represented a key building block of the New Deal coalition that brought victory to the Democrats and strength to our nation. If we want to regain our past glories both as a nation and as a party, unions need to be stronger. But for unions to be stronger (and for liberalism to regain the support of the working classes), unions need to actually, um, help individual workers!

NPR last night reported on the issue of health tourism. It is a complicated issue related to many others (one big question: why does cost of living vary so much from place to place?). But what struck me was the story of one person, who was going to have a free operation, but his union blocked it. I understand the union's general opposition to outsourcing of health care, but why would a union act specifically to keep one of its own members from receiving health care for free and instead make it so he has to pay out of pocket for it?

If unions want to regain their previous strength, they need to be seen as helping workers, individual workers, not some abstract concept of workers.

People wonder why Joe and Jane Sixpack are leery of unions and liberals? Maybe it's because sometimes unions and liberals are so obsessed with issues we forget about people. If liberalism is to be relevant in this country, we need to remember our own rhetoric about "acting locally" and, well, act on it. "Think globally, act locally" is how the GOP has obtained power. Let's give our side a chance and do the same.

And absolutely we must stop fondling the duck by doing things like denying workers benefits, even if those benefits don't quite fit so well with the big picture.

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