My Obamaphile friends may object, but it’s time to consider an uncomfortable fact about Obama: His indifference to the plight of labor unions in Wisconsin led to the rise of Scott Walker as a possible presidential candidate. According to Andrew Levine, the liberal Obamaphile view of Obama goes something like this:
From the moment that it became clear that his presidency would be rife with “disappointments” and sparing in achievements, Democrats have maintained that he means well and would be a force for good—were it not for pesky Republicans thwarting his every move.
Obamaphiles believe Obama is a progressive and therefore assume he is pro labor. When confronted with a fact that is incongruent with this view, their impulse is to a) not believe it, or b) imagine there are mitigating factors that “we simply can’t know,” or c) insist he can’t do (fill in the blank) because Republicans will attack him and/or use it against him.
Because the Obamaphile tendency is to always give him a pass on his record, they deprive themselves of the opportunity to develop a clear understanding how government and politics currently function. If we are to ever rebuild our democracy—and I’m not sure at this point we can—we have to take a clear-eyed look at the corrupting effect of money in government, especially at the presidential level. One way to do that is to compare a president’s rhetoric to his actual record.
Some uncomfortable facts
The elite, who pay massive sums to support candidates from both parties, are deeply hostile to labor unions. Case in point: Penny Pritzker, billionaire Obama bundler and recent cabinet appointee, has a strong anti-labor record, both at the Chicago public schools where she served on the school board, and at her family’s Hyatt hotel chain. Although Obama’s campaign rhetoric and statements while in office have been pro-labor, his record shows that he has served the interests of the anti-union elite—donors who will remain important to him after he leaves office.
In rousing campaign speeches Obama has vowed to walk picket lines in solidarity with workers, but Andrew Levine gives us a revealing account of Obama’s indifference to labor struggles (my emphasis in bold).
Like other Democrats in recent decades, Obama offers verbal support to organized labor around election time, while practicing malign neglect all the time. . . .
The state Democratic Party in Wisconsin did try to send Governor Scott Walker—the first of the pack to go after public sector unions—on his way. Obama did nothing to help them.
He must have thought that his time would be better spent chatting up wealthy donors than campaigning against a union buster.
This, anyway, is what he did in the days before the 2012 recall election that Walker won. When he could have been campaigning in African American neighborhoods in Milwaukee and Racine, where he might have done some good by getting potential Democratic voters to the polls, he chose instead to hobnob with the rich and heinous at fundraisers – for his own 2014 campaign — in Minnesota and Illinois.
Then, the night before the election, he sent out a tweet in support of the recall movement. Yippee!
Scott Walker emboldened by Obama’s indifference to union struggles
Emboldened by winning his recall election, and his success in destroying public sector unions, Walker went after all labor unions. The result? Once blue Wisconsin is now a “right to work” state. Liberals blame ALEC and the Koch brothers but Obama’s complete lack of support of Wisconsin union workers is equally, if not more to blame.
After the horse was out of the barn, and the bill was signed, Obama made this statement:
As its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans — by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave,” Obama said, without mentioning Walker by name.
That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy — not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.
The fact that Obama was absent when he was needed belies his progressive-sounding rhetoric. A complacent, stenographic media fails the public by not asking why he didn’t show up in support of union workers in Wisconsin.
Obama supports union bashing corporate Dem Rahm Emanual
Levine goes on to contrast Obama’s indifference towards struggling pro-labor Democrats in Wisconsin with his lavish support for pro-corporate candidate for mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanual, also known by local progressive opponents as “Mayor One Percent.”
Here’s a list of Rham Emanual’s accomplishments in his first term as mayor.
- He closed more than 50 public neighborhood schools, primarily in African American and Latino neighborhoods.
- He closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics, leaving many of the poorest and most in need without access to quality, affordable care.
- He attacked unions, including cutting pension benefits while using tax dollars for corporate subsidies.
- He refused to hire more police officers to combat the city’s crime problem, citing budgetary constraints.
- He broke his promise of openness, fighting efforts at increased transparency, ignoring community input, and micro-managing the press.
Although he couldn’t be bothered with Wisconsin labor struggles, Obama recently flew to Chicago, campaigned for Rahm, and even produced a radio ad for him. Even though Rahm had Obama’s backing and truckloads of “one percent” money, he failed to get 50% of the vote and will have to win a run-off election this April against progressive Jesus Garcia, whom the Chicago teacher’s union has endorsed. Levine continues:
Cronyism is not the only reason why Obama was there for Emanuel but AWOL in the struggle against Walker. Obama will sometimes support Democrats who run against genuine progressives. But when a Democrat runs against a rightwing miscreant, he can’t be bothered.
Indeed, he seems to relish sticking it to all of his core constituencies—organized labor most of all. Unions do yeoman service for the Democratic Party at election time. Even Scott Walker can figure out that the weaker unions are, the less service they are able to perform. But Obama doesn’t care. . . .
Walker could have been crushed in 2012. Because he wasn’t, Democrats may have to deal with him again before long. The man is a flyweight even by Republican standards, but, partly thanks to Obama’s indifference, he is now a serious contender for winning the GOP’s nomination in 2016.
If by some unlikely but not impossible course of events, Walker or someone similarly god-awful actually becomes America’s next President, Obama will have much to answer for.