One of the most powerful and influential sources, historically speaking, of clout anmoney for the Democratic Party has been organized labor. Back in the heyday of the unions, their support or lack of it could make or break a candidate.
In recent years, probably going back to the Vietnam era, the unions, for a number of reasons, have not been so staunchly Democratic. One of the main reason, I think, for this “defection” wasthe blue-collsr union rank and file tended to be “love-ir-oe-leave it patriots” and many still are today.
However, the blue-collar unions, members of the AFL_CIO, are in decline as the American economy has shifted to being more service oriented. Those blue-collar unions who sill have large memberships, like the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters, have seen their particular industry fall on hard times. That has seriously impacted the ability of these unions to muster troops and money for the candidates of their choice.
Given that financial and organizational support are necessary to win the nomination and then the Presidency, those organizations that provide more of eithor or both generally have a great deal of influence on the candidate, especially if they get elected.
Although the blue collar unions have lost some of their clout with candidates, the service employee unions are gaining clout, to the point where this year the Democratic contenders are actively wooing them, as a recent article in the New York Times points out: A Union With Clout Stakes Its Claim on Politics – New York Times. So, it appears that the white-collar unions will have a great deal of influence if the Democrats win back the Presidency.
Why does this sort of thing happen? Why does a candidate need to barter policymaking influence for money? In other words, why do the candidates for President have to become whores?
As I mentioned in the first installment of this series, the system is set up in such a way that no candidate can raise enough money or muster enough organizational support to make an effective run at the Presidency without catering to these power brokers, for the lack of a better term. It has been tried, but all attenpts to campaign effectively with only “clean money” have failed miserably.
Until there is some serious election reform, we will continue to see candidates being sold off to the highest bidder, like blooded horses at a breeder auction. The chances of getting that kind of election reform are slim, given that the people who would institute the necessary reforms are the very people being bought by these power brokers.
So, it will be politics as usual in 2008, I am afraid. My advice to you who take an interest in these sorts of things is watch the money trails. See who is buying influence with each of the candidates. Then check out the interests of these power brokers. That, more than any rhetoric from the candidates, will tell you exactly what kind of President the candidate will be: their priorities, their positions on issues, and who will be the power behind the throne.
Here’s some late-breaking news related to this topic:
Big Union Endorses Clinton – NewYork Times. AFSCME, the union referred to in this article represents non-federal government employees. I was a member of AFSCME back in the late 1970s when they were first really getting started organizing government employees. I worked at a local office in Chicago of the Illinois unemployment compensation service.