“Last night I interviewed Jill Stein the presidential candidate for the Green Party on this show. And I confess right now, I should have asked her to just get out of the race.” – Jennifer Granholm, “The War Room” [Current TV]
THE ARGUMENT Jennifer Granholm makes above is a tactic that no longer fits the times. It’s used in the comments around here often. But Ms. Granholm goes further. She states that in her interview with Jill Stein this week she should have asked her to get out of the race, citing Ralph Nader as the example of what can happen. I feel for any Democrat making this plea, I do. But the only “accomplice” in electing Mitt Romney is Barack Obama.
Last night Ms. Granholm’s opening segment was on Caterpillar squeezing its union employees while record profits soar.
“A company that earned a record $4.9 billion in 2011 and $1.586 billion in the first quarter of this year should be willing to help the workers who made those profits for them,” said Timothy O’Brien, president of Machinists Local Lodge 851, which represents the strikers. “Caterpillar believes in helping the very rich, but what they’re doing would help eliminate the middle class.” – At Caterpillar, Pressing Labor While Business Booms
What Ms. Granholm misses is the underlying reason the middle class is at a crossroads in this country and they’re is no protection in sight is that politicians don’t seem to be moved to help them in any concerted or organized way, while unions continue collapsing. One reason is because the one political party that used to be there for them didn’t even nominate the union candidate in Wisconsin up against a governor who made no secret that his goal was busting the rights of workers to collective bargaining. Not even Pres. Obama could be bothered to show up in solidarity.
Jennifer Granholm’s unflinchingly strong stand on these subjects and her coverage of what’s going on at Caterpillar rings out in the deafening silence from the leader of the Democratic Party.
From labor reporter Steve Greenhouse this week in the New York Times:
Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here. Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness.
The company’s stance has angered the workers, who went on strike 12 weeks ago. “Considering the offer they gave us, it’s a strike we had to have,” said Albert Williams, a 19-year Caterpillar employee, as he picketed in 99-degree heat outside the plant, which makes hydraulic parts and systems essential for much of the company’s earth-moving machinery.
[...] The showdown, which has no end in sight, is being closely watched by corporations and unions across the country because it involves two often uncompromising antagonists — Caterpillar and the International Association of Machinists — that have figured in many high-stakes labor battles.
“Caterpillar has been a leader in the past 20 years in taking a hard line,” said Richard Hurd, a professor of industrial relations at Cornell. Last winter, Caterpillar locked out about 450 workers at its locomotive plant in London, Ontario, and then closed the factory after the union rejected its demand to cut wages by 55 percent. In the mid-1990s, the company vanquished the United Automobile Workers after a 17-month strike by 9,000 workers at eight factories; the union surrendered and accepted the company’s concession-filled offer.
No one will argue that unions have to modify their tactics and their demands in the global economic environment. But organizing workers remains the only way the middle class will be reinvigorated. Unfortunately, there is no sign that there will be a cooperative effort between unions and business, so the outlook remains very bleak.
Where was Pres. Obama’s Justice Dept. in prosecuting Wall Street crooks? He doesn’t even understand that this would have had the added political benefit of sending a message to voters that he’s their champion.
The youth vote is Pres. Obama’s canary in the voting booth. But young people are too smart to believe in more promises, so are older Democrats, with the charge of “accomplice” dragged out of the dustbin of another time hardly convincing.
Like so many others, Jennifer Granholm is not listening to what disaffected, disappointed and disinterested Democrats and progressives, but also independents, are telling the Democratic Party. (I do not include myself in this group for reasons already stated.) Republicans did the same thing and ended up with a Tea Party wing. Progressives have proven to be too tame for that so far, which is unfortunate, because they’ve aided and abetted Pres. Obama’s squishy centrism.
Ms. Granholm didn’t ask Jill Stein to get out of the election, because Ms. Stein is not the problem.