I Don’t Get Union Political Strategy

When doing some research for my local race blog, I noticed that the Republican candidate for Congress got a $10K donation from the Bricklayers’ Union, the maximum allowed by law. This contribution happened even though her opponent, Louise Slaughter, has received over $100K this cycle from unions, which shows who most unions think will be on their side.

I think I might understand the local politics of this donation, since the candidate, County Executive Maggie Brooks, is a pretty reliable union supporter, as are many Republican office holders in New York. But, nationally, and in states like Wisconsin where there was at least a peaceful accommodation between Republicans and unions, this isn’t the case. It’s been obvious since the Gingrich days that union bashing is a cornerstone of Republican politics, and that any union supporting a Republican for federal office is slitting its own throat. Yet I still see local unions giving sizable donations to federal candidates.

Is this just a New York thing? I’ve never been a union member, but why in the hell would you want to pay dues to an organization that does something this boneheaded?

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78 replies
  1. 1
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    No, it’s not a “New York” thing. Just stupid.

  2. 2
    Schlemizel says:

    This is still echos of Nixon’s election strategy. He drove a wedge between the workers and Dems. Yes, some of it was race, but so was law-n-order (which also owes some to racial politics) and of course the mobbed up Nixon in bed with the mobbed up Teamsters and it worked pretty well. St. Ronald played that very well so that unions were no longer 100% reliable for Dems. Given that, a lot of Dems abandoned support for union members or are willing to drop them for any excuse. If they behaved like the NRA they would have 10x the power but the wedge is in pretty deep.

    Lets hope the recent behavior of the GOP finally puts a dagger through the heart of that relationship & that its not too late to repair the damage.

  3. 3
    Zifnab25 says:

    I have to assume at least some contingent of union membership is Republican. And while I’m not terribly privy to the inner workings of union politics, I’m willing to bet that they have some kind of round-table discussion over who gets what kind of political support. In that kind of light, it may be better to kick over $10k to a GOP Congressman than it would be to loss X union members that are hard right conservatives and demand that their pet candidates get some kind of support.

  4. 4
    JoyfulA says:

    In Pennsylvania, unions always gave a lot of support to Arlen Specter. I’ve seen yard signs listing the whole Democratic ticket, but with Specter’s opponent’s name taped out. I have no idea why.

  5. 5
    OzoneR says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Lets hope the recent behavior of the GOP finally puts a dagger through the heart of that relationship & that its not too late to repair the damage.

    Why would it? As you mentioned earlier “some of it was race”

    the president is black

  6. 6
    PeakVT says:

    but why in the hell would you want to pay dues to an organization that does something this boneheaded?

    Because politics is not the most important thing unions do for members, at least in the short term. And dues aren’t voluntary as long as a workplace is unionized.

  7. 7
    El Cid says:

    On occasion donations like this are made to demonstrate that a person or organization is not simply and absolutely a partisan on ‘one side’, even if more effort & resources are donated to increase the likelihood of one party’s / candidate’s victory.

    In addition, if the non-favored candidate or party wins, it can still help buy a little influence, although of course being sophisticated and mature we all know that donations don’t buy votes due to there never being a simple 1:1 ratio of donations to votes and therefore this is all imaginary.

  8. 8
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Why?

    Because if the GOP candidate wins, then demand for bricks will go through the roof!

  9. 9
    Foregone Conclusion says:

    Weren’t the craft unions always the most institutionally conservative and least likely to support the Democrats anyway?

  10. 10
    Socratic_me says:

    I can’t speak for other unions, but within the education unions I have been a part of, there were always a few Republican members who complained loudly about how all the union looked for was a D beside the name of a politician. This was especially true in AK. And it really didn’t matter how many times you explained that all the Rs had destroyed our retirement and consistently worked to cut funding while arguing that our education system didn’t work (where in reality, Anchorage at least had one of the best Ed systems I have had the privilege of working with). Every once in a while, they would amass enough power and someone would be bland enough aout education for the union to support the odd Republican. En they would vote the way everyone else in the party on education issues and they wouldn’t get support anymore.

    PeakVT is correct about why we support the union regardless of political donations, which are a fairly small part of dues. Also, in many states, finding local pols of both sides willing to support your position really matters. I know in AK they have been working for years to overturn a disastrous retirement change from the Bush years and are finally making tiny amounts of progress, n no small part because they found a few non-crazy Republicans and worked them ceaselessly with educators from their district and campaign donations to reinforce good behavior.

  11. 11
    Todd Tennis says:

    Here in Michigan, most unions have a significant number of members who identify as Republicans. Since unions operate as democracies, these members demand that some political finds go to Republicans. Therefore unions often seek moderate Republicans to support so they can show their members some degree of balance. However, for most unions the overwhelming majority of contributions go to Democrats.

    It is true, however, that these moderate Republicans are becoming harder and harder to find, and there is a sense with the unions I work with that the “gloves are off” now that Republican legislators are being much more blatant and forceful about anti-union rhetoric and union-busting legislation. I predict that the percentage of union PAC funds going to Republicans will significantly decrease this year across the country.

  12. 12
    DJAnyReason says:

    Is there a primary? It would be out-and-out logical to support a pro-Union R in an R primary. Won’t change overnight, but get enough of them in important positions and it could change the party’s tenor.

  13. 13
    Keith G says:

    @Zifnab25:
    @Socratic_me:

    I think you guys have it nailed. It not only is logical, but it matches with what I remember from kitchen table discussions from when my Mom was a local president in Ohio in the early 70s.

  14. 14
    Face says:

    I sincerely hope Lamar Odom is a part of the Bricklayer’s Union.

  15. 15
    jeff says:

    I was in a union for years and there was no point trying to figure out why they did anything, and it wasn’t any of my damned business anyway, so I was told. They take your money and do stuff with it that you may find out about later.

  16. 16
    balconesfault says:

    Well we all know that Republicans who are sympathetic to unions will always stay that way, right?

    And once elected to Congress, Northern Liberal Repubs never vote in lockstep with their radical peers on the most radical, anti-union, anti-middle class parts of their agenda…

  17. 17
    negative 1 says:

    I work for a union, albeit a progressive one who doesn’t use that strategy very often. It’s a survival strategy when we do it. If you throw a bone to the guy on the other side, they may not be as likely to vote to eradicate you. Why? Because you help insulate them against a primary on the R side. So we let them get away with the rhetoric, but as long as they primarily leave us alone we give them a little ammo to avoid the primary challenge. They won’t vote for a thing we want, but they won’t use the state representative assembly to dismantle us. The devil you know…

  18. 18
    wmsheppa says:

    As someone who used to work for a union, I can tell you the time I saw it the most was from the building trades. Local/state republicans are frequently pro ‘incentives’ for businesses to build in their city/state (guaranteed financing, STAR bonds, or TIF bonds), and the building trades give heavily to politicians who support those programs in hope of generating more construction work, particularly when the construction industry is in the tank like it is in many parts of the country.

  19. 19
    gaz says:

    The people that pay the dues need to use the voice god gave them.

    Leaders are universally deluded douchebags. They often need to be cajoled with rusty farm implements and flammable sticks.

    Outrage, people. It’s what’s for dinner.

  20. 20
    jebdogdaddy says:

    Rochester native here: my family in Rochacha, who are mostly union elevator repairmen, are a bunch of tri-corn-wearing libertardians with subscriptions to Reason magazine and lifetime NRA memberships who are oblivious to the fact that they make very large bucks with very big benefits packages and have opportunity for copious overtime because of their union. And yet they mostly bitch endlessly about their union dues and rules. And Democrats. Also, Rochester is weird: socially liberal/tolerant (tons of gay people living openly) while having lots of churches and Republicans.

  21. 21
    beergoggles says:

    The most likely explanation is that there’s a relative of the politician in the political giving council of the union. When something doesn’t make sense, check the nepotism first.

  22. 22
    gaz says:

    @Zifnab25: Republicans have demonstrated over and over again that they do not deserve to reap the benefits of a union job.

    Throw the bums out. [snark]Hire some mexicans instead.[/snark]

  23. 23
    patrick II says:

    The absolute worst current example of unions supporting a Republican is the Police and Fireman’s unions supporting Walker in the recall election in Wisconsin. Those two unions were the only ones whose negotiating rights were not taken away by Walker. And stupidly they don’t think ahead to when the public union movement is so weakened that just their support will make no difference when they are the only two unions left in the state. And worse, the Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, the early favorite to be the Democratic nominee to run against Walker, refused to promise that he would veto a state budget if it didn’t restore collective bargaining rights.

    Even in an election that would not even exist without unions, both some unions and some democratic politicians cannot see past the end of their noses.

  24. 24
    NickM says:

    I don’t know what’s going on with this particular donation — the building trades are a strange world — but I think that unions seek to hedge their bets. When Dems get wiped out in a bad election year, it would not benefit unions if they got wiped out legislatively at the same time. Having some non-anti-union Republicans around is a backstop against the Republicans doing something *really* draconian against labor laws. Or at least, I think that has been the working assumption up until recently. And honestly, I’m not sure it’s the stupidest moves for unions, either.

  25. 25
    DS says:

    I think you may be confusing white-collar unions with “blue-collar” unions. I worked in a unionized factory as a summer job once and I would wager that 75% of the people there were conservative and voted for the Conservative Party (this is in Canada). I would wager that there is a similar situation in places like New York, Ohio, Michigan, etc., where the leadership may support a left-leaning candidate but most of the rank-and-file members vote conservative.

  26. 26
    OzoneR says:

    @patrick II:

    The absolute worst current example of unions supporting a Republican is the Police and Fireman’s unions supporting Walker in the recall election in Wisconsin.

    why not? he exempted them from the collective bargaining law.

    And stupidly they don’t think ahead to when the public union movement is so weakened that just their support will make no difference when they are the only two unions left in the state

    which is just what they’d be fine with.

  27. 27
    Quiddity says:

    Obama supported the Republican-passed free trade agreements. Obamacare penalizes “Cadillac” health plans which unions had negotiated, partly in exchange for wage gains.

    Supporting Democrats didn’t get results from a union point of view. Might as well toss money to Republicans in the hope that they will be responsive to union interests.

  28. 28
    patrick II says:

    @OzoneR:

    Why would they be fine with that? Do they think their unions alone will be able to stand up to political pressure? The next version of the Republican divide and conquer will be — we can contract fire protection — and the union movement won’t be a thing they can do about it because there won’t be any union movement left. And then finally they will come after the cops.

  29. 29
    Argive says:

    @Foregone Conclusion:

    Some of the craft unions definitely resisted integration pretty heavily. These were typically unions made up of skilled laborers who thought they had a pretty good thing going without allowing more people into the labor pool, which might depress wages and job security. Industrial unions such as textile workers were a lot better, because those jobs required less training and were generally not as hard to get. Thus, those unions were not as clannish/protectionist.

  30. 30
    OzoneR says:

    @patrick II:

    Do they think their unions alone will be able to stand up to political pressure?

    what political pressure? Republicans will never go after cops and firefighters, ever.

    You think their opposition to unions is principled? Cops and firefighters are mostly upper middle class white men.

  31. 31
    Linnaeus says:

    I’ll add my voice to those who have said that in unions, you often have a range of political views, and you will get members who will complain that the local is too much in favor of Democrats. That happens even in my fairly progressive white-collar union local. The leadership does need to be responsive to that in some way, or they get accusations of not providing good representation.

    Our local hasn’t given any support to Republican candidates on the federal level, as far as I know. Our state labor federation has endorsed some Republican candidates on the state level in legislative districts that are strongly Republican and where one of the candidates has a reasonably pro-labor record. Doesn’t happen often.

  32. 32
    burnspbesq says:

    @gaz:

    “Leaders are universally deluded douchebags”

    A typically nuanced and sophisticated view of things.

  33. 33
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I Don’t Get Union Political Strategy

    I do. It’s called “I’ll crawl into bed with management and enrich me and my buddies while fucking over the old-timers who built this company and are just about to retire.”

    My father and father-in-law ought to be enjoying a decent retirement. They both served during Vietnam, came home, went to work for the same airline. Their union sold out their benefits (they are now know as “the outliers”) by authorizing a loan of the entire pension fund to the airline. The day after that deal went through, USAir declared bankruptcy. Pension fund all gone, too bad, so sad.

    All planned out in advance, of course. The union guys actually took a cut of the deal. Fucking unreal.

    It’s been in litigation since 2004. Hasn’t even gotten through discovery yet. Frankly, my father and FIL probably aren’t going to live to see the conclusion, which is probably for the best. I’m sure that they’ll get fucked over that day as well.

    Pardon me for being bitter, I’m just a guy who has to take care of his parents now, thanks to the union.

    It ain’t what Utah Phillips told me it was, that’s for fucking sure.

  34. 34
    kideni says:

    @patrick II: To be clear, we’re only talking about a handful of local unions — maybe four or five — out of the hundreds of such police and firefighter unions in Wisconsin. These few unions, all in Milwaukee, supported Walker in 2010 and had no presence at the Capitol when other police and firefighter unions joined the protests last year. It’s my understanding that for these particular unions, their support for Walker is rooted in local politics, such as that they hope he’ll get rid of residency requirements statewide.

    Some unions in the state that have supported Republicans in the past are now stepping back. One of the state senators being recalled was a police officer and had even been the head of his local union, so he easily got their endorsement last time around. Now the union has endorsed his opponent. Some people learn.

  35. 35
    gene108 says:

    @DS:

    I would wager that 75% of the people there were conservative and voted for the Conservative Party (this is in Canada).

    Conservative Canadian or British politicians are an oxymoron, by American standards.

    Both countries are socialist hell-holes because of socialized medicine, which no conservative has privatized to match or exceed the level of privatization in the U.S.A.

    Also, too look at the ludicrously generous maternity leave in Canada that allows a woman to take a whole year off, without the risk of being fired and other social policies, which just destroy job creation and hurt job creators.

    I’m sorry, but there’s no difference between Canadian conservatives and liberals. They are both communists.

  36. 36
    patrick II says:

    @OzoneR:

    Ohio Governor’s Budget Could Force Local Town To Privatize Fire And EMS Services

    They think they are middle class white men. What they are are profit opportunities.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @OzoneR: “Upper middle class white men”? How do you figure that?

  38. 38
    patrick II says:

    @kideni:
    Yes, being more precise is helpful. But I am still amazed that any union, let alone a public union, could support Walker considering what the recall election is all about. Having residency requirements lifted seems nice. Having a job seems nicer.

  39. 39
    kideni says:

    @patrick II: I totally agree. I think these unions are being naïve and short-sighted, and if they think Walker won’t turn around and screw them the first chance he gets, they’re just stupid. Most of the other public safety unions understood that they’d be next, which is why they joined the fight.

  40. 40
    danimal says:

    I agree with the “hedge” strategy mentioned above.

    Also, the public posturing of politicians is sometimes different than the backroom negotiations. There are some pro-union Republicans who will quietly shape legislation and influence colleagues, even if the union is never going to hear a full-throated endorsement or even get their votes.

    This works the other way, too. Not all Ds are friends of unions, even if they appear to be so from afar.

    The local unions are often much more aware of who can advance their agenda than curious outsiders.

  41. 41
    Evilbeard says:

    @gene108:

    You are trolling right? I’m a Liberal and I loathe communism.

  42. 42
    patrick II says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    I am sorry to hear that. I have had friends have similar things happen to them — although usually without union cooperation.
    Speaking of airway worker’s and pension funds, Mitt’s old company Bain is trying to do the same thing to American Airway workers. American Airline Workers Blast Bain, Prepare for Bankruptcy Fight. In that case the union is (as I hope is generally true) actually on the side of its workers.

    Bain’s stance in this case is not a fluke. In a op-ed in the Detroit Free Press, Mitt also regretted that the autoworkers got equity in GM for their pension fund rather than just losing it all.

    The law, in theory, protects pension funds, but in fact people like Mitt find a way around those laws with bankruptcy and other legal finagling. They think they are entitled to take a man’s life savings because building a bigger beach home is so much more important than paying for healthcare with a pension you have contributed to your whole life.

  43. 43

    @JoyfulA: Because it was always thought that Specter would hold the lines(and his seniority), or something. Which became more absurd as time went on.

  44. 44
    mark says:

    @DS: I had a girlfriend from Oshawa when I was in college. She got a summer job at a bumper plant. Union job, swing shift, $55 an hour in 1999, plus two weeks off in July. She, and everyone else who had these sweet summer jobs, could not stop bitching about the union. And she wasn’t even a Tory.

  45. 45
    gaz says:

    @gene108: The 1950’s called. They want their “ZOMG! COMMIES!!!!” meme back.

  46. 46
    gaz says:

    @burnspbesq: You lament my lack of nuance? Is that the same nuance that allows you to support rapists? (I’ll pass, but thanks for your concern)

  47. 47
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @patrick II: I hope that American’s people don’t get the shaft, but the history of THAT particular union doesn’t leave me with a lot of hope.

    There’s two pilot’s unions – ALPA, who most people are familiar with, and AAs union. Why does American have their own separate union? I’ll give you three guesses, and the ones that aren’t “some guys saw the ALPA union brass making out like bandits and asked ‘how can we get a piece of this?” do not count.

    American’s union at least didn’t sell out their senior pilots for a quick buck like ALPA did, so that’s something. Instead, they caved to every demand of management for the last twenty years (management constantly threatened to declare bankruptcy) and now the inevitable has come – they’ve given all that they can and American’s going to declare anyway.

    There’s a lesson here about the value of capitulation. Maybe both the unions and Democrats might learn from it.

    Ha, I kill me. That won’t happen.

  48. 48
    gaz says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Matewan should be required viewing in highschool.

  49. 49
    JR says:

    The reasons have pretty much been covered above. The candidate might be friends with someone on the committee that decides donations. The candidate might be a former member of the union. The union might be the only one giving to the candidate to protect the tiny kernel of responsiveness to Labor that the candidate might then have to maintain. The Democrat could have done something in the past that pissed off the Local. Or the Local could simply be full of Republican members.

    I’ve seen all of those in the past.

  50. 50
    Argive says:

    @gene108:

    This whole “liberals = communists” bullshit is tired and wrong. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the tenets of both communism and modern liberalism. Here’s what someone who was a lot smarter than me had to say about Marxism:

    Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.

    -John Maynard Keynes

  51. 51

    @PeakVT:

    as long as a workplace is unionized.

    These are bricklayers we are talking about. Construction workers who don’t want to be union generally don’t have to be.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    gaz says:

    @gaz: Speaking of this comment.

    I’ll expound.

    Just because a leader is on “your side” generally does not mean you can trust them. The fact that they are leader, and you are not, means they won’t always share your goals. There’s a power imbalance.

    To correct this, use your voice. Make numbers your power. You have to smack your leaders sometimes.

    A minority of leaders can stay the course, walk the right path, even when immersed in the fog of power that comes with leadership – a few, but not most. But even with these leaders, the prescription is the same: They may have the right intentions but just need popular support due to politics. FDR touched on this when he said something like (off the top of my head) “I agree!, now make me do it!”

    Leaders ARE universally deluded douchebags, or at least that’s a healthy mindset to have. Trust them at your peril. Make them do the right thing.

  54. 54
    gaz says:

    @Argive: cosigned.

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    @Aardvark Cheeselog:
    @gaz:
    @Evilbeard:

    I am pointing out the obvious: By American standards Canada and Europe DO NOT HAVE CONSERVATIVES!

    In America, our conservatives would consider their conservatives communists.

    I’m sick and tired of people trying to equate Canadian and European conservatives with our Republican Party and our conservatives; there is no comparison.

    Their conservatives are to the left of our political center.

    Our conservatives, intentionally or unintentionally (I don’t think all of them are smart enough to think through the end result of their actions), seem hell bent on taking America back to the Gilded Age.

    The day a European or Canadian conservative proposes abolishing child labor laws, minimum wage laws and destroys whatever state funding they have for health care, I’ll consider those analogies to American conservatives relevant.

    I don’t see the down side do Canadian union workers voting for the Canadian conservatives. What are the Canadian conservatives going to do to repeal Canada’s social safety net? Not much, to be frank.

    Medicine will still be paid for by the government and they’ll still get a year’s worth of maternity leave.

  56. 56
    Linnaeus says:

    @Argive:

    This whole “liberals = communists” bullshit is tired and wrong. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the tenets of both communism and modern liberalism.

    In general, I think this is true. I would also argue, however, that modern liberalism owes something to Marxism in that it articulated a critique of capitalism that liberalism had to incorporate to some degree.

  57. 57
    gaz says:

    @gene108: Well yes, Your Canadian Conservatives our like our Gay Hippies For Free-Love party. Your overton window is far to the left of ours in most repects.

    Edit: oops,

    @Linnaeus: if modern american liberalism owes something to Marxism, it also owes something to the civil libertarians (little L intentional) and maybe something to Milt Friedman as well (economically speaking – and no I’m not happy with that, but that’s just how it is)…Also to the classic old-school rational conservatism we saw in figures like Eisenhower and yes, MLK.

  58. 58
    Linnaeus says:

    @gaz:

    But if modern american liberalism owes something to Marxism, it also owes something to the civil libertarians (little L intentional) and maybe something to Milt Friedman as well (economically speaking – and no I’m not happy with that, but that’s just how it is)…Also to the classic old-school rational conservatism we saw in figures like Eisenhower and yes, MLK.

    Oh, I wouldn’t deny that modern liberalism draws upon multiple intellectual currents and traditions.

  59. 59
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Dude, this is easy. Broadly speaking (but not always, obviously) union members hate minorities.

    I mean, I’d like it to be something that’s more complicated, but it’s not. If you presume that union members are massive racists, you will be able to more accurately predict their behavior than to assume that they want what’s best for the workers. Check out the materials provided by various consulting firms on union busting sometime – the first step is always to stoke racial resentments. If your workforce is about to unionize, promote a bunch of minorities for no reason, and then they’ll all fight amongst themselves too much to form a defense. Divide and conquer.

  60. 60
    gttim says:

    Nine years ago the teachers union in Georgia supported Republican Governor candidate Sonny Perdue over Democratic candidate Roy Barnes. Barnes was tinkering with the tenure system. Teachers decided to oust him and supported Perdue. One of the very first things Republican Governor Sonny Perdue did after taking office was to freeze all teacher raises for years! I laughed my ass off. What were they thinking?

  61. 61
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I think you mean you don’t get this union’s political strategy

  62. 62
    AA+ Bonds says:

    But I see you’ve already created a Kochnest here so gj mistermix

  63. 63
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I mean blah blah blah Nixon blah blah blah Reagan blah blah blah racism, I don’t know anything about unions except what the Republicans and DLC tell me a bloo bloo bloo

  64. 64
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @Schlemizel: Lets hope the recent behavior of the GOP finally puts a dagger through the heart of that relationship & that its not too late to repair the damage.

    Stuff like that is why union members sometimes vote Republican. It’s always the guns and law-and-order and racial and social stuff that swings some towards the right.

    Listen, there’s something that’s really important to understand, here – the aggression and hysteria that the right spouts on a daily basis is the entire reason people vote for them. People don’t vote Republican in spite of the hysteria and rage, they vote Republican because of it. They want someone to tell them that they can and should lash out as aggressively and hysterically as they want, because sometimes they don’t get their way, dammit.

    Seriously, I can almost guarantee that union members will vote Republican in much higher percentages than in a long, long time this year. And they’re going to vote Republican because the GOP has flipped the fuck out, not in spite of it. Because they’re angry, and the GOP is telling them that it’s okay to be angry and that they should be proud of being angry and that they’re better people because they’re angry.

  65. 65
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Hello I’m a Democrat who thinks unions are racist, I want to help y’all lose in 2012 okay????? I’m totally better than a bricklayers’ union that donates to the Republicans somehow

  66. 66
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @FormerSwingVoter:

    Seriously, I can almost guarantee that union members will vote Republican in much higher percentages than in a long, long time this year. And they’re going to vote Republican because the GOP has flipped the fuck out, not in spite of it. Because they’re angry, and the GOP is telling them that it’s okay to be angry and that they should be proud of being angry and that they’re better people because they’re angry.

    LOL, you can’t guarantee shit

  67. 67
    Chris says:

    @Linnaeus:

    In general, I think this is true. I would also argue, however, that modern liberalism owes something to Marxism in that it articulated a critique of capitalism that liberalism had to incorporate to some degree.

    Marxism or socialism? I mean, Karl Marx didn’t invent socialism, did he? And his brand of it certainly wasn’t the only one around.

  68. 68
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Here are some actual numbers on how unions are Democratic and an analysis by Nate Silver so you have something to respond with when anti-union dipshits show up in these “WHA HAPPEN” threads; I can’t always be here you know

  69. 69
    AA+ Bonds says:

    My advice to the FPer is to think before you post, maybe even read a little

  70. 70
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Herman Cain endorses Mitt Romney; mistermix post: “I don’t get black political strategy”

  71. 71
    Ed Marshall says:

    Presumably they made a deal. The local has it’s own interests to look out for. They probably scored some contract out of it and made their own calculations. I can about guarantee you they didn’t do that our of some random whim or because they cared what their members thought about the greater politics of the race.

  72. 72
    Linnaeus says:

    @Chris:

    Marxism or socialism? I mean, Karl Marx didn’t invent socialism, did he? And his brand of it certainly wasn’t the only one around.

    You’re right in that Marx wasn’t the only socialist around in the 19th century and he had disagreements with other socialists of the time. So maybe it’s better to say “socialism” rather than “Marxism”. I mentioned Marxism specifically because I think it systematized a critique of capitalism much more thoroughly than other strains of socialism (though I could be wrong on this, as I’m certainly no expert on Marx) and hence provided an intellectual foundation that socialists adopted to varying degrees even as they argued its merits among themselves. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the social democratic version of liberalism tended to emerge in the West after the dissemination of Marx’s thought, though that is certainly not the only reason.

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    Always Esteemed Scott says:

    @gene108:

    “By American standards Canada and Europe DO NOT HAVE CONSERVATIVES!”

    Oh, how I wish.
    Unfortunately, we Canadians are currently saddled with possibly the most right-leaning government in our history. They would fit quite comfortably into the center of the modern Republican party, and in fact take much of their political inspiration from the Republicans. Why, it’s starting to look like they may have stolen the last election, in which they finally got their coveted majority.

    Consider this: the current Minister for Science and Technology is a creationist.

    They are totally in thrall to Big Oil, and they HATE the Canadian social safety net, and that includes our health care system. Thankfully, Health Care is the third rail of Canadian politics, and killing it would be political suicide…but they’re trying.

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    Chris says:

    @Linnaeus:

    True, I’ll grant that Marx was probably the most articulate and well grounded of them all.

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    Chris says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Also,

    But if modern american liberalism owes something to Marxism, it also owes something to the civil libertarians (little L intentional) and maybe something to Milt Friedman as well (economically speaking – and no I’m not happy with that, but that’s just how it is)…Also to the classic old-school rational conservatism we saw in figures like Eisenhower and yes, MLK.

    Oh, I wouldn’t deny that modern liberalism draws upon multiple intellectual currents and traditions.

    One of the things I like best about liberalism: it’s constantly reinventing itself. While liberals generally believe in a more enfranchised, egalitarian and prosperous society, the actual political programs they advocate to get there are always getting tweaked and upgraded as the years go by and the world changes. And of course that can include taking ideas from outside liberalism if those ideas have proven effective.

    (Conservatism changes too, but usually by being dragged along kicking, screaming and biting, rather than by any genuine effort to improve itself).

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    p.a. says:

    guns, god, flag. Many members buy into that framing. Immigration, too. When you struggle to remain barely middle class, all change can seem threatening.

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    LosGatosCA says:

    Feudal serfdom sounds good to some of the serfs.

    Hard to understand why, but then again people are committing suicide every day and I don’t (generally) understand that either.

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    thelonius says:

    While I’m not a big fan of union donations to the repug tribe (I’m a life long union member and/or staffer – SEIU, Teamsters, AFSCME, AFT in Illinois, now retired), many NY state and local repugs have been pretty good on union issues. She’ll probably lose the general, but some unions will feel it’s worth keeping the lines open on local issues. There are very few states where this is true, but NY is one of them. I’d never do it, but I know why it’s done in selected areas.

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