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The Battle Over The Democratic Party: The Establishment vs The Populist

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Hillary Clinton is lining up endorsements at an unprecedented level before a single vote has been cast. This is being done to make it appear that the nomination is a foregone conclusion. This is the establishment’s way of marginalizing the populist message of Bernie Sanders.  They benefit from the status quo.

So we have a few more endorsements for Hillary Clinton this week.  Nate Silver ‘s 538 blog gives Hillary 447 Endorsement points while Bernie Sanders has only 2.  Both of Bernie’s endorsements were from congressman (Raul Grijalva-AZ, Keith Ellison-MN) while Hillary’s numerous  endorsements come from the vast Democrat party elite and those Democrats hoping to be part of the future elite. This is further indication of the choke-hold corporations and wealthy interests have over the very corporate-friendly Democratic Party. These politicians who have endorsed Hillary are in most cases just backing the most likely nominee for their own selfish political interests. This comes as no surprise to watchers of the political landscape.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Somewhat more surprising is the number of labor unions supporting Hillary Clinton over long time labor union friend Bernie Sanders. I am well aware unions have different issues that are important to their membership, so there can be no criticism if a union backs a certain candidate because of his/her stance on issues. However, when unions support someone primarily because the candidate is seen as “most electable,” then their endorsements can be questioned.

By all accounts, Lee Saunders is a champion of working people and he helped revitalize AFSCME Local 37 in NYC, which is one of the best locals regarding political activism in this country.  Knowing this, his statement regarding their endorsement of Hillary Clinton made me look twice.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said members want a candidate committed to fixing the economy and raising incomes for hardworking individuals struggling to get by, as well as someone who supports strong unions.  “What we also heard was AFSCME members want the candidate who will be the most effective champion for working families and who will be able to deliver a victory in this critically important election,” he said in a statement. “AFSCME members believe that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Are union leaders missing the point that this is a Primary, and they should be supporting candidates who most support the rights of working people, and not settle for the candidates most likely to win? They are not picking a horse at Churchill Downs.  There will be a general election in November 2016 and each union can again endorse the candidate they think is best for their members.

Hillary Clinton was a Board Member of  Walmart for six years and never once, according to tapes and recollection, spoke out against Walmart’s fervent anti-unions policies.  She sat silently as Clinton’s fellow board member John Tate frequently blasted unions. Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers’ meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase: “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.” Most activists I know would have had to be removed from the room screaming if they were present to hear these words.

Clinton was outspoken on the board regarding Walmart’s token support for environmental and women’s rights but was silent the issue of  union rights.  The corporate-owned Democratic Party elite have no problem supporting token gestures towards women’s rights or gay rights, but they stare blankly when the issue of labor rights is mentioned. The elite are nervous about changing the economic equation for working people. The current version of the Democratic party has not been an enemy of labor unions like the Republican party is, but they also have not been our  friend.

Bernie Sanders With Verizon WorkersDemocrats have possibly the best champion of working people in our generation with Bernie Sanders as a serious candidate. Bernie speaks truth to power and calls out corporations and the wealthy for fleecing this country’s working people.  The privileged wealthy are benefiting from a tilted playing field as their wealth soars while working people struggle daily to just survive. This  income inequality not been seen since the Gilded Age. Bernie is drawing record crowds to his rallies and his popular support from ordinary Americans would be the dominant political news of the day if it wasn’t for the Trump circus.

SEIU Local 560 President Earl Sweet called the Vermont senator “the most honest man in Washington.”  “There’s no question about what Bernie believes because he has always meant what he said – and to many of us in the labor movement, that’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “Sen. Sanders has always stood up for workers and the middle class, here in New Hampshire and across the country, which is why we’re proud to give him our enthusiastic endorsement.”

Democratic and union activist’s must ask themselves.  Which side are they on?

 

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About Bill Brickley

Bill is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, serves on the NH Letter Carrier Executive Board as State Legislative Liaison. Also serves on the NH AFL-CIO Executive Board. Former NH Area Coordinator Amnesty International and NH Labor News Blogger Follow him on twitter @BillBrickley@NHSALC
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