Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I'm probably the Labor Movement.

If there had a been a political version of the reality TV show "Biggest Loser" during the 2008 presidential race, the hands down "winner" would have been the unions. While the rest of us projected our hopes and dreams onto the blank face of the Obama campaign, Big Labor was trading phone banks, door knocking and hard cash for influence. But while the rest of us have only ourselves to blame for conjuring up a fantasy hero to change everything in Washington, Big Labor got snookered. As Randy Shaw wrote this week,
...labor is the big spender on the left, and as 2012 approaches, are unions really going to pour another $200 million into Obama’s campaign? And millions more into Senate Democrats, not one of whom (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who did speak out, is not a Democrat) spoke out strongly and tried to organize actions against the debt deal?

Labor made the right decision to pour massive resources into electing Democrats in the 2008 elections. But this strategy failed. Now unions must redirect resources to ongoing organizing, and make it clear to Obama’s campaign that it should look to the “independents” whose support it so desperately seeks, rather than the union members whose agenda it scorns, for money and volunteers in 2012.
At least some unions seems to have learned a lesson from shadow boxing with the Democrats. The International Association of Fire Fighters, to take one example, decided in April to pull back from national politics (as Jeanne Cummings reported in Politico):
As newly elected Republican state legislatures aggressively push a slew of anti-union measures, the International Association of Fire Fighters is freezing its federal political spending and shifting all resources toward its beleaguered state and local colleagues.

“With the survival of our union and the ability to preserve and protect the rights, wages, and benefits our members deserve in jeopardy in the states, we have re-evaluated how to get the best results from our political dollars,” IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger an email blast to members....
The fire fighters' PAC spent more than $4 million in the 2010 midterms and was still writing checks at the beginning of this year. “But until we see our friends in Congress be as committed to standing and fighting with us with the same level of intensity and ferocity as our enemies are trying to kill us, I’m turning the spigot off,” Schaitberger told Politico. Cummings reported Schaitberger was particularly ticked off that Senate Democrats killed a firefighter grant program that his members had helped push through the House despite GOP control.

Not every spark turns into a firestorm, of course. But where there's smoke there's fire. Okay. Whatever. The point is that 2012 may not be a repeat of 2008. Even if the Democrats manage to scare many progressives to vote for their ticket on election day with phantasmagoria about the demons on the other side, it's already clear that there will be less enthusiasm, and less money than in 2008. Obama couldn't crack 53% in the political equivalent of the perfect storm; the Democrats will find it hard to repeat even if the Republicans offer another unattractive and transparently incompetent contender, their typically empty-suitor.

The national Democrats' difficulties are not a problem but an opportunity. Even if Obama had been the second coming of FDR, wresting control of the Democratic Party from the banksters and their cohort would have problematic; having a corporate Democrat in the White House makes it impossible. But should the Democrats lose the executive, the way may be clearer to increasing Labor's sway over public policy.

From: Labor Idle As Obama, Democrats Back “Raw Deal” for Working People by Randy Shaw (BeyondChron 2011-08-04)
See, also: Labor's Revival Depends on Workplace Organizing, Not Electoral Politics by Randy Shaw (BeyondChron 2011-06-13)

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