2014 Election Is Crucial For Unions

As Republicans in Michigan continue the nationwide right-wing assault on labor unions—the Republican-dominated legislature just passed a falsely descriptive “right to work” law—we, those of us sympathetic to unions and their political friends in the Democratic Party, need to remember how we got to this point.

The 2010 mid-term elections represented a terrible triumph of reactionary forces in America. The Tea Party movement, born partly as a result of white people’s irrational fears over a black Democrat in the White’s House, helped put a lot of extremist conservative Republicans in both national offices and, more important in terms of attacking unions, in state offices.

Michigan, traditionally one of the friendliest states in the union for unions, was lost in 2010 to the anti-union zealots, many of whom have business ties that make them reactive enemies of collective bargaining and union power. One of those with business ties is the governor, Rick Snyder, a former business executive. No surprise, after initially seeming to be uninterested in passing right-to-freeload legislation, he most likely will now sign the bill.

My point here is that the 2010 elections should teach Democrats a lesson. The energy and effort that was put into the election and reelection of President Obama needs to be replicated in the off years, as that is when the party in power is most vulnerable to insurgency.

Here are the turnout rates for the 2008, 2010, and 2012 elections, as provided by the United States Elections Project:

voter turnout in us and michigan

As you can see, general enthusiasm for participating was down in 2010, the year the Tea Party insurgents began their assault on labor, and, according to a report by CBS News, exit polling indicated that lack of enthusiasm hurt Democrats more:

Core Democratic groups stayed away in droves Tuesday, costing Democratic House candidates dearly at the polls. 

Hispanics, African Americans, union members and young people were among the many core Democratic groups that turned out in large numbers in the 2008 elections, propelling Mr. Obama and Democratic House candidates to sizable victories. In 2010, turnout among these groups dropped off substantially, even below their previous midterm levels. 

Voters under the age of 30 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and nearly 13 percent in 2006 but only made up 11 percent of the electorate in 2010. The share of voters from union households dropped from 23 percent in 2006 and 21 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2010. African Americans made up 13 percent of the electorate in 2008 but fell to 10 percent in 2010. Such apathy likely cost the Democrats House seats as voters in each of these groups cast ballots for Democratic House candidates by at least 15 point margins.

It will be along road to unseating those right-wingers, in Michigan and elsewhere, who won seats in 2010, but the effort started with this year and it needs to continue in 2014, or else more damage will be done to unions and thus to working people.



  1. ansonburlingame

     /  December 13, 2012

    All of your might find this interesting. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/best-and-worst-places-to-work-in-federal-government/2012/12/12/3cacb7d8-4472-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html?hpid=z1

    How do you incentivize a work force and still be able to afford it?



  2. I too found Anson’s link interesting about dissatisfaction in the Civil Service ranks. It seems to me that job satisfaction correlates with efficacy. The TSA’s mission is analogous to that of a Mall cop – success is found in not screwing up and in being ready to respond to a threat that hardly ever comes. In paring unnecessary government fat one could do worse than pare according to job dissatisfaction because dissatisfaction usually equates to ineffectiveness. At a minimum the government ought to have roving teams who constantly test the TSA’s effectiveness – at least that would give the people some challenge and a reason for enthusiasm. Maybe they do, but if so I don’t think it’s done enough.

    Two good places to start reform would be the unnecessary bureaucratic layers comprised by the DHS and the DNI. It is no accident that when Susan Rice bravely climbed Capital Hill in an attempt to defend her honor that she was accompanied by the head of the CIA and not James Clapper, the DNI. Why wasn’t he the one speaking for the Intelligence establishment? After all, the purpose of the DNI was supposedly to compel all the intelligence agencies to work together. What a senseless travesty! What should have been done instead, in the wake of 9/11, was simply to hold the CIA accountable. The same goes for DHS. This crap has been going on since and before the time of Jonathan Swift, but that’s no excuse to perpetuate it.


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