Thursday, July 05, 2012

Why We Can't Have Nice Things: WA Unions Turn Their Backs On Progressive Friends

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

See, this is why we can't have nice things.

If you want a nice, crystal-clear example of why it's so hard to elect strong, pro-labor progressives to Congress who fight for working families, look no further than the race in Washington's new 1st congressional district. It's a crowded field, and among them you can identify three strong, pro-labor progressives who have excellent track records when it comes to working families: Laura Ruderman, Steve Hobbs, and our own favorite, Darcy Burner.

So who have the local unions (including the Washington State Labor Council, the Machinists, and the Teamsters) in Washington, following the lead of the state's hapless Establishment Democrats, decided to back?

Turns out the answer is a strange one: The 1 percenter who won't take a stand on Social Security or Medicare. The classic Blue Dog in the making who trails in all the polls. But because she's got deep pockets, they're lining up behind her.

The final straw came this week when the local SEIU, of all organizations, decided to turn its back on their hard-working allies and support the candidate who thinks our best strategy should be to compromise with Republicans more.

I have some questions for the nice folks who run these unions:
  • What was the thinking behind choosing DelBene out of the field of Democratic candidates? Out of all of them, she has the least impressive record of standing up and fighting for working families. So far, she won’t even commit to defending Social Security and Medicaid. And she has talked endlessly about how Democrats need to be friendlier to business interests, and that we need to compromise more with Republicans. In other words, you’ve endorsed a classic Blue Dog in the making.
  • At least two candidates in the race – Laura Ruderman and Darcy Burner – have significantly better track records when it comes to standing up for working families. And Burner is polling significantly better than DelBene, including in a matchup with John Koster. Why turn your backs on obvious allies who could use the support?
  • Did DelBene’s deep pockets – that is, her ability to self-finance her campaign – play any role in your decision? And if so, when did that become a consideration for endorsement by a labor union?
Look, we get what's happening: The local unions are hedging their bets. They know that that if Ruderman or Hobbs or Burner win this race, those folks will still be voting their way. This way, there's a chance they'll at least get DelBene to listen.

I wonder if they'll give me any comment the day after DelBene screws them over (should she get the chance), as all Blue Dogs eventually do.

The strategy is obvious, and it's stupid and wrong-headed. Rather than helping ensure a strong advocate of working families gets elected, these Nine-Dimensional Chess Players are once again stranding their own best allies, thereby helping ensure we continue these cycles of weak support for labor and its issues in Congress. Nice going, guys!

It's systemic. This week we learned that the DCCC (which has a long and unfortunate history when it comes to electing Blue Dogs) has been sending millions in campaign to the same 17 Democratic bozos who voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt in the face of the GOP's latest fake scandal, the "Fast and Furious" scam. And they're going to keep doing so. Because there really is no such thing as party discipline among Democrats. Thanks to outfits like the DCCC.

However, the next time you hear labor leaders bemoaning the lack of leadership in Congress, just point out this race to them. When the unions act like the DCCC, they have no one to blame but themselves.