Category Archives: Politics

Frustrated with Democrats, white working-class voters turn to Trump

Source: Emily Mills, Jimmy Miller, Lian Bunny, Center for Public Integrity, August 25, 2016

….In economically struggling communities like Mahoning County – where most steel mills have closed – many white, working-class Democrats are voting for Trump, registration records and 2016 presidential primary results show….

…..In Tennessee, after a clothing factory outsourced jobs and operations to Mexico, a county that voted Democratic in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections went Republican in both 2008 and 2012.
In Mahoning County, Ohio, as its county seat Youngstown labors under the loss of the steel industry, more than 6,000 voters have switched from Democrat to Republican this year.

Similarly, frustration over closing steel mills and rising health care costs has swayed nearly 5,400 voters to switch parties in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

And in one Kentucky county where residents frustrated with the demise of the coal industry voted about 31 percent Republican in the 2000 presidential election, they voted more than 72 percent Republican in 2012, even though a majority of its voters remain registered Democrats…..

…..In the March 2008 primary, just under 14 percent of registered voters in Mahoning County – where Youngstown is located – voted Republican. During this year’s state primary in March, more than 48 percent of the county’s registered voters cast a Republican ballot, and poll workers had to print additional Republican ballots. More than 6,000 voters then switched from Democratic to Republican this year…..
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Trump a Working-Class Hero? A Blue-Collar Town Debates His Credentials
Source: Richard Fausset, New York Times, August 26, 2016

The talk gets heated in Youngstown, Ohio, when residents discuss whether a New York billionaire’s ideas can revitalize a struggling Rust Belt town.

Blue Cities, Red States

Source: Abby Rapoport, American Prospect, August 22, 2016

As cities have moved left and states have moved right, the conflicts between them have escalated. ….

…..“PREEMPTION” LAWS ARE not new, nor are they necessarily about undoing local legislation. But with some notable exceptions, past preemption laws have generally enforced what can be called “minimum preemption”: They force localities to do something where they might otherwise have done little or nothing. As it’s often said, they set a “floor” for regulation. For instance, the federal government has been setting minimum standards of environmental protection for years, preempting the states from allowing lower environmental standards. Similarly, states often set a floor for various local regulations, whether regarding pollution, trade licensing, gun ownership, or other matters.

Most current preemption laws, by contrast, are what one might call “maximum preemption.” These laws aren’t about setting minimums; instead, they prohibit local regulation. States have prevented localities from creating paid sick leave requirements for businesses, or raising the minimum wage. Many who oppose these measures blame their proliferation on the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which has drafted “model” preemption bills for state lawmakers to use. “Pretty much anything you can think of that matters to the American family is under assault by local preemption,” says Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which fights preemption laws around the country……

Can the Working Families Party Keep Winning?

Source: Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, August 15, 2016

The party scored major victories in last week’s Connecticut primary. Now what? …. The legislative successes the party has enjoyed in the past came as it gained ground in local races across the state. In 2007, two candidates running on the Working Families Party line won seats on the Hartford City Council. In 2009, a Working Families Party candidate was elected to the Bridgeport Board of Education. …. The party seems to still have a knack for electing progressive Democrats over their more moderate opponents. As much of the country is tuned into national races, Working Families in Connecticut is winning local races one by one, determined to have a bigger presence in the statehouse. …. The party has managed to succeed, in part, because of its well-run ground game. For a Democrat in Connecticut, getting a Working Families Party endorsement means extra people canvassing, help crafting a message, and a signal to state voters that this is the candidate who is the most pro-worker. …..

Is Class Warfare Back? The Sanders Phenomenon and Life after Neoliberal Capitalism

Source: Bob Master, New Labor Forum, Online First, Published online before print August 11, 2016
(subscription required)

…. The Sanders campaign made it possible to imagine building a movement powerful enough to end oligarchical control of our democracy, to avert the planet from climate disaster, to wrest control of the economy from the stranglehold of Wall Street, and to implement the criminal justice reforms, jobs, and education programs that will begin to repair the damage inflicted by four hundred years of institutionalized racism. What follows are thoughts about issues that should be considered as we enter the next phase of the Sanders movement.
1. A new national left party or a single unified organization is unlikely to emerge from the Sanders movement, but let us build something. ….
2. The question of race must be dealt with upfront. ….
3. The new movement should mobilize around a limited agenda that takes on issues of economic and racial exploitation, on one hand, and the reclamation of our democracy, on the other. ….
4. A massive program of grassroots political and economic education must be launched. ….
5. An openly socialist current should be built within the new movement. ….
6. The “political revolution” must be driven down to the level of school boards, city councils, county legislatures, state government, and Congress. ….

The New Political Arithmetic: Who Voted for Bernie, Who Voted for Hillary, and Why

Source: Ted Fertik, New Labor Forum, Published online before print August 4, 2016
(subscription required)

About the only compliment one can pay the American political commentariat in 2016 is that not one of their number has claimed that he or she saw this coming. For either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders to have emerged as legitimate [sic] contenders for the nominations of America’s two major parties would have represented a scrambling of all of the rules of politics that pundits, donors, and aspiring candidates learned since their days as political science undergraduates; for one of them to win a party’s candidacy and the other to have very nearly derailed the most formidable non-incumbent candidate in modern history reveals the social chasm separating so many Americans from their thought leaders and opinion formers….

…..The Sanders base, then, is the young and political independents, who share the core characteristic of being very weakly attached to the existing parties. With the exception of those earning very low incomes, which include large numbers of elderly voters on fixed incomes, Sanders did significantly better among those earning modest incomes than among the best paid. Clinton’s most reliable supporters were stalwartly Democratic African Americans, the elderly, and those well-off Americans who choose to vote in Democratic primaries.

What the Sanders supporters really have in common is that they are the voters more likely to agree that the system—the economic system and the political system that enables it—is broken. The white working-class voters who supported Sanders come from communities that have been hurt by trade deals. Many have directly experienced downward mobility or have come to expect it for their children. If they were once Democrats, they may no longer be, although they feel, as political analyst Thomas Frank portrayed it more than a decade ago, that the Democratic Party left them, not the other way around. For the young, it is well known that they are the first generation of Americans to be almost certain to earn less than their parents…..

Rank and File

Source: Jacobin, Issue 22, Summer 2016

How Labor Lost

The Forgotten Militants
Charlie Post
Weak working class resistance is rooted in the loss of radical trade unionists.

From Class to Special Interest
Barry Eidlin
Why are US unions less powerful than their Canadian counterparts?

The Long Road to Crisis
Nicole Aschoff
The dismantling of autoworker gains was a class project, not the inevitable result of globalization.

Workers of the World
Beverly J. Silver
The potential for workers to resist capital is as strong as ever.

How Labor Can Win

Everything Old Is New Again
Jane McAlevey
Rebuilding the labor movement will take organizing, not just mobilizing.

After the Friedrichs Scare
Joseph A. McCartin
US public sector unions have gotten a reprieve. Will they use it to rebuild, or squander the opportunity?

Beyond Social Movement Unionism
Sam Gindin
Bringing together weak unions and weak social movements isn’t enough. We need a new kind of socialist party.

How labor’s decline opened door to billionaire Trump as ‘savior’ of American workers

Source: Raymond Hogler, The Conversation, August 7, 2016

Out of the economic maelstrom of the last decade, Donald Trump has emerged as the improbable, and self-proclaimed, champion of American workers. ….

…. The important question is how has Trump – a wealthy real estate mogul and reality TV star – managed to attract substantial support among white men without college degrees, a demographic that makes up the base of industrial unionism? The answer is an interlocking set of changing economic and cultural conditions in the U.S. that has undermined middle-class incomes and values. And it starts with the steady erosion of the American labor movement. …..

Public Pension Funds Perform Better When They Keep Politics at Bay

Source: Simon C.Y. Wong, Harvard Business Review, July 19, 2016

….Interference by elected officials — from imposition of local economic development obligations to excessive constraints on head count and compensation that impede recruitment of talented staff — has contributed to poor investment choices, higher total costs, diminished organizations, and disappointing performance at some institutions…..

The Long Shadow of Bush v. Gore: Judicial Partisanship in Election Cases

Source: Michael S. Kang, Joanna Shepherd, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 69, 2016

From the abstract:
Bush v. Gore decided the 2000 presidential election and is still the most dramatic election case of our lifetime, but cases like it are decided every year at the state level. American law leaves it to ordinary common-law courts to regularly decide questions of election rules and administration that effectively decide electoral outcomes hanging immediately in the balance. Election cases like Bush v. Gore embody a fundamental worry with judicial determination of these cases: outcome-driven, partisan judicial decisionmaking. This Article investigates whether judges decide cases, particularly political sensitive ones, based on their partisan loyalties. It presents a novel method to isolate the raw partisan motivations of judges and identifies their partisan loyalty, as opposed to their ideology, by studying decisions in a special category of cases almost entirely about partisan loyalty — candidate-litigated election disputes. The Article finds that Republican judges display greater partisan loyalty than Democratic judges in election cases where ideology is not a significant consideration. This result is not a function of selection methods, with both elected and appointed judges behaving similarly, but it is partially a function of party campaign finance for elected Republican judges, with party loyalty increasing with party money received. However, the effect of party campaign finance disappears for more visible election cases and largely disappears for retiring judges in their final term. What is more, partisan loyalty is reduced when state supreme court elections have recently featured more campaign attack advertising. These findings give reason to re-think judicial resolution of election disputes that require impartial, nonpartisan settlement and offer new insight into judicial partisanship as a more general matter.

Partisan Justice: How Campaign Money Politicizes Judicial Decisionmaking in Election Cases

Source: Joanna M. Shepherd and Michael S. Kang, American Constitution Society, 2016

From the press release:
A new study by independent researchers at Emory Law School finds that the upward spiral of big money fundraising and aggressive politics in state judicial elections pressures judges to become partisan actors who favor their own party in deciding election disputes. Bush v. Gore is by far the most famous of this kind of election case, but state courts decide many similar cases every year, regularly determining who wields power at the state and local level. State judges are under enormous political pressure to join in party-based fundraising and campaign networks to survive what has become a fiercely competitive electoral environment. Analyzing a new dataset of cases from 2005 to 2014, Partisan Justice finds that state court judges are systematically biased by these types of campaign finance and re-election influences to help their party’s candidates win office and favor their party’s interests in election disputes. It provides the first systematic evidence of the hidden influence of raw partisanship and party campaign finance on judicial decision-making in these election disputes.

Especially troubling is that here is little reason to believe that partisanship influences judges only in election cases. If judges are influenced, consciously or not, by party loyalty in election cases, they are likely tempted to do so in other types of cases as well, even if it is methodologically difficult to prove the role partisanship plays. The study, titled Partisan Justice, likely exposes just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Partisan Justice Principal Findings:
Judges favor litigants from their own party in head-to-head cases. …..
Campaign finance exacerbates partisan behavior. …..
Judges are less likely to be partisan when they no longer need to run for office. …..
The problem of partisan decision making is arguably getting worse over time. …..
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