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Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle –

Karl Rove’s (The Architect) masterful use of party partisanship is a political game that few in Washington can play. His plan was to build a permanent R Majority in the Federal Government. What he understood was that the U.S. has historically gravitated towards the center, with most citizens tilting right or left but not far from center! A few examples using labor legislation – In 1916 Congress passed the Keating–Owen Child Labor Act (left), the first national child labor bill. The American Plan of the 20’s (hard right), which deemed unions to be “un-American,” resulted in anti-union efforts of employers that decreased union membership and efficacy until the 1930s. The Norris Laguardia Act (left) passed in 1932. It banned yellow-dog contracts, barred the federal courts from issuing injunctions against nonviolent labor disputes, and created a positive right of noninterference by employers against workers joining trade unions.

More examples – The Wagner Act of 1935 (left), which greatly increased the authority of the federal government in industrial relations establishing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to execute this program and strengthened the organizing power of labor unions. The TaftHartley Act (right), which became law despite President Harry Truman’s (1945–1953) veto. Also known as the Labor-Management Relations Act, it passed Congress in1947 and established guidelines to correct unions’ unfair labor practices and to restrict the activities and power of labor unions.

For my Brothers and Sisters who want to see fully what our FOUNDERS did to get us to this point, here is an educational link that is a timeline of labor issues and events:

Notice how the activities of unions drop after the Federal Air Traffic Controllers began a nationwide strike. Most of the 13,000 striking controllers defied the back-to-work order and were dismissed by President Reagan on 5 August 1981. The union(s) then, in the 80’s, and continuing to NOW, have had NO sustained strategy unlike our FOUNDERS who knew how sustain pressure and win!

The point here is that Rove knew that by keeping all Republicans acting on sharp partisan votes, the perception that the Democrats are also a partisan party would emerge. We are talking about developing citizen partisanship in the extreme.

Turns out Rove was far too nice. His version of “extreme” was still “establishment Republican” and not really all that extreme. However, who was paying attention to this strategy was the Tea Party, which started in early 2009. The legislative arm of the Tea Party is the Freedom Caucus – funded by the Koch Brothers. Many of the most extreme Tea Party members were borne out of Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America in 1994. The Tea Partiers concluded that the Contract with America failed in part because the political partisanship wasn’t extreme enough.

Along with extreme partisanship that the Tea Party used in saying NO to both D’s and establishment R’s, they masterfully infused fear-based politics. So “primarying” establishment R’s and vetoing any legislation that is not 100% consistent with their narrow agenda is their MO!

Ironically, if the D’s had developed a similar/identical strategy, the U.S. would still be in the exact same position – HUGELY POLARIZED!


American politics, and even politics throughout the world, are in a state of devolution. We used to vote for a favored politician and his/her positions. That gave way to voting for the lesser of two evils. To what now has moved huge percentages of voters to flat out voting against a politician because of the alternative. This is pure fear-based politics on both sides. Forget who started what and what now exists, which is a full range of extreme rhetoric to flat out lying. Americans are expected to vote for positions that are extremes off the center, controlled by parties that refuse to build consensus or even compromise. Too bad NEITHER is not a choice on the ballot.

Our political environment is one of neighbor against neighbor, using hyperbole to get a super narrow agenda passed. Poll after poll measure positions that are increasingly opposite ends of the extreme. Nearly 50% disengagement of the electorate tells the story of the citizen voter. It’s fine with the extremes that ½ of our citizens sit it out, or in the alternative, they fan the flames of fear and discontentment – and they win! So, we end up with a government in the extreme either to the right or left, which is a true minority government.

Tolerance of each other IS NOT acceptance. But in this hyper-state we are told it is. Most issues that effect the average citizen have a consensus, compromise, or pragmatic solution available if the parties would work to achieve it. For the last decade or two, this has been nearly impossible because of political fear replacing integrity. We are now at a point of either/or in a country of realists who instinctively know that such dualistic thinking creates impossibilities in a nation of 340 million people with 40 religions and 140’ish nationalities.

And the Trades, whose members politically represent American voters probably better than any other group, have been sitting on the sidelines for approximately the same length of time. Why? Because of a strategy of concession and appeasement to get any crumbs they can get, along with the totally failed strategy of Value on Display!

The Trades have ceded their role as a MOVEMENT and as champions of workers. The trades have abandoned being a balance to organized capital. Capitalism works just fine, SO LONG AS THERE IS ORGANIZED LABOR. Subtract the latter and it is “Katy bar the door” in the U.S. and Canada.

The trades being absent in the fight for so long, and in fact, working with management, has helped the extremes take root. Organizing is taking management on – directly, and in some cases in a no-holds-barred fashion to force management to the table to come to a consensus or compromise. The trades and labor are that important. Workers’ rights, pay inequity, safety being transferred to the worker, building unsafe working conditions, limitations and destruction of benefits, collapsing market share and density numbers, which are all measurable, rest on the shoulders of current and recently former trades senior leadership abandoning the roles the FOUNDERS built!

When WORKERS’ pockets are full, and they see a balance of labor and management, they don’t fall for the extremes and talk in much more measured tones. We all benefit. The extremes, be they right or left, can go jump in the lake! When workers see lives collapsing around them, including those of their kids and other family, they become susceptible to fear.

Our International Presidents have settled for being a temp agency. Finding bodies and doing what they are told by management. The strategy of “HOPE” is an unproven strategy so hoping for infrastructure to change the trades lot has not worked out. The trades are in fact losing market share even in record years of construction. Similarly hoping that the millennial’s who have polled strongly in a pro-union direction are taking a flyer on joining the trades in any kind of numbers. This group are strong in their beliefs. As they mature as great activist will (our Founders) they will not want to be a part of “union” with old, stale and pale men leading them – not happening! A MOVEMENT is energy in an organic form. Knowing right and wrong, and the haves and have nots. Being a part of something grand and providing the balance of ORGANIZED workers to take on organized capital.

Instead of our internationals trolling FB for political discontentment, they should be aware of the huge groups of workers forming in social media forums around union principals. They have in fact wobbled jobs, and some big ones at that. And they are not only not calling us, they are on record of saying we are part of the problem with the concession and appeasement.

Is there some solidarity out there – small pockets, yes! However, it is very possible that a new trades movement will develop before long and jump right over us.

Put this Genie back in the bottle IP’s – because history is hard against you and will reflect it!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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