Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Patriotism and the Labor Movement

“The greatest anti-poverty program ever invented was the labor union.”

–George Meany

There’s an undeniable truth which, if properly publicized, could make unions look pretty darn good even to those rabid Sarah Palin-Joe the Plumber fans out there.  Simply put:  Union workers tend to be wildly patriotic Americans.  Sometimes, they even go overboard in their patriotic love of country, going so far as to demand that that loyalty be reciprocated.

Given labor’s unabashed patriotism, especially in light of all the flag-waving, “country first” propaganda being circulated by the anti-union Republican party, it’s surprising that organized labor hasn’t responded with a splashy “pro-American” campaign of its own.  As corny and “beneath their dignity” as that idea might initially appear, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win should seriously consider it.

They should offer this little quiz.  They should ask our citizens who’s the more “patriotic” American:

*  The investment banker who shelters money in off-shore accounts to avoid paying his fair share of U.S. taxes, and cares nothing about how the country as a whole is doing, so long as he’s rolling in dough?

*  The business owner who ships his operation overseas in order to reap higher profits from lower labor costs, helping to put money in a foreign government’s coffers while, simultaneously, depriving hard-working Americans of their jobs?

*  The defense contractor who talks the talk, waves the American flag, and professes to put “country first,” but who cheats the American taxpayer by criminally overcharging for his services and products, all in the name of “Keeping America Strong”?

*  The politician who has allowed America’s infrastructure (its highways, waterways, and bridges) to deteriorate to alarming levels, all because he’d rather invest public money in Wall Street than in the mundane and less profitable enterprise of maintaining the upkeep of the United States?

*  Or the union member—the dues-paying man or woman—who works in this country, spends all of his money in this country, pays his fair share of taxes to this country, marches in parades celebrating the glory of this country, and wants nothing more than to keep this country as strong and proud as he or she remembers or imagines it?

Who’s the more patriotic American?

If one aspect of patriotism involves a willingness to perform national service, consider:  More union members have served in the military than have bankers, accountants, lawyers, professors, artists or professional politicians.  That’s a fact.

Perhaps the argument can be made that military service doesn’t really matter.  If that’s the case, if military service shouldn’t be seen as a noble endeavor, then fine, let’s have the politicians shut up about it.  But if it is considered a worthy national sacrifice, then let’s be clear about who it is who’s doing the actual sacrificing.

More than your entrepreneurs, corporate executives, or hedge fund managers, union workers intuitively recognize the importance of pulling together to make the country stronger.  They don’t engage in rhetoric about it, or pay lip service to it, all the while looking for ways to avoid it.  They actually do it.

Their patriotism isn’t the abstract or phony kind, the kind that exists “in principle.”  Scoff all you like at their naivete or gullibility or gushy sentimentality, but you cut open a union member’s arm, and it bleeds red, white and blue.

Organized labor needs to publicize this fact.  It needs to turn this whole “love of country” issue—which hypocritical Republicans are using to bludgeon the Democrats—into something that can benefit the unions.

Not only would portraying union workers as being America’s fiercest and most loyal patriots be an effective campaign device, it would have the additional virtue of being absolutely true.

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright and writer, was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail