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

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Negin Owliaei
Toys R Us May be Gone, But Its Workers’ Struggle Continues
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail