FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Patriotism and the Labor Movement

by DAVID MACARAY

“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
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail