Randi Weingarten’s comments below are an insult to the people who are increasingly making their will known through supporting candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders and the ideals that he represents. And that is a shame because Labor leaders are supposed to be courageous and visionary, not “pragmatic” (aka “gutless”) and myopic.
Consider for a moment the life and work of the relatively conservative Labor activist Samuel Gompers. Gompers, who championed American style Labor practices and collective bargaining, still staunchly and openly criticized the bankers and other Capitalists in the 1890s during a period of massive inequality. Gompers asked: ““Why should the wealth of the country be stored in banks and elevators while the idle workman wanders homeless about the streets and the idle loafers who hoard the gold only to spend it on riotous living are rolling about in fine carriages from which they look out on peaceful meetings and call them riots?”
Gompers asked this question because the 1890s were a bad time for working class people and inequality was massive– just the way things are now for us working class people in 2016. Bernie Sanders asks this question too, just like our Labor forefather Samuel Gompers did.
In fact it’s been noted frequently that inequality in the United States is **worse** than it was in the 1890s. Nevertheless, in striking contrast to Randi’s paternal “pragmatism”, late 19th century Labor, and other progressive leaders, chose vision and courage over “pragmatism” and led our nation out of those desperate times. How did they do it? I couldn’t possibility outline all of the ways that activists changed the political landscape but I can tell you that 5 Constitutional Amendments (Articles 16-19) were passed during this period of activism called the Progressive Era (1890 to 1920). 5 Constitutional amendments passed seems like a Revolution to me and I didn’t have to falsely claim that the only Revolutionary change we’ve had in America led to the Civil War — what nonsense! Anyway, 5 Constitutional Amendments being passed is a far cry away from the “pragmatism” that the leader of one of the largest teacher’s Unions in America is dictating and campaigning for…
Randi should know this history, understand the times we live in, and lead us into our future instead of “pragmatically” mandating for us more of the same old broken economy that’s led to a massive decline in our movement.
“The difference between Sanders and Clinton is a matter of degree more than any fundamental ideological disagreement. They both advocate moving in the same direction, but by different methods. Bernie Sanders says he will bring about a political revolution to make his dreams of a democratic socialist society come true, which seems an unlikely proposition given that the GOP is sure to control one house of Congress and may well control both. Hillary Clinton advocates a pragmatic approach: protecting the progressive gains won under the Obama administration, taking what new gains may be possible in a divided government and setting the political table to back for more later.
Historically, it is this latter approach that has produced change. In any democratic system of government, progress is incremental. Only one time in our history as a nation have we seen such sweeping ideological change at a fundamental level happen in a brief span of time, and that change came at the price of five years of bloody civil war and some 500,000 deaths”