Unions: More Relevant than Ever

I'm pleased to announce that a representative from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will be posting every Monday on MyDD until the election. We've noted on MyDD that on a practical level, unions are possibly the most critical piece of the progressive movement, and we're hoping that over the next few years the netroots and the union movement can work together to learn from each other and become stronger. The Teamsters will also be sponsoring Breaking Blue until the election, which will help keep MyDD running as traffic goes up. The Teamsters are going to try to give you a sense of the basics of unions and their political activity, which is something I wasn't aware of until a few years ago. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this critical piece of the Democratic party. Welcome, and enjoy. -- Matt

When FDR launched the New Deal and pulled millions of families out of poverty, labor unions were there to aid his cause.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the fight for Civil Rights, union men and women were by his side.

When Robert F. Kennedy went on his crusade to help the plight of migrant farm workers in the Central California valley, he found inspiration in a union man: Cesar Chavez.

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Personal Responsibility

One of the more common conservative insults hurled at liberals is that people like me don't believe in personal responsibility.  Now, there's no direct evidence to support this claim -- nobody that I've ever heard of has ever said "I oppose personal responsibility" or any such nonsense.  So their conclusion that this is what we believe comes from indirect "evidence," primarily the evidence (or at least the argument) comes from liberal support for welfare programs for the poor.  The argument usually goes something like this: "Welfare programs discourage personal responsibility and since liberals support those programs, then they oppose personal responsibility." This is an incredibly flawed argument for many reasons:

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Guerrilla Vlogger: AFL-CIO hosts John Edwards in Manchester, NH with oreos

"LABOR UNIONS are more than just 'the folks who brought you the weekend,' as the bumper stickers say. A union contract may be the best bulwark against the widening income gap afflicting America even as worker productivity climbs."

-- Boston Globe Editorial September 4, 2006

On Monday I was able to attend the annual NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast held at the Chateau Restaurant in Manchester, NH. It was quite a large turn out, I'd say 500 and maybe more. Most of the people that I talked to were happy to be there to see Edwards, represent their crew and have a great time. And most of them were concerned about the possible Verizon sale that could affect thousands of jobs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The story that I heard over and over is that unions are getting weaker because their numbers continue to decline. NH-erites that I spoke to on Monday were fairly upbeat and positive about their local union, but union participation among American workers has steadily declined in the past 30 years. So why fewer unions and union members? Well may you ask...

Cross-posted at DailyKos

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Constructive Criticism of John Edwards's Rhetoric

Crossposted at DailyKos and Street Prophets

John Edwards is trying to convince America that we can end poverty.  The fact that he is serious about this goal - and that he is making it the centerpiece of his likely presidential run - shows that he understands exactly what it means to be a Democratic leader - and that he has the potential to become one of our country's greatest leaders.

It's with that great potential in mind that I think it's very important to consider some constructive criticism of his rhetoric.  I'm focusing on his recent National Press Club speech which centered on his anti-poverty theme. (His prepared speech is here; audio of speech, here.)

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Vlog: Patriotism for something more than War

cross-posted at daily kos: Vlog: Patriotism for something more than War

On Friday I flew from Boston to Des Moines to vlog an Edwards speech in Waukee, Iowa. I'm quickly getting addicted to the thrill of citizen journalism. Edwards is known for his domestic policy orientation, but on this Friday night Edwards chose to focus his remarks on America's role in the world.

Edwards is clearly talking about how his anti-poverty crusade, based on a new sense of American patriotism and moral values, are an essential ingredient to our foreign policy. His thinking on American leadership in the world is inextricably linked to his strong belief in community, patriotism and morality that we need to demonstrate through our actions here at home and abroad.

Follow me below the fold for the video of Edwards and the interviews I did on a warm and breezy Friday night in a small Iowa town when all of us in the school gym were thinking about the world outside, far outside.

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