September 6, 2011
Labor Day has come and gone, but the real battle over whether workers are actually honored and valued in Ohio will be decided on Election Day in November. To understand what’s at stake, one must begin with the concept of American exceptionalism — the notion that America has its own unique political ideology embracing individualism and entrepreneurship.
The reality is that what makes America different from other western European democracies is simply its lack of a mass Labor Party or a Democratic Socialist Party. The Democratic Party is arguably the second most pro-corporate party in the western world, and President Barack Obama reminds us of this daily. Obama’s numbers have hit record lows with only 26% of the population having any faith in his economic policies.
In a time that cried out for infrastructure development and large scale jobs programs, Obama instead spent his political capital and three quarters of a trillion dollars in taxpayers’ capital bailing out the financial corporations that had wrecked the system and the large corporations known for investing in machines and people overseas, not American workers.
Only the Republican Party, captured by an unnatural coalition of Christian zealots and corporatists are more anti-labor. Thus, it is no surprise in the Buckeye State, when one of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing populist mouthpieces John Kasich, seized control of the governor’s office and immediately followed the corporatist policies championed by Mussolini in Italy.
Kasich’s agenda of destroying the public sector unions embodied in Senate Bill 5, hides a deeper philosophical contempt for ordinary working people. Kasich has spent his whole life serving wealthy and powerful men at the expense of those who labor.
First, as a young college student in the 70s, Kasich came to prominence in Ohio by becoming one of Nixon’s squeaky-clean campaign-prop youth. After his stint in Nixon’s youth corp, he managed to get himself elected to Congress in 1992 after tying his campaign to the so-called Messiah, Rev. Moon, who had been linked at the time to the Korean CIA.
After leaving Congress, Kasich threw in with the hate-monger and illegal hacker extraordinaire Murdoch and his News Corp. The agenda of his three mentors — Nixon, Moon and Murdoch — has always been to destroy labor in the United States. All three have been masters of promoting so-called wedge issues to divide American working people along race, ethnic, and religious lines in order to deliver more power to a small group of their wealthy backers and friends.
In the fantasy world of America, still taught by mainstream political scientists, we live in a “pluralist” society where people make their political voices heard by joining groups. This concept developed in the 1950s by noted political scientist Robert Dahl. Like economist Charles Lindbloom, Dahl initially argued that the 50s corporations were counterbalanced by organized labor. This “countervailing power” created a certain equilibrium in American power.
As the U.S.-based transnational corporations grew larger and more global in the 1970s and union membership declined dramatically, Dahl began to rethink his political theory in a series of books. At the beginning of the 21st century, Dahl published “How democratic is the American Constitution?” arguing that the Constitution is far less democratic than we openly debate. His realization that two corporate political parties is simply one more than a fascist dictatorship, by that time, was dawning on the current remaining political science theorists.
So, as the major theorists of pluralism bemoan the rise of transnational corporate power and the decline of labor, Kasich’s attempt to squash in the former industrial state of Ohio is arguably the most important issue on the ballot this November in the United States.
If Kasich succeeds in destroying the public unions in Ohio, he will effectively destroy the last vestiges of organizations that allowed people who work for a wage or salary to actively participate in Ohio politics. With the destruction of the unions comes the new 21st century power slogan and sound bite fascism, where the population will be pitted against each other – new immigrant against old, Christians against Muslims, public workers with pensions against private workers whose pensions were looted or denied by corporations – while Kasich’s friends will get richer.
To honor labor in the aftermath of Labor Day, workers who value democracy must campaign and say no on Issue 2, the repeal of SB 5. But, beyond that, they need to develop new political organizations to express their discontent with the right-wing corporate Republican Party and their junior partners, the Democrats.
Bob Fitrakis is the author of The Idea of Democratic Socialism in America and the Decline of the Socialist Party a book of political theory on American exceptionalism.