With Heavy Hearts But a Firm Resolve
by Boyd Young, PACE President
I write this article the day after the U.S. Supreme Court killed our hopes for a Gore/Lieberman Administration and rejected our democratic right for a full vote count in Florida. To be sure, if the hand count continued, Al Gore would be in the White House. Preliminary reports indicated that in the short time the counts resumed before the U.S. Supreme Court stay, Al Gore moved ahead in the election.
I believe it is not a mere coincidence that the U.S. Supreme Court then chose to intervene and stop the recount. I used to have faith that the judiciary was impartial and fair; I now believe the Court is merely an agent of the Republican Party. This Court—that believes so strongly in state's rights and self-rule—overturned the Florida Supreme Court's decision interpreting a Florida statute.
As one broadcaster put it, "They killed off Gore's candidacy with one swift stroke, and then used the rest of the decision to wipe the blood off the knife."
Mob rule also threatened our democracy in Florida. While the Republicans warned that the recount presented a Constitutional crisis that would bring violent demonstrations, the Democrats protested peacefully, and the Republicans used mob rule to steal the election. Threatened by angry Republican mobs (led by a member of Tom Delay's staff), Miami-Dade County stopped the recount process before Thanksgiving. If those recounts had continued, we would have a different President today.
For these reasons, today is a sad day for our democracy. Although many of us have heavy hearts, we also should be very proud of our truly awesome showing. Indeed, the only thing that stood between George Bush and the end zone on November 7th was organized labor. Together, we
distributed more than 14 million leaflets at union worksites
made 8 million phone calls to union households
registered 2.3 million new union household voters
sent more than 12 million pieces of literature to union homes
mobilized more than 100,000 union volunteers to get-out-the-vote
PACE instituted its first-ever political mobilization effort—PACEPower2000. We sent six mailings to our membership, direct mailed over 100,000 members in key states, created a political web site and put over 25 full-time staff out into the field.
Corporations still outspent organized labor 15-1. By contrast, one of the largest paper companies spent over 5 million dollars in campaign contributions alone. But our grassroots power matched their corporate dollars every step of the way.
Although union members are between 8 to 10% of the voting population, union households cast 26% of all votes. Sixty-three percent (63%) of all union members voted for Gore and 32% for Bush and union households as a whole voted 59% for Gore and 37% for Bush. This means two things: One, that there are still some union members we need to educate about Bush's anti-union agenda; and two, we as union members need to do a better job of talking with our families about politics.
One thing is clear: If union members had stayed home this year, Bush would have won a landslide victory—winning the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington and Iowa. It was also the union vote that gained four union friendly Senators, two House members, and elected eight union-endorsed Governors.
Some say that in the Presidential election, the loser will be the winner. I cannot take any comfort in that because the President controls appointments crucial to our future. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Organized labor exists because of legislation, and therefore it can be legislated out of existence. The judiciary — charged with interpreting those laws — also influence our existence. Make no mistake — the conservative U.S. Supreme Court decided who our 43rdPresident would be — not the voters. George Bush's appointments to the Courts and agencies like the NLRB will similarly affect our rights at work.
Now we must move forward, resolved in our agenda to make life better for working families. Will our charge be more difficult? Yes. But we also know that working family issues dominated the campaign. We will expect those candidates who were elected on these issues to deliver. We will remind those in power that taken together, the votes cast for all the Presidential candidates confirm that America desires a socially responsibly agenda rather than a conservative one. And we will remember this election in 2002.
From the PACEsetter - January/February 2001.