Get Thou to the Other Party!
Thomas Schmeling and Pat Crowley have been engaged in an interesting conversation that began when a commenter told Crowley the following:
I’m a democrat and I think the state employees unions are one of the biggest problems with the state at the moment. Public employees paid by tax dollars should not be union (emergency workers and possibly even teachers are an exception, though I have serious issues with the teachers unions).
then your not a democrat
there is another party for you, it is called republican. They need your help. Feel free to join them
Schmeling, being a man of great integrity (albeit often applied toward erroneous ends, in my opinion), took exception to that push toward the door, and conversation continued, including this from Crowley’s boss at the National Education Association in Rhode Island, Bob Walsh:
There may be room to argue about the various stands and positions for which unions may advocate, but if you are arguing against the very right of unions to exist, public or private, then you are not a Democrat.
It is, and should be, a threshold issue – a litmus test – an entrance exam.
To begin with, let’s note the sliding measure. Even I support the “right of unions to exist” as a self-standing proposition. I also support people’s right to hold any particular job without belonging to a union — that is, I oppose unions’ claimed right to maintain monopolies of significant swaths of the employment landscape. Even in the public sector, unions would be tolerable if they had to compete — collectively — with an array of talented and motivated individuals who are more flexible in their demands and more willing to acknowledge the twists and turns of economic reality.
Of course, it’s clearly in the financial interest of the NEA’s well-remunerated executives to impose such a litmus test. But it’s also part of the left/Democrat scheme that has performed such wonders in Rhode Island. Democrat partisans pull together a coalition of interest groups that won’t stray from the party even if they disagree on virtually every other aspect of the platform. Indeed, considering unions and the welfare industry, one could say that the party has created interest groups. So, a socially conservative state worker votes for Democrats to preserve his employment package. A recipient of public assistance (and the army of workers who administer it) does likewise. Throw in the blue-at-birth Democrats and the left-wing ideologues.
There’s nothing wrong with coalition building, but the strategy is now expanding beyond the point at which various constituencies vote together and then encourage elected officials in their own ways. Consider this tidbit that I came across while developing this post (emphasis added):
Having been out-fundraised by more than 5-to-1 this month in large donations, supporters of a California constitutional marriage amendment are warning they will lose on Election Day unless they receive a heavy influx of donations in the next week.
Thanks mostly to money from Hollywood, homosexual activist groups and the California Teachers Union, opponents of Proposition 8 have raised $11.3 million this month, supporters $2.3 million, according to data on the California secretary of state’s website. This week alone, from Sunday through Thursday (Oct. 19-23), opponents raised $3 million to supporters’ $844,000. The aforementioned state data includes only donations of $1,000 or more.
The union’s leadership, in other words, is not merely supporting candidates who uphold its members’ interests; it’s behaving as an ideological action group. Money siphoned from the public, crouched behind the education of children, is directed toward another group’s “litmus test.”
I don’t know where the anonymous RI Democrat who sparked Crowley’s ire stands on any particular issue, but all Rhode Islanders should keep an eye out for evidence of this chain of links, because it’s the very thing that’s strangling the state. Furthermore, members of the various Democrat constituencies should have no illusion about the cost of being sated. Your union perks also cost the state in welfare and in increasingly liberal public policy. Your liberal predilections empower the unions to create rigid rules preventing the state from salvaging its collapsing education system.
If a particular item is part of the “entrance exam,” then your group and party leadership will feel no compunction about assuming that you support it.