Initiative Campaigns Could Save Unions and Obama in Ohio in 2012

NWisconsin Budgetew Orleans In a wild case of unintended consequences the current Republican attack on unions in New Jersey, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio could end up insuring the re-election of President Obama and possibly save public sector unionism at the same time though like all political struggles it would be a high stakes gamble.

How?  We could do this by upping the ante and putting protection of collective bargaining on the 2012 ballot with the Presidential election in Ohio, perhaps still the most critical of all battleground states.

Wisconsin has the right of recall and this is being engaged currently by unions and others in reaction to Governor Scott Walker’s moves to eviscerate public sector worker collective bargaining rights.  This was the successful strategy in California several years ago fueled by Congressman Darrell Issa’s resources which dislodged Governor Gray Davis within two years of his election and then replacing him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Wisconsin does not have a initiative and referendum procedure at the state level, so despite positive opinion polls in the state currently to protect bargaining there is no way to get there from here.  Neither New Jersey nor Indiana allow statewide initiatives and referenda, though about 20% of New Jersey’s local jurisdictions do so depending on the map this could be an opportunity to construct a tactical and strategic bulwark against some of the more draconian measures being proposed by Governor Christie there.

Were protections for union workers on the ballot in Ohio in 2012 there is no question it would energize the low-and-moderate income base, and this was certainly in evidence several years ago when ACORN and allies moved to put an increase in the minimum wage on the ballot there.  A revitalized labor movement in Ohio aligned with Obama there could make a huge difference in securing his re-election.  Tactical protective initiatives in Missouri, Nevada, Washington, and similar states that are important in the Obama column could also be important, and in several of these states workers are desperate for more protections.

There are two problems.  First, it takes a huge effort to put a measure on the ballot, mount the campaign, and hang on for the victory more than 18 months from now with the same fervor labor is showing today, even though now is the absolute perfect time to be preparing for just such efforts.  Secondly, Ohio is one of the few states that allow off-year initiatives, and given the current assault there are undoubtedly many pushing an immediate effort to place the measure on the ballot in Ohio for the fall of 2011.

A 2011 effort – and victory – might also break well for both labor and Obama if it finally proved again that these were fighting times and we had the will and way to win.  The residue of such a struggle and success might embed deeply enough to secure deeper participation in Ohio and still put Ohio in the best place for a union future and an Obama second term.

Either way these are not times for holding your cards, but demand laying down big bets while it’s still possible and it’s we are still a player in the game.

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Paul Revere and Darrell Issa: Two if By See!

Paul-Revere-723638 New Orleans This is a gentle reminder to my friends among the Tea-people.  History is a funny thing, comrades, in case you missed this part of high school, it’s based on facts, rather than opinions and in fact you need to base your opinions on facts.

I am reminded of this in looking at the daily screeds among the right wing, professional blogging class.  This is no chattering class, but more of a shouting mass that has to somehow push some kind of garbage out by the curb of the internet highway, sometimes several times per day.  A popular theme over the last week involving yours truly has been to comment on my warning to all that would listen that Congressman Darrell Issa’s elevation to the head of the House Investigations’ Committee would be bad news for anyone who still believes in freedom of association and freedom of speech.

Although it looks like I might qualify as a soothsayer by the right’s lights, since Issa immediately ran his mouth off about wanting to investigate ACORN as high on his list in order to “keep anything like” such an organization ever being organized again, which seemed more to me like a preemptive strike against all things progressive rather than a real “investigation” of any sort.  I wasn’t alone for long either since an editorial in the Times laid out the same concern and a handicapper in last Sunday’s op-ed page on the Times placed an ACORN investigation, particularly of the ACORN Housing Corporation and its programs over the years, to “show” in 3rd place on the most likely list.

All of which brings me back to the lesson in history or legend of the great Paul Revere’s ride warning “that the British were coming” after the real Tea Party in Boston Harbor.  As every school child knows, as Revere rode at night through Concord and Lexington spreading the warning, the watchwords were “One if by land, and two if by sea,” giving the lantern signals for preparation to citizens throughout the land.

Revere’s ride was a warning, not a retreat in fear.  Look it up.

Continue reading “Paul Revere and Darrell Issa: Two if By See!”

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