The 2016 presidential race – a marathon - some candidates starting slowly, saving themselves for a public relations sprint to the finish line. Key to victory is getting massive amounts of money to pay for glib TV ads insisting that the self interest of the voter is best served by a particular candidate. Is it democracy – is democracy even valued? One of the candidates, Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, refused to support the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, when he was removed by a military coup in 2009.
For labor it is a choice of the lesser evil. Both the Democrat and Republican candidates will probably support the Trans Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.) – a trade agreement that ignores the basic rights of workers. Of course Wall Street is all for it. The challenge for labor is to minimize the evil of the lesser evil.
U.S. Democracy is fundamentally flawed. Most people want immigration reform, but with our present system directed by wealthy oligarchs, such reform is unlikely. If given the chance, Latino worker citizens would vote the Wall Street puppets out of office. Income inequality is talked about but nothing of substance is presented as a solution. Labor as the voice in the work place on wages, safety or national politics is not presented as important. President Obama offered hope for E.F.C.A. (Employee Fair Trade Act) but nothing came of it. Of course it goes without saying – the workers in the Pacific nations of the pact certainly have no voice. Globalization of the economy means we work for a global common good.
Benevolent dictator, Pope Francis, has a different view. He cites ‘preferential option for the poor’ as a criterion for economic justice. The T.P.P. would not pass muster. The Pope insists on dialogue, but did his man, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, dialogue or preach to Manuel Zelaya before supporting the coup that ousted the president elected by the people? The resulting violence has sent a flood of children to the U.S. border.
Once again labors’ task is monumental. Questions on T.P.P., income inequality, immigration reform and E.F.C.A. must be constantly presented. Specific answers are needed not a smoothing over by expensive public relations experts.