The multiple crises of global economic meltdown, climate change and challenges to democracy create an opportunity for the union movement to reclaim its rightful place in society as the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves, says author William Greider.
This is one of those moments when the labor movement needs to take a deep breath and reclaim its role as the voice of free, democratic discussion. It’s time for labor to dream bigger dreams.
Speaking to a crowd of about 200 yesterday evening at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., Greider said our current economic woes are not over and the crisis runs deeper than just the financial meltdown. In his new book, Come Home, America (available from The Union Shop OnlineTM here), Greider describes our nation as “in the midst of a profound and frightening transformation, tantamount to an aging person losing weight and muscle.”
He urged working people and their unions to jump into the discussion of the nation’s future in a large way. Saying it is time for the union movement to “lay down markers” and tell the Democrats in Congress and the White House that when they meet the marks, we are with them and when they don’t, we can’t support them.
It’s time to find out whose side the Democrats are on.
Greider, a prominent political journalist and author, has been a reporter for more than 35 years for newspapers, magazines and on television. Over the past two decades, he has challenged mainstream thinking on economics. Last night, he noted how the ongoing economic meltdown demonstrates what working people have been saying for years—an economy built on what’s good for Big Business is not good for the country as a whole.
Not only has giving a free rein to Big Business wreaked havoc on our economy but, combined with an arrogant, militaristic view of the world, it has threatened the very democracy that is the foundation of our country, he says.
Add to that the impact of climate change and the inevitable depletion of oil reserves and it’s clear we are about to undergo a major shift in policy and lifestyles.
In her introduction of Greider, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker quoted from Come Home, America, saying:
Our problem was made in America, not in foreign nations. It will not be resolved unless and until the nation lets go of false pride, faces reality and decides to change itself. In Europe and Asia, defending society means not being willing to throw people over the side. Profit making is important, but it should not trump society.
Holt Baker said she was personally moved by Greider’s suggestion that democratic conversations do not start with presidential campaigns or issues or abstract assessments of what is wrong with politics, but begin
when we start talking about ourselves, our lives and our circumstances with our family and friends who are willing to listen. There is much to discuss at our kitchen tables about our home America. At the end of those conversations, we will decide if we are a people entitled to power.
Greider’s appearance was co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the Campaign for America’s Future.