Good Friday Morning, especially those of you who survived the brawl from the Democratic debate in Nevada. If you missed it, Democrats took the gloves off and went at each other with few restrictions. The lone limit of the night appeared to be Bernie Sanders, with only Pete Buttigieg taking the occasional swipe at the geriatric socialist. Elizabeth Warren, who had pitched herself as an uniter of the party, spent her evening stabbing everyone in the back.
Don’t believe me? Here’s John Podhoretz in the NYPost:
Oh, was it glorious — the sheer raging hostility spraying across the stage as every campaign besides the Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg bids faces the desperate possibility that each might fade into the woodwork against the Bernie surge and the Bloomberg billions.
It’s not that the gloves were off. No, my friends, everybody was wearing steel-tipped boots and going right for the crotch. Those weren’t snowflakes. They were nunchucks.
He’s right. It was amazing. My predictions for the Nevada caucuses are up on the podcast this week. I thought about modifying them after the debate, but I’m going to stick with my podcast predictions. Somewhere between 36,000-40,000 people voted in the Nevada Caucuses before the debate took place, which is roughly 35% of the expected overall turnout. The debate might not have mattered all that much for the caucuses.
This week I’m going to hit on a topic that I’ve noticed developing in the Democratic primaries: Unions are very divided over the direction of the Democratic Party. They’re so divided that it’s opening up a way for Donald Trump to continue taking them away from Democrats. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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This week on the show, host Daniel Vaughan talks through the New Hampshire Democratic primaries and what to look at as we go forward to Nevada. Quick hits cover Trump’s appearance at the Daytona 500, Michael Avenatti goes to jail, and a clip of Michael Bloomberg talking about how to reduce healthcare costs.
Post-New Hampshire, what happened to Elizabeth Warren?
Democrats are so focused and split on who is most electable. They’re letting a guy with a small base win the nomination.
Unions split on healthcare and Democratic Socialism
In many respects, it is strange to focus on unions. For several decades now, unions have lost power as fewer people join them. In the 1980s, union membership stood at 1 in 5 Americans, around 20% of the workforce. That number was down from the mid-20th century when union membership hit highs of 30% during the 40s and 50s. Today, though, union membership has continued a yearly decline and sits at 10% or 1 in 10 American employees.
But like many things in our culture, while overall union membership is going, unions still hold a durable power. Teachers unions, for example, still have considerable power, particularly in the Democratic Party. Firefighter and police unions and the SEIU also show continued staying power.
In the Nevada Democratic caucus, the most reliable voting bloc is the Culinary Union. That union made waves over the past couple of weeks as they made it known they don’t like Bernie Sanders Medicare for All plan. Many of these unions have scored significant victories for their employees on negotiating robust healthcare plans, and in the Culinary Union’s case, they’ve even built healthcare centers for their employees.
Medicare for All would wipe out all that work. Socialized medicine means the government seizes total control of the entire healthcare industry and controls every aspect of it. Health insurance is gone. Private healthcare facilities are gone. And all the work of unions that built up their healthcare offerings is also gone.
Political divisions in unions
Politico had a report out this week of the divisions in the party. I could quote the entire thing because they got statements from state and national unions around the country. But this segment gives you a good flavor of what’s happening:
“Medicare for All” is roiling labor unions across the country, threatening to divide a critical part of the Democratic base ahead of several major presidential primaries.
In union-heavy primary states like California, New York, and Michigan, the fight over single-payer health care is fracturing organized labor, sometimes pitting unions against Democratic candidates that vie for their support.
“It’s a discussion at every single bargaining table, in every single union shop, every single time it’s open enrollment and people see their costs going up,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a vocal single-payer advocate and one of a number of union officials who spoke to the divide.
The rift surfaced last week, when the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union declined to endorse any Democrat in this week’s Nevada caucuses after slamming Bernie Sanders’ health plan as a threat to the hard-won private health plans that they negotiated at the bargaining table. But the conflict extends well beyond Nevada.
On one side of the divide are more liberal unions like the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union, which argue that leaving health benefits to the government could free unions to refocus collective bargaining on wages and working conditions. On the other side are more conservative unions like the International Association of Fire Fighters and New York’s Building & Construction Trades Council, which don’t trust the government to create a health plan as good as what their members enjoy now.
Politico headlined the story as a “civil war” in the labor movement. Medicare for All would destroy any healthcare plan or care that unions have worked to provide for members.
In short, democratic-socialists are polarizing the party, particularly unions. If you provide something of value to your members, and you’ve worked hard for that, your union is probably more apt to look at Sanders with healthy skepticism. Union leadership is especially in this boat because they want to prove that they have a purpose and reason for existing, and Bernie Sanders is challenging that very concept.
Democratic-socialists don’t care…
So what are Bernie Sanders and his friends doing to answer that or quell fears? Not much. Current Affairs published a piece saying that even while these unions have won hard-fought victories, that the coverage only covers those workers and no one else. They say that the unions are being too selfish; they need to get over it and accept losing a good thing for a potential replacement plan for everyone.
Bernie Sanders and his M4A friends are taking the technocratic stance: we know what is better for not just you, but everyone, so give up your great plans so we can cover everyone.
That’s not a winning argument.
I know it doesn’t work because I’ve seen similar arguments fail in other areas. I’ve got a column coming out on Friday, talking about how Bernie Sanders was unable to defeat similar concerns on his plan to fix climate change. Check out the following exchange from the Nevada debate involving NBC Moderator Chuck Todd and Bernie Sanders.
CHUCK TODD: We’re going to stick to this topic. But, Senator Sanders, I’m going to move to fracking. You want a total ban on natural gas extraction, fracking, in the next five years. The industry, obviously, supports a lot of jobs around the country, including thousands in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
One union official there told the New York Times, quote, “If we end up with a Democratic candidate that supports a fracking ban, I’m going to tell my members that either you don’t vote or you vote for the other guy.” What do you tell these workers, it’s supporting a big industry right now, sir?
BERNIE SANDERS: What I tell these workers is that the scientists are telling us that if we don’t act incredibly boldly within the next six, seven years, there will be irreparable damage done not just in Nevada, not just to Vermont or Massachusetts, but to the entire world.
Joe said it right: This is an existential threat. You know what that means, Chuck? That means we’re fighting for the future of this planet.
And the Green New Deal that I support, by the way, will create up to 20 million good-paying jobs as we move our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. This is a moral issue, my friends. We have to take the responsibility of making sure that the planet we leave our children and grandchildren is a planet that is healthy and habitable. That is more important than the profits of the fossil fuel industry.
Todd is asking Bernie what he’d tell people who would lose jobs and careers if we follow Bernie’s revolution. Sanders completely tosses those concerns to the side, saying that the problem is more significant than those people, and we need to fix the bigger problem. If those people lose jobs, then so be it. He throws “the green new deal” in his answer as a catch-all out to say he’d care for him, but the last sentence gives away the plot.
Sanders focuses on “profits of the fossil fuel industry,” but the question is about blue-collar workers in that industry who would be unemployed and out of a career. If you’re a union worker, you understand that the “profits of the fuel industry” means your job and career are on the chopping block. Sanders doesn’t have an answer and doesn’t care. It’s a similar answer to these union employees who don’t want to give up their gold-standard healthcare plans to Bernie Sanders-style Medicare-for-All.
Utilitarianism rules all
Democratic-socialists are using a moral argument to answer all these questions. They’re asserting that the needs of the many outrank the needs of the few. If you’re part of the few — then to hell with you. They claim their plans will cover people falling through the cracks — something that’s untrue of any nation that’s ever tried their ideas.
They aren’t arguing policy, science, or anything else: it’s pure morality. Socialism is the religion that will solve all our problems, and anyone who opposes it isn’t just wrong from a policy standpoint — they’re wrong because they’ve chosen a moral wrong. We don’t know the full reasons listed. Still, it shouldn’t be shocking that a Bernie Sanders supporter was the one who shot up a baseball field, severely injuring Republican Representative Steve Scalise. Democratic-socialism has more in common with religion than it does politics, which allows adherents to take more extreme actions on behalf of the new “god” driving their morality.
I don’t mind morality in politics. I’d assert all laws are some form of morality on some level. But a political movement that gets made into a moral religion is different. There’s no God or all-knowing being who centers the faith. Only the adherents and their socialist goals are the centers of everything, and anyone who opposes that isn’t just a political opposite — they’re morally wrong and an enemy.
Unions are experiencing the front end of this debate. They’re getting told to give up the victories they’ve won for the few (their members), for the many (the rest of the country). That’s a lot to ask from organizations designed to do one thing: represent workers before specific companies.
The political impact…
Watching this entire scenario play out, I can’t help but wonder the political implications. Unions have long been the strongholds of the Democratic Party. You can go back in history and read about how unions functioned as part of the political machines that made sure certain parties maintained power.
The conservative position on this is pretty simple: private-sector unions are groups of private individuals organized around the issue of forming contracts between employees and employers. As long as both parties enter into these agreements in good faith and without fraud or abuse, unions can function quite well in a conservative society that encourages private associations. Unions have had a positive impact on our culture in promoting civic virtue and healthy communities.
If the Democratic Party is going to go full-on into socialism, it’s an area where Donald Trump’s version of the Republican Party can reach out and break off party of unions and get them to vote for him. He’s not going to touch their union victories — in fact, he’d enjoy celebrating those victories with them. He wants those manufacturing jobs back in America, and so do unions.
It’s something to watch as 2020 continues. How far will Democrats allow the democratic-socialism project to extend into the party? Similar movements have destroyed the main left-of-center parties in Australia (see the 2019 climate election) and United Kingdom (Brexit). If Democrats follow this same path, Republicans will stand to benefit politically.
Links of the week
Knives Out: A Glorious Wrestlemania of a Democratic Debate – Jim Geraghty, National Review
Nevada Democratic debate was the greatest debate in human history – John Podhoretz, NYPost
Stop Lying About Our Sons – Erika Sanzi
Chris Murphy Is a Massive Hypocrite on Iran – David Harsanyi, National Review
The Architecture of Owning the Libs: What’s really going on with that draft executive order about federal buildings. – Sherri and Robert Tracinski, The Dispatch
Democrat Pete Buttigieg overstated pledges of support from black leaders, public figures: Polls show he faces an ongoing challenge finding support from voters of color. – Briana Stewart and Beatrice Peterson, ABC News
Evidence That Conservative Students Really Do Self-Censor: Is free speech imperiled on American college campuses? – Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
Obama: ‘I Have No Memory Of Anyone Named Joe Biden’ – The Babylon Bee
MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MA — While lounging about in his seaside mansion Tuesday, former President Barack Obama was asked whether he supported Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
“Sorry, who?” Obama responded, sipping a strawberry daiquiri brought to him by his servants. “Hmmm… Biden, Biden… not ringing any bells.”
Thanks for reading!