by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
The 2012 Elections: Is a Multi-Racial Working-Class Coalition Still Possible?
Friday's labor breakfast panel asked: Is a multi-racial working class coalition still possible? Moderator Dorian Warren, a professor of political science at Columbia, framed the discussion in terms of America's enduring racial divide; the Baby Boomers vs. the Milennials; the role of money in politics; and the electoral wildcard of the Occupy Movement.
Political scientist Ruy Teixeira explained that Obama won 80% of the non-white vote in 2008, but lost the white working class by 21 points. Journalist Thomas Edsall argued that the current Democratic coalition is strong enough to put the Democrats back into office, but that the Dems need to win more white working class votes in order to credibly claim to represent the average working person.
AFL-CIO official Julie Greene described the AFL-CIO's strategy going into 2012: Building infrastructure to mobilize voters and protect the electorate from voter disenfranchisement. Minority voters are most likely to be disenfranchised by voter ID laws and other Republican-backed initiatives to make voting more difficult. Massive minority turnout helped put Obama over the top in 2008 and that surge did not go unnoticed by the other side, Greene said. Voter ID laws were introduced in all but three states. She estimated that 5 million people were disenfranchised across the 6 states that enacted voter ID laws.
The panel was sponsored by the Murphy Institute, CUNY, and the Sidney Hillman Foundation.
[Photo credit: Lindsay Beyerstein, all rights reserved.]