Stewart Acuff

Nov 8

Our Beautiful Electoral Victory!

The second morning from our beautiful electoral victory – don’t know which morning is sweeter – yesterday when I loved the huge victory, but was a sleep deprived zombie, or today with some sleep and the deepening understanding of how significant victory was.

The magnitude of our victory is reflected in the total of our victory in the US Senate. With more than twice as many seats to hold onto as the Republicans, the Democrats held onto, or newly won, enough seats to hold the Senate. Some of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators won: Claire McKaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, Bill Nelson in Florida, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. And we picked up seats we didn’t expect to like Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

The Republican Party cannot win with tired old, mean white people. America is changing. We are younger, darker, more accepting of those different from us. Plus, we know it was the Financial Elite and Wall St. who all but destroyed our economy and the world’s economy. And we trusted a man who wears his values on his sleeve to guide us through this economic crisis rather than a money-changer, money manipulator, and job killer who believes me and 47% of other Americans are louts, sorry, no ‘count, worthless pieces of human detritus. We believe in ourselves.

But Tuesday’s huge victory will not by itself solve America’s greatest problems, the greatest of which is wage and income inequality.

- 35 years of wage inequality has meant less buying power and consumer demand leaving us mired in our economic crisis (see my book coauthored by Dr. Levins called Getting America Back to Work. I really encourage you to read this book!)

- Family values and unity are undercut and undermined by wages that won’t pay the bills.

- Parents can’t provide for their families.

- We have no financial security

- Unions – the most powerful institution protecting our democracy are weakened

- We believe that our financial problems are our own fault and that we are on our own

- Too many non-union workers resent unions and union members for having all they don’t.

- The financial security of our seniors are threatened by potential changes in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

So what do we do? And what other mega issues will not be addressed just by the election? We will use this space in the next few months to flesh out an agenda for real change – change only WE can bring about, but please allow me to address two immediate priorities:

- We have to get off defense and go on offense to protect seniors’ living standards. We must fight immediately to stop any cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In part, that means demanding Medicare for all of us so that we get national healthcare – and the more people who are enrolled the stronger the constituency for support for it.

- We have to answer YES to every worker who wants to fight. We have aid their organizing and be open to forms of organization that make sense and can strengthen the fight.

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Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.

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