By Jeff Johnson
Every four years leaders exhort us that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. I have said it myself.† But today I am not entirely convinced that this is true. However, what is certain to me is that the political choices in front of us could not be more clear. A question to ponder for another time is how could we have possibly have come to a time of such stark contrasts?
Mitt Romney and Rob McKenna are champions of the low political road. They espouse policies that Republicans have dreamed about for forty years – reduce the size of government, cut regulations for business, and weaken the voices of unions, women, senior citizens, students, immigrant workers, and the poor. For them the American people are the cause of deficit and debt and so they must accept austerity policies as the medicine for curing our economic ills.
It’s bad enough that they laud the 1% as the “job creators”, but the disdain they and their party show for working people is beyond the pale. We all make gaffes when we speak, but accusing nearly half the population of being entitlement junkies who can not be taught personal responsibility lays bare the soul of Mitt Romney.
Romney may be avoiding policy specifics, but the Ryan budget and the Republican National Platform are clear. The goals are to silence unions through a National Right to Work Law, end Medicare as we know it, cut Social Security and privatize it,† eviscerate environmental, labor, health and safety standards, and continue to heap tax incentives on the wealthy.
President Obama and Jay Inslee have a different vision – a high road vision. This vision, while not fully articulated, focuses on job creation, a fairer revenue system,† and a goal of shared prosperity. There is a recognition in this vision that refunding the common good is how we begin rebuilding the working and middle class. It is a road that leads toward economic and social justice.
So we have less than 40 days till the election. Forty days to convince our members which path to choose.
Washington’s labor movement has set some priorities and goals for election 2012.
Reelect President Obama, because hope is important and because we have too much to lose.
Elect Jay Inslee Governor of Washington State. Jay understands the dignity of work and workers, knows that government plays a real role in growing the economy, and that the common good is what defines our civil society.
Elect Bob Ferguson Attorney General. Bob will be a fearless fighter protecting consumers, the environment, workers, seniors, and veterans from those who would try and exploit them.
We need to send back to Congress people who share our basic values and that have a high road vision of where we need to go: Susan DelBene in CD 1, Derek Kilmer in CD 6, and Denny Heck in CD 10.
Our state senate has been our achilles heal over the last few years. The self described “road kill” caucus has adopted a “blame the victim”approach to public policy. We need to regain a philosophical majority in our state senate. To do this we need elect Bruce Lachney in Legislative District (LD) 2, Mark Mullet in LD 5, Tim Probst in LD 17, and Maureen Judge in LD 41.
We also need to protect key members of our state house and make some strategic pick- ups. Some strong labor and progressive incumbents are under attack: Tami Green in LD 28, Hans Dunshee LD 44, and Roger Goodman in LD 45. We also need to protect an open seat in LD 28 by supporting Eric Choinere a former member of the Communications Workers of America and a current University Place City Council member ( his opponent is a lawyer for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation).
We have the chance of strengthening our State House by electing a several labor champions. Dawn Morrell is a union nurse running in LD 25, Bud Sizemore is a union firefighter running in LD 47, and Mary McNaughton is a union nurse running in LD 44. These candidates share our fundamental values and will be fierce advocates for progressive change.
We also have two longer shot candidates that we are supporting in Eastern Washington because of their strong values and their courage to run in such red districts: Denny Dellwo in LD 6 and Jay Clough (a union electrician) in LD 8.
The only way we accomplish these goals and get these candidates across the finish line is by getting volunteers to walk with us and to phone bank with us. We phone bank four times a week and we have one super walk left to do in each of the eight targeted regions of our state in October.
We need your help. To volunteer or to view volunteer options please contact the Washington State Labor Council, AFL- CIO Field Mobilization Director, Lori Province, firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.wslc.org.
May our choices be correct.
Jeff Johnson is president of the Washington State Labor Council and a member of PSARA.