by Tim Paulson, Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
The media bombards us with stories about all the candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for President. There are lefties and moderates and conservatives. There are men, women and people of color from diverse backgrounds. There are Senators, Congress folks, mayors and business people.
I will vote for whoever emerges and will be urging you to do the same.
As I noted in a previous article, many of these candidates attended the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco a couple of months ago. I am the chair of the labor caucus, and all candidates have asked for labor support and have vowed to support union values and the right to organize.
We should all know by now that Donald Trump lied to working men and women. He promised jobs and respect but has done everything his business friends have asked to eliminate that respect and undermine our rights.
Some of our members bought into his false hope, and now we are facing the anti-union consequences of his election. He has created a false and devastating tariff war with China. He has threatened war with Iran for no reason. He supports “right to work” legislation. He is gutting OSHA and workplace safety. He supports eliminating prevailing wages. The list is endless.
But let’s be clear. Our members have lost a lot of faith in the Democratic Party and what its elected leaders stand for. I personally believe that Hilary Clinton would’ve been a great president, but our members didn’t. She was a rotten candidate and many workers bought into the false hope of Donald Trump.
Adolf Hitler in the 1930s started his political career by promising new jobs and a strong economy and campaigned to make Germany Great Again after their defeat in World War I. In the middle of an ensuing depression, he blamed outsiders and Jews and others for the economic hardships that Germans were suffering. He offered hope.
Wow! That sure worked out well for Germany and the world.
As union members and Democrats, we have both a problem and a gift of many candidates who want to defeat Trump. The problem is that we will argue and fight over the “correct” issues to advance. The gift is that we have so many talented, dedicated public servants who are willing to serve this great country.
A few examples:
We have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who are campaigning on basic humans rights such as guaranteed health care, pensions and the historical American dignity of welcoming immigrants.
We have women like Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senators who bring authority and broad experience to the table.
We have local middle-America perspectives from Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg.
We have neo-liberal corporate stuff from civil rights advocate Corey Booker of New Jersey.
We’ve got the “electable” former Vice President Joe Biden who everyone “likes,” probably the most experienced public servant on board. But he has the issue of facing a new vanguard of exciting folks emerging to take on the fight for economic, climate and social justice such as Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota.
And then we have our own Californian, Kamala Harris, who has reached and challenged the national stage so fast. A prosecutor, now legislator, a woman of color who is pushing the envelop for economic, immigrant and criminal justice. In my mind, she seems to be the front-runner because her poll numbers slip every time she announces something bold. Ha!
Whoever emerges from the pack will warrant our vote. In 2020 working men and women will rise to the task of supporting a man or woman to reverse the tide of the current administration’s assault on us. Donald Trump is a sexist, racist fraud and we will use all our resources to restore the United States Presidency to the dignity it deserves.