The Republicans are again fishing for union votes with the same old social issues sucker bait. Veteran UA leader Larry Sanderson, calls it “the three Gs con job,” as in “God, Guns and Gays.”
Unfortunately, some union members swallow it, hook, line and sinker.
This year, the GOP is also hoping the “enthusiasm gap” means a bunch of union members and others who usually vote for Democrats will stay home on November 2. Polls say Republicans are a lot more fired up about the election than Democrats are.
Apparently, the economy, more than anything else, is driving disaffected Democrats and independents, doubtless including union members, toward the GOP. Or it’s causing them to consider not voting.
Have they forgotten that eight years of George W. Bush and the GOP gospel of greed gave us the hard times? (The same gospel of greed caused the Great Depression.)
Barack Obama is trying to clean up the economic mess – reputedly the worst recession since the Depression (and congressional Republicans are blocking him at every turn).
Hence, a little perspective is in order. Obama has been president for less than two years. Inaugurated in 1933, FDR battled the Depression up to the start of World War II in 1939 and he had Democratic-majority congresses all along.
At the same time, you’d think just the far-right wing extremism of Republican candidates – notably Tea Party-tilters like Kentucky U.S. senate hopeful Rand Paul — would be enough to scare Democrats and middle-of-the road independents to the polls in droves.
Talk about a close encounter of the worst kind: Imagine a Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a House Speaker John Boehner.
Anyway, the GOP social issues hustle is at least 30 years old. The Republicans started pressing these hot buttons to chip away at the union vote when Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980.
I saw the scam work, first-hand, when I was a newspaper reporter helping cover a campaign stop by President Jimmy Carter at a coal mine in southern Illinois. The miners belonged to the UMWA.
Carter was union-endorsed. The Reagan record was plainly anti-union (and he became the most anti-union president since Herbert Hoover).
Even so, I spied a few miners with Reagan signs. I asked them why they opposed Carter. Their answers dumbfounded me, but I dutifully reported what they said.
“If Carter gets back in, he’ll take away our guns,” one told me.
“Reagan’s going to stop abortion and put prayer back in schools,” said another.
Since then, gay rights have become another GOP social issues bugaboo.
Sanderson, the UA international representative for Kentucky and Tennessee, has an answer for union members who vote on social issues and not on union issues:
“‘You can’t buy a gun if you don’t have a job. You’ve got a good job thanks to your union. And who would love to take away your union? It’s those ‘three G’ Republicans.’”