One way for the Democrats to approach a jobs campaign would be invest or launch a grassroots effort in districts where Republicans hold the Congressional seat. Most if not all Congressional Democrats would support a big public works project yet few if any Republicans would support the idea. We needed a massive public works project to get us out of the Great Depression. We put 11 million people to work when there was at the time 125 million Americans in the 30’s. Today we have 300 million Americans so a project that was proportionally as big as the New Deal effort would be in the 25 million job range.
For the last two years Republicans and their Tea Party allies have been on the attack against Obama and the Democrats. They have slandered him and his efforts crying “keep the government out of medicare” and other conservative ,right wing themes. It’s time to go on the offensive. A jobs campaign could organize Democrats in Republican districts and pressure the Congress people at town hall meetings much like the right wing attacks at health care town hall meetings a year ago. Of course our style wouldn’t need to stoop to the lows of the Tea Party, we hold democracy in much higher esteem than do conservatives. The campaign could shine a spotlight on conservatives and this crucial issue. A cardinal rule of lobbying would apply which is that “politicians act very differently when they are being watched.”To turn their backs on the unemployed in their district could become very risky business. This is an issue that could mobilize not only Democrats but also independents and even sane thinking conservatives.
A famous Bay Area labor leader Bill Bailey once said about organizing people around job issues during the Depression that “people didn’t care if you were talking about communism, socialism,capitalism or rheumatism , if you were talking about jobs they wanted to hear what you had to say.”Times have changed since the 30’s and the left parties have been outlawed by the right leaning government.Democrats don’t have the grassroots organizations that the left had in communities and work places.In a sense we don’t have the social capital that our grandparents and great grandparents had.Even so ,today the target could and should be Republican congressional ,where there are plenty of unemployed and the potential for very constructive organizing. Progressives should make Tim Kaine chair of the DNC know that this should be a jobs campaign option. Furthermore the Democrats could do it on a shoestring(budget).
This could also be structured as an issue that could electrify the employed as well.Unlike European countries American workers don’t have the right of just cause at the workplace unless they are in a union.In non union shops and workplaces you can get fired in a heartbeat. This feature of the American work place draws a lot of pity from our neighbors from across the Atlantic. They feel we have a cruel country and work environment not to have this basic right. And who wouldn’t want their family members to work without the protection of “just cause?” Even the most conservative people among us would want their loved ones protected by “just cause,”at work.
Kaine and the Democrats could raise a lot of cane(pardon the pun) with a “Jobs and Just Cause Campaign.” As another legendary Bay Area labor and community leader (and former defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles) Leonard McNeil once said , “it’s time to stop taking punches and throw a few ourselves.”Jobs and Just Cause could well be the one two punch we need to get progressives moving again and to get us out of this very depressing Great Recession.