May 12, 2008 

A Special Message from Pittsburgh on the 2008 Presidential Election Campaigns

In a recent meeting of the International Executive Board, concerns were raised about the  media’s ongoing attempts to sensationalize and mischaracterize the contest between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Most disturbing have been attempts to define working people’s voting decisions in this contest as somehow racially based, while completely ignoring the fact that for years Senator McCain and many of his Republican colleagues have treated all working people with complete disdain, whether those workers are white, Black, Hispanic or otherwise.  Shouldn’t that be the issue for 2008, and not this absurd and unfair focus on race and sometimes on religion?  

… Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake — for herself, her Party and for the nation — if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones.  

America needs a clean break from eight catastrophic years of George W. Bush, and it needs it now. And so far, Senator John McCain is shaping up as simply the “Bush Sequel” – with more war in Iraq, even more tax cuts for the rich while the middle class struggles mightily, and courts packed with even more right-wing activists intent on undoing decades of progress in civil rights, civil liberties and other vital areas. The Democratic Party must field the most effective and vibrant candidate it possibly can. And more attack ads and squabbling will not help achieve that goal.

It’s bad enough that John McCain’s supporters are already engaged in the politics of divide and conquer, especially if Senator Obama is the Nominee, which now seems likely.  These destructive Republican tactics are deeply troubling and completely unfair, as Senator Obama’s grandparents, who raised him during much of his youth, fought in World War II and worked honorably in manufacturing jobs to support their family. And they are deeply troubling because the Senator has pledged his own undying allegiance to our country and to working-class Americans, and because of his outspoken commitment to a vibrant middle class which grows from the bottom up and which recognizes that when it comes to economic policies and trade, American workers must come first.

Dividing working people along racial and ethnic lines is the oldest and meanest game in the book, and it is the one the Republicans are already using to distract attention from the fact that Senator McCain has made it abundantly clear that he offers nothing more than a continuation of the Bush administration’s sorry record of relentlessly assaulting the well-being and interests of working people and of our nation’s unions.  

John McCain is proposing a health care “plan,” for example, that is a health care industry-driven rehash of the approach that employers have been trying to shove down our throats for years in bargaining – and he is doing it with the full support of Bush and their Republican cronies in Congress and the insurance industry.  John McCain has never seen a free trade deal that he doesn’t love – and as a candidate he’s already cheerleading for even more of them.  He is calling for more Bush-type tax cuts for the wealthy that are creating the worst income inequality the country has seen since 1928.  He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, which Senator Obama supports for all workers, including for part-time and contract employees. John McCain will keep doling out subsidies to big oil. And he (along with Senator Clinton, unfortunately) has pandered to working people’s struggle to pay for rising gasoline prices by calling for a microscopic “gas tax holiday” that will only save working people pennies while robbing our country of the funds needed to rebuild our failing infrastructure – which is just one of the job-creating functions that our government should be investing in instead.  

Given these troubling circumstances, the IEB urges all staff and local leadership to share Senator McCain’s vicious anti-worker record with our members, and to encourage them to understand that media attempts to sensationalize differences among working people based on race, ethnicity or religion will only distract us from the real need to change our nation’s policies on health care, trade, workers’ rights, energy and foreign affairs.  Getting that message out immediately to all our members and supporters is crucial, and we must not let either the last few days of the Democratic primary process or the everyday McCain lies rob us of the chance to end the Bush assault on us, our union and our families.






































































































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