Women, Remember the Power of Union
"We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
The word "union" is so identified with core American values, that the founders of our nation stated "a more perfect Union" as the purpose of our country's very existence. Our unions, in general, advocate for workers' rights against the robber barons of capitalism, and it cannot be denied (except by liars) that the net effect of unions has been vastly positive for American workers. We can thank them for workers' safety regulations, a 40-hour work week, weekends, and lunch hours, among many other things.
It is not the institution of unions which is under attack in Wisconsin, and elsewhere throughout the country, however. It is the power of unions to collectively bargain...which, really, is the only power a union has: the power of the masses, making improvements to peoples' lives on a large scale. In other words, the power of collective bargaining is the power not just of unions, but of Union. The power of Union is a power that We, the People, have not used in a long time. It took an egregious Republican attack on that power (and the catalyst of the Egyptian uprising) to make us remember that we, too, are able to affect our government by taking to the street, and not going home until we get what we want.
The future of Governor Scott "Hosni" Walker's anti-Union, anti-American bill is uncertain, but union and non-union people all across the country (including here at TW) have been standing strong with the Cheeseheads in many ways, from pizza to political contributions to local solidarity rallies. At TW, we have been privileged to enjoy frequent updates from our Wisconsin friend, Cream City, and we thank her very much for keeping us in the loop. We hope that the bill is defeated, but if not, the Wisconsinites have the power to recall their governor, and if I were Scott Walker, I'd be quite worried that they'll use it.
Yes, Republicans are anti-union, and Democrats are pro-union, as a general rule, so you can expect most of these attacks on the power of Union to be coming from Republicans. But Obama changed all the rules, didn't he? In our new post-partisan world, I can't help wondering: what if the governor demanding the legal termination of collective bargaining power were not a Republican, but a Democrat? (Unfortunately. New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo's new budget looks awfully Walker-like to me.) What if Barack Obama signed a similar bill? What would the unions do then?
This is the dilemma facing pro-choice women's organizations today.
Since the Republican Party was overtaken by the Christian Taliban in the 1980s, it has become virulently anti-abortion, anti-contraception and anti-sex education. By contrast, the Democratic Party has a platform which includes support for all these reproductive health services. It must have seemed like a no-brainer for NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood to ally themselves with the Democratic Party. For a while, it seemed to work. Whenever a Democratic President was in power, the madness of the anti-choice extremists was held at bay. A Democratic Congress insured that any bills threatening Roe v. Wade or funding for reproductive health services, would never make it out of committee. Everyone was happy, until Barack Obama came along.
The pro-choice women's organizations went overboard in their support of Obama. Some supported Hillary at first, but once the primaries were over, they all made it clear that Obama was a feminist and that no sane feminist could possibly contest his pro-choice credentials. Those of us who pointed out, with facts instead of wishful thinking, that he was neither pro-choice, nor a feminist, were labeled fat, ugly racists and swept under the rug. As the expression goes, elections have consequences, and we now have the most anti-choice Democratic President since 1972 squatting in the Oval Office. Talk about a Hobson's Choice! A Republican President would only make it easier for the Right's plan to totally defund all forms of reproductive health services to come to fruition. These plans take away a woman's sovereignty over her own life and health, effectively constituting "death panels" for women. (Isn't it funny how "right-centered feminists" do not appear to have a clue that contraceptions, abortions and reality-based sex education save millions of womens' lives? So much for standing up for all women!) So, a President Huckabee or Palin is obviously not the answer. Yet Obama has regressed women's rights farther back than George Dubya, and in a much shorter amount of time. He is not the answer either.
What the pro-choice women's organizations have forgotten is that there are so many women like them, women who are desperate to be heard, women who just need an organizer with enough money and enough people to start a Million Woman March on D.C. in favor of women's full equal rights, including the ERA. They have forgotten that when voting doesn't do any good, when no matter which Party wins you lose, it's time to take to the streets and make the powers that be do what YOU want them to do.
So women, I beseech you: Remember the power of Union. Our great achievements - women's suffrage and the legalization of abortion - have only succeeded when we struggle together. Do not be distracted by the finger-pointing and feminist-blaming from the Right, or the deadly false friendship on the Left. Trust yourselves and join hands, as the Wisconsin pro-labor demonstrators did and are doing. Get out on the street! I am just a Z-list blogger with a vastly dimished bank account, but if I were the President of NOW or NARAL, I would start planning that march, STAT.
So far, Planned Parenthood NYC is the only group that I know of which is planning a street protest of the insane bills going through the House. There is a rally this Saturday, February 26th, from 1 pm to 3pm down in lower Manhattan. Here is the URL for more details. I am hoping to be able to attend this event and report back.
Perhaps this rally is the spark that will finally fan the flames of resistance amongst American women who do not want the State taking control of their scary ladyparts. Perhaps women will never wake up until they have been boiled to death like a frog in a pot. I know this much - if we do not do as our inspirational friends in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are doing, we will lose our power of Union forever.
I'm hoping that our friend Woody Guthrie is right, and that women will remember their strength and defeat the Christian Taliban. All those fascists are, after all, bound to lose.