Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Three Cheers For Gridlock

So Yglesias mentions that Obama and Edwards made speeches today, and posts video links. "Bah," I say; I don't want to watch videos, my 1 minute attention span demands transcripts that I can scan for the interesting bits! So off I go to DailyKOS, whereupon I immediately get sidetracked. It seems that Congress is working on passing something called the Employee Free Choice Act, covering rules for union elections or some such. The post refuses to give a helpful summary of the bill, but rather (in a style that would make Arthur Silber proud) demands that I go read a bunch of previous DailyKos posts on the subject. It does, however, impart on me the Critical Importance of the bill. Why, it's so important, that I hadn't heard of it at all before opening up DailyKos!
The mechanics of EFCA, and its critical importance to justice in the workplace, have been explored at length on these pages by luminaries such as MissLaura and the AFL-CIO's Tula Connell. I'm not looking to once again explain just how EFCA works, and why its passage is essential for protection of the beleaguered right of American workers to bargain collectively. Tula and Laura have done a fine job of that -- and those of us who really care about the dignity of labor and the fight for respect on the job already have at least a cursory knowledge of how EFCA's majority card-check and first-contract arbitration provisions will allow American workers to once again organize without fear of brutal employer retaliation. We already recognize that EFCA is one of the most important bills that will come before this or any other recent Congress -- and we support it wholeheartedly.

Well okay then! But tell me, what if I hate poor people and don't care about the future of America? Why should I care about this bill in that case?
But this piece isn't really for those Democrats who instinctively prioritize workplace issues, who understand that a strong labor movement is at the core of any just and democratic society. I'm writing today for those breeds of Democrats who -- for whatever reason -- just don't care that much, or at least that passionately, about labor. I'm writing for folks like Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln -- two good Democratic senators who have yet to commit to voting for EFCA. I don't want to appeal to your better angels and try to convince you that EFCA is a civil rights bill, or that its passage is a moral imperative. No -- my message is simple, and is an appeal to your baser instincts: Passing EFCA will get more Democrats elected.
That's right. Put aside, for the moment, the many, many reasons that passing EFCA makes sense from a policy perspective. EFCA is a political winner for Democrats. Why? Because EFCA will increase the number of union members in the US -- and union members (and, for that matter, non-members living in union households) are more likely to vote Democratic than non-members.

(Emphasis theirs.)

And here I was, dismissing out of hand the argument made by conservatives that Democrats support immigration because Mexicans vote Democrat! Anyway, DailyKos being silly is old news, but let's go ahead and click some links, and try and determine why this bill is so awesome. Oh look, this rhetorical tactic looks familiar...
But right now, we're up against lawmakers like Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota, who oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. In opposing the Employee Free Choice Act, Coleman and his cohorts might as well be saying they don't care about saving America's middle class.

My witty retort writes itself!

The bill itself, I don't actually care much about; I suppose the typical libertarian response would be to say that the government has no damn business telling businesses whether they can tell their workers not to join a union, or whatever, but the entire structure of union-employer relationship is so heavily determined by legislation that it's not like we're talking about the pollution of a virgin free market here. My default position is opposition, based on the locus of my confirmation bias; that whatever Congress is doing, it will screw up, because it's Congress.

At any rate, as much as watching the democratic process in action pains me, I derive proportional pleasure from the fact that the whole act is entirely pointless, because the president declared months ago that he'll veto the bill; the current work on it is posturing. (pdf link) It's one party forcing the other to vote against something they think is popular; an action which may have some tangential effect on the 2008 election, but will not actually establish new policy.

This is why I love gridlock. A united government fucks people; a divided one masturbates.

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