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“True America And Those Alien Regions”: Republicans Sneer At ‘New York Values.’ That’s Their Problem

When we look back on the 2016 primary campaign, few images will be as bizarre and amusing as Ted Cruz visiting a matzo bakery in Brooklyn and singing a few rounds of “Dayenu” with a bunch of kids. But that’s hardly been the only bit of weirdness coming out of the campaign in the last couple of days. “This is like being so alive, being in New York,” said John Kasich after chowing down on some Italian food in the Bronx.

For a few days, Republicans will pretend to be smitten with the Big Apple; it’s like a foreign trip, where the candidates come to a strange and unfamiliar land to behold the natives and sample their exotic culture.

But as we watch, remember this: If someone other than Donald Trump wins the nomination, he will not be returning to New York after its primary a week from Tuesday, unless it’s to raise money. And that’s another indication of Republicans’ fundamental weakness when it comes time to try to assemble a national majority in order to win the White House.

You might object that this isn’t just a Republican problem; there are many places in this great and diverse country of ours where Democrats are not competitive. And that’s absolutely true. In a general election, the Democratic candidate isn’t going to be campaigning in Mississippi or Oklahoma.

But there’s a difference in the way politicians in the two parties approach those alien regions. Democrats always insist that they’d love to have the support of voters in the South or conservative parts of the Midwest and West. They don’t attack those places as fundamentally un-American. Theirs may be just as much a regional party as the GOP, but they won’t ever say so.

Republicans, on the other hand, regularly assert that the places where they’re strongest are the true America, where the most virtuous people live and the real heart of our country resides. When Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for having “New York values” back in January, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before. Indeed, Republicans everywhere (and a few Democrats, but this is mostly a Republican thing) will say they have “[insert our state] values,” as a way of charging that their opponents are strangers who see the world in fundamentally different ways than we do.

The truth, though, is that Cruz was absolutely right when he said that “New York values” are not what Republican voters are looking for, no matter how much support Trump has. When pressed on this point Cruz will say that he was talking about liberal ideology, but it’s much more than that. It’s the fact that New York is urban, young, constantly changing, and perhaps most of all, dominated by immigrants and minorities (more than a third of New York’s population was born outside the U.S. and two-thirds are non-white).

Like many other big cities, New York reflects the diverse coalition Democrats count on to push them over 50 percent, much more so than the nearly all-white GOP. That’s what makes it a threatening place to the typical Republican voter who wants America to go back to being the country it was when they were kids.

And interestingly enough, it’s the New Yorker Donald Trump who seems to have the strongest hold on the Republicans who feel that kind of threat most acutely. In a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 64 percent of Trump supporters agreed with the statement, “it bothers me when I come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English,” something that your average New Yorker experiences just about every day. A much smaller (though still substantial) 46 percent of Cruz supporters and 38 percent of John Kasich’s supporters agreed. Trump may hail from Queens and live in Manhattan, but it’s his ability to tap into the fears and resentments of people whom you couldn’t pay to come to New York that has put him in the lead.

One might argue that the long primary campaign discourages regionalism and divisiveness by forcing candidates to pander to all kinds of Americans from all over the country. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t actually work out that way in practice. Cruz is on the defensive a bit right now over the “New York values” comment (Kasich has a new ad  attacking him over it, featuring a vaguely New York-ish-sounding narrator talking about how Kasich is in touch with “our New York values”). But he knew exactly what he was doing when he said it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New York Values, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Women And “Husband Issues”: We Work Hard, But Who’s Complaining?

When a couple dozen brawny, uniformed and helmeted firefighters, led by a bagpipe player, marched through a crowd of pro-union protesters in Madison, Wis., last month, I knew, almost to a certainty, that Gov. Scott Walker had picked a fight with the wrong crew.

As the firemen assembled on the Statehouse steps, the swelling, boisterous crowd, which had raucously encircled and occupied the Capitol for days, pushing back against Governor Walker’s plan to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights, all of a sudden slipped into silent reverence.

While the plan exempts policemen and firemen, the first responders rallied under the oldest first principle of militant unionism: An Injury to One is an Injury to All. And the presence of these mostly white, husky, mustachioed firemen — many with soot still speckling their uniforms — had highlighted a major issue that generally goes undetected by the news media when covering labor conflicts.

In short, it’s what my old union called “the Husband Issue.”

Allow me to explain.

I spent five years as an organizer, and hundreds of hours in the living rooms, at the kitchen tables and on the porches of countless low-wage nursing assistants, hospital food workers and clinical lab scientists, trying to talk them into our union.

These were almost always women. No surprise, really. Whatever growth there has been in organized labor over the last few years — and there hasn’t been much — has been primarily among service workers, that near-invisible class of underpaid workers who clean bedpans, vacuum hotel rooms and mop the floors of operating rooms. I recall one heady organizing drive in Southern California that unionized 9,000 hospital workers, and they were almost exclusively low-wage immigrant women.

Most of those I was recruiting had never been in a union before, had no relatives in unions, and were being introduced to a strange new concept, collective bargaining. For any question a woman had, whether about dues, strikes, seniority, pensions or what she had to gain from forming a union, I had an answer ready to go. (Dues give you power; strikes are rare; every one deserves to retire with dignity. You want a direct say in your wages and benefits, don’t you?).

There was one rebuff, nevertheless, against which I was utterly powerless. It had nothing to do with politics, the boss or dues. Seven simple but devastating words: “I need to ask my husband first.”

Despite the endless training we got on how to ease workers’ doubts, we could never really establish a convincing response for the Husband Issue. It would shift the dynamic so suddenly, and require treading on such volatile emotional territory, that we would often politely say goodbye and scuttle out the door.

(For the record: No man I ever spoke to said, “Excuse me, I have to check first with my wife,” before signing a union card.)

In the current storm over public employee unions rattling the Midwest, this issue of gender is usually overlooked. Women, working as state clerks, teachers and nurses, dominate the organized public sector. And just as Rust Belt Republicans have deftly exploited longstanding stereotypes about public workers as lazy, pampered and gorging themselves on the taxpayers’ teat, they have also made cynical use of gender clichés to try to keep female-dominated unions in their place.

The reality that women are increasingly the breadwinners, providing the financial stability for middle-class families through a good union job, doesn’t seem to inform the Republican state of mind. Instead, women’s income and benefits are still perceived by many as strictly supplementary to the nuclear family, if not entirely superfluous. And therefore they are a prime target for budget cuts.

In addition, pink-collar jobs already require a saint-like disposition and an overall doing-more-with-less attitude. Cutting the pensions of these female workers, freezing their wages and curtailing their rights seems, to many, one of a piece with the suffering and forbearance reserved for our mothers.

The error committed by the antiunion governors is that their attack this time around was so slashing that it cut to the very marrow of organized labor: middle-class white men who saw their futures and their rights threatened. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich even signed a law that goes so far as to prohibit policemen and firemen from negotiating over their staffing, or even the number of patrol cars and trucks at their disposal.

Police officers and firemen? Who is going to successfully argue that these guys are pampered and spoiled?

Call it what you want, and ascribe it to whatever motivation you please, but there’s just a radically different emotional atmosphere, a very divergent set of optics and ultimately an explosive political dynamic established when stoic firemen in bulky parkas and red helmets are on the picket line rather than teachers in pink T-shirts.

For better or for worse, they are still the Alpha Males of American society, our designated and respected protectors. They might be routinely taken for granted as a reliable conservative force, but someone forgot they are also still union men. These are men who recall clearly how the old-line male-dominated industrial unions — the steelworkers, autoworkers, miners and millworkers — have been whittled down or expunged. And to fiddle around with their livelihoods is like watching someone push your dad around. The reaction is an instinctive anger, horror and a sensation of the bottom falling out.

So, when those firemen took the steps of the Madison Capitol a few weeks ago, I was among those heartened and stirred. I could not resist, though, feeling more than a twinge of disappointment. I fear if it had been just some state home care workers or public school kindergarten teachers up there on the steps, it would not have ignited the same public sympathy and this fight would not be taken as seriously as it is.

By: Natasha Vargus-Cooper, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 2, 2011

April 3, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Employment Descrimination, Equal Rights, Governors, Income Gap, Jobs, Labor, Media, Middle Class, Politics, Union Busting, Unions, Wisconsin, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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