According to a recent New York Times article, the blue-green battle continues within the Democratic Party — blue being blue-collar labor and green being environmentalists.
This time, construction unions are upset over an alliance between a hedge fund manager who happens to be an environmentalist and AFL-CIO leadership.
It’s a multi-layered story. First, hedge fund managers aren’t the most beloved, at least in my book. They often make obscene amounts of money and pay a ridiculously low tax rate on it. But a fellow named Tom Steyer is worried about climate change and is kicking $5 million into a PAC to help keep Donald Trump out of office. From the Times:
The rift developed after some in the labor movement, whose cash flow has dwindled and whose political clout has been increasingly imperiled, announced a partnership last week with a wealthy environmentalist to help bankroll a new fund dedicated to electing Democrats.
It’s troubling that Democrats are in bed with a hedge fund tycoon but the Times continues:
For decades, organized labor was among the most powerful forces on the left, financing Democratic candidates and reliably delivering working-class votes, and political foot soldiers, for the party in crucial states and districts.
But with blue-collar white voters shifting to the Republican Party and Democrats growing more reliant on higher-income voters and liberal donors like Mr. Steyer, environmental activists are increasingly muscling out unions.
In Montana, labor unions still have more clout with the Democratic Party than environmentalists — I’ve seen this firsthand — but the rift is definitely there. One has to wonder how this will play out. Membership is dwindling in the trade unions. For example, all of Denny Washington’s
railroad and mine workers are non-union. This would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. Union membership in Montana is increasingly made up of teachers and other government workers, and the service industry, but at this point, AFL-CIO leadership (and the Democratic Party, for the most part) still sides with the blue collar trades.
No one ever said this chasm would be easy to bridge but in this purple state of ours, Democrats cannot afford to lose either blue collar or green votes.
Now, party leadership hasn’t solicited my recommendations nor have I been tapped to replace DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, but I have some ideas.
There’s a common goal called sustainability: long term, good paying jobs along with a stable environment. Organized labor needs to work with environmental leaders to advance intensive clean energy legislation that includes high-paying union jobs in the alternative energy sector. Environmental organizations must make job creation a priority in their push to create a clean environment.
Basically, it’s time for leadership from both sides of the debate to sit down and plan what’s best for workers and the planet. A starting point could be booting from office the common enemy of the people — the living wage and climate change deniers — a.k.a. Republicans.
I don’t believe this blue-green schism comes close to approaching the debacle that is currently the Republican Party. The destructive potential is there, though, and Democratic Party leadership better bring the factions together and get a handle on this.
Finally, while stressing that it won’t support legislation that’s beneficial to hedge fund managers or Wall Street, the AFL-CIO should take the guy’s money and help get Democrats elected.