was quick to argue that the real necessity was to rejuvenate the labor movement itself. She praised Sweeney’s new emphasis on organizing, the nationwide campaign for a “living wage,” and said new organizing campaigns were planned for many states, Texas among them. As for party politics, Chavez-Thompson reiterated that labor expected the Democratic leadership to respond positively and substantively to the campaign support it was receiving this year: “If they don’t, the gloves will be off, even within our own party.” At a breakfast for the Texas delegation, Texas AFL-CIO President Joe Gunn echoed Chavez-Thompson’ s remarks, noting that Sweeney’s convention address \(“the first for labor since FDR’s time, as far as I didn’t necessarily ask for it,” said Gunn, “but the conscience of America, and the conscience of Texas, is falling upon the labor movement.” More pragmatically, a Chicago labor leader told me bluntly that none of the labor movement was particularly “in love with Clinton,” but that they vividly recalled the difficulties created for the labor movement particularly at the National Labor Relations Board and for new organizingof the Reagan years, and had no desire to return to them under Dole. “We have to be able to continue to organize,” he said, “or we’re finished.” His argument was echoed in one form or another by every nominally progressive Democrat in Chicago. At the Tuesday seminar organized by the group of liberal Dems calling themselves the “Campaign for America’s Future,” and hoping to be for the Party’s left what Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council has been for its right, one speaker after another presented Clinton as the only defense against the radical-right Republicans. “We have only two parties in America,” said one, “and we have to support the one marginally, better for our interests.” California Congresswoman Maxine Waters made the same point, and then hectored the assembled progressives for their failure to put enough pressure upon her and her fellow Democrats to enable them to do what was necessary to save the Party and the country. Waters’ message might have been more comprehensible if out on the convention floor the reiterated subtext hadn’t been just the opposite: “Think Left, but vote Right!” Inside the hall, it was easy to get caught up in this defensive wishful thinking, and think that yes, well, the Democrats must burn the Democratic village in order to save it. It was positively disorienting to open Thursday’s paper and discover the usually tepid David Broder visiting an overwhelmed Chicago jobs program and talking more hard sense than seemed available in the entire United Center. This has been a convention [Broder wrote] so awash in sentiment and so devoid of common sense that the single identifiable political proposition to emerge is stunning in its sophistry. Because President Clinton signed a bad welfare bill, Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson and a host of lesser lights have proclaimed, it is even more important to reelect him and give him Billie Carr a Democratic Congress. Otherwise, they say, there is no rescue in sight from the threat to perhaps a million children and to thousands of legal immigrants who will be denied helpbecause of the bill Clinton signed, If you think Clinton should be rewarded with a second term for that, you have to believe Jack the Ripper should have been given a scholarship to medical school. A day earlier, Garry Wills had described Clinton as a “political Elmer Gantry,” and sounded a darker warning for Democrats hoping to revive the real party in Clinton’s wake. “But now what he is doing to sustain [his] ascendancypromising to be not much more than not Gingrichincreases the probability that Clinton’s presidency is just a diluted Democratic moment in an ongoing Republican era.” The question of how to tell the Democrats from the Republicans did finally come up, late in the week, but then it was in connection not with social policies but social disgrace. The Dick Morris sexscandal roared through the hall on Thursday, threatening to derail the Clinton convention express, and party officials spent the day pointing out that Morris was a “paid consultant, not on the White House staff’ and that his private affairs, whatever they were, had nothing to do with his political work for Bill Clinton. Land Commissioner and Clinton intimate Garry Mauro argued that “if hiring Dick Morris reflects badly on the judgment of Bill Clinton, then it reflects badly on the judgment of Jesse Helms and Trent Lott [who “I’M NOT SURE WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE FOR, THESE DAYS. MAYBE IT’S EDUCATION -WE’VE GOT TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. WE NEED TO GET TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT IT: ‘WHAT IS A LIBERAL IN THE YEAR 2000?'” 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 13, 1996
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