Sunday, June 29, 2008

Democratic divisions still linger, even after "Unity"

Don't ask why I've been trolling The New Republic, but suffice it to say there's some trouble brewing for Barack Obama among certain factions in organized labor.

At the AFL-CIO meeting this week that endorsed Barack Obama, one union president, Thomas Buffenbarger of the Machinists, voted “present.” In a letter to his members, Buffenbarger explained:

"...hope and change are not antidotes to the economic pressures blue-collar families face... In the Machinists Union, a predominately blue-collar union, the impression continues to grow that Senator Barack Obama could care less about folks like us. At the plant closings in Galesburg [where a Maytag plant moved its operations to Mexico] and Herrin, in llinois and during our fight to save pensions at United Airlines, he never lifted a finger to help our members... In phone calls to IAM members, Senator Obama never broke 18 percent in any state. He came in third, often a distant third, behind Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain. And our union made over a quarter million calls to its members."

...Buffenbarger was also miffed when the Obama campaign failed to respond to phone calls this Spring asking him to denounce the Pentagon decision to buy a new tanker fleet from Northrop Grumman, working in cooperation with AIRBUS, rather than from the Chicago-based Boeing company. The Northrop-Grumman planes would have been built partly in Toulouse, France. During the Washington primary in March, Obama had initially offered a tepid criticism of the decision, but at a town meeting in Wilkes Barre during the Pennsylvania primary, Obama had appeared to defend the Pentagon award to Northrop-Grumman and Airbus, infuriating the Machinists whose workers would have built the planes.

The Economist spells out a key point curiously ignored by our beloved mainstream media.

Many union members are culturally conservative whites who might be expected to vote Republican, especially now that Mr Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton, is the Democratic nominee.

Further, reports the Guardian:

...while Clinton and Obama were willing to put the past aside yesterday, resolving the divisions between their followers could prove far more challenging - even for professional politicians.

Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic candidate for Senate who spent the day campaigning with Michelle Obama on Thursday, could not entirely bury her sense of grievance at Clinton's loss. Shaheen had been one of Clinton's most powerful supporters in New Hampshire. "I know what it's like to make an important policy statement only to have the media report what you are wearing or what your hairstyle is," Shaheen told the crowd in Unity.

Some diehard Clinton camp followers say they will never get over their disappointment and have founded online groups like Puma, or Party Unity My Ass. Puma's followers are calling on women to support McCain, or stay home.

Puma's website can be found here, should you wish to lend your support.

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