Too bad Bradley and McCain have thrown in the towel, because
now the thrill is gone. Until now, anyway, this year’s presidential
primaries were more interesting than anyone could have imagined.
But to be honest, most of the interesting developments were on
the Republican side of the battle. The Bradley campaign was like a birthday
party balloon that makes a grand entrance but eventually loses its gas and
ends up all wrinkled on the floor. Somebody forgot to tell Bill that if you
plan on running against somebody, it helps to check first to see if you
actually have different positions on key issues. He ran a dignified if
The Republican front had all the action. Anyone with a pulse
had to admit that the out-of-nowhere appearance of John McCain was fun to
watch. As McCain won New Hampshire, one could only imagine the heartburn and
high blood pressure of the corporate and consultant "fixers" who
have been working hard to make sure that George W. Bush ends up in the White
House. And Bush himself must have gone to bed a few nights wondering how he
could have blown $60 million but still couldn’t get people to vote for him.
All that was the fun part. Now for the ugly part. As a lot of
you probably noticed, when the McCain bandwagon really got moving, substantial
numbers of ordinary independent and Democratic voters started coming out of
the woodwork to support him. Why? Some folks are drawn to his history as a
pilot and POW in Vietnam. He’s a "maverick" and doesn’t mince
words. He would restore "dignity" to the White House — which
wouldn’t take much. Most Republican senators don’t like him, so he must be
okay. He’s for campaign finance reform. That seemed to be the big one. Add
your own reason. The fact is, for a few weeks, John McCain was basking in a
new "people’s leader" image bestowed on him by our pals in the
corporate news media.
A DISMAL RECORD
But the facts tell a very different story. Today, John McCain
is quite simply one of the most anti-labor members of our already anti-labor
Senate. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at a few of the
"highlights" of his record:
McCain supported privatizing part of the Social Security
McCain supported the disgraceful job-killing "NAFTA
for Africa" sweatshop scheme (1999).
McCain supported the anti- "salting" bill making
it legal to fire and blacklist union members and supporters (1998).
McCain supported the "comp time" repeal of
overtime pay and paid leave (1997).
McCain supported raising eligibility age for Medicare
McCain supported the "right-to-work act to abolish
the union and agency shop (1996). In fact, he’s a co-sponsor of the
current Senate bill!
McCain supported the "Teamwork" bill to legalize
banned "company unions" (1996).
McCain opposed "strikers’ rights" legislation
banning permanent replacements (1992, 1992, 1995).
McCain supported the job-killing GATT deal (1994).
McCain supported the job-killing NAFTA deal (1993).
McCain opposed plant closing notification legislation
McCain opposed collective bargaining rights for public
mass transit workers (1987).
McCain opposed the rehiring of the fired PATCO workers
Now, in case you need more than that, try this on for
size. McCain on education: "...If you really want a better
education system, you’ve got to break the teachers’ unions..."
Between 1987 and 1996, McCain racked up a miserable 13 percent
pro-worker voting record as measured by the AFL-CIO.
WOULD YOU WANT ...
McCain has a reputation for an explosive temper, and he
apparently likes to hire campaign staff that go ape as well. The Washington
Post reported recently that McCain campaign political director and confidant
John Weaver makes a habit of screaming at underlings, throwing things through
walls and out of windows, and enjoys demolishing cell phones in fits of rage.
Just the kind of people you want running the country.
Four years ago, this Weaver guy was field director for the now
forgotten presidential campaign of Texas Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm was the guy
who announced during his "I’m running for president" speech that
he had the biggest qualification of all — "ready money." But I’m
sure that Weaver is all for campaign finance reform now, just like McCain.
HANDLE WITH TONGS
Given the facts, what working person in their right mind could
support this guy? And I didn’t even get to his involvement in the savings
and loan scandal of the 1980s. Or that his political career has been
bankrolled by big phone companies, the beer industry, Boeing, Motorola, and
the union-smashing company Phelps Dodge.
When it comes to John McCain, it’s a case of "handle
So don’t be nostalgic for the McCain campaign. Instead,
let’s get busy. First, find someone you know or work with who has fallen for
the McCain that they see on TV. Unfortunately, they are all around us. Second,
give these folks the facts that they never could have hoped to get from our
anti-labor Big Business news media. And while you’re at it, tell them about
the Labor Party. If you ask, you might get a few of them to join. Because if
folks want real change, what they’re really looking for is the Labor Party.
Chris Townsend is political action director of the United
Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE).