In TNR, the Working Class Has Disappeared
September 06, 2010
Once upon a time, The New Republic ran detailed, empathetic articles about the lives, ideas, and activism of American workers. “They seem easygoing, good-humored and straightforward Southerners,” wrote Edmund Wilson in a 1931 essay about the coal-miners of West Virginia, “so much in the old tradition of American backwoods independence that it is almost impossible to realize they have actually been reduced to the condition of serfs.” In 1966, Maury Maverick Jr. joined a mass march by Texas farmworkers that ended on Labor Day, on the steps of the state capitol building.
Why I Miss ‘Big Labor’
September 06, 2010
Washington—Watching the great civil rights march on television in August 1963, I couldn't help but notice that hundreds carried signs with a strange legend at the top: "UAW Says." UAW was saying "Segregation Disunites the United States," and many other things insisting on equality. This "UAW" was a very odd word to my 11-year-old self and I asked my dad who or what "U-awe," as I pronounced it, was.
TNR on the Labor Movement
September 06, 2010
It's Labor Day, a time to commemorate and reexamine the role of organized labor in American life. The best way to do so, of course, is to browse this collection of classic TNR pieces on labor, written by senior editors John B. Judis and Jonathan Cohn: "Can Labor Come Back?" by John B. Judis. May 23, 1994. By the mid-1990s, it became conventional wisdom to think of organized labor in America as a fading political force.
A Limited Defense of Jerry Lewis
September 04, 2010
First, I would like to apologize for bringing up Jerry Lewis on Labor Day weekend, when most of us who fail to derive voyeuristic pleasure from the deranged spectacle of his annual telethon are doing our best to avoid him. In saying that, I mean not to derogate the Muscular Distrophy Association, of course.
That Gallup Poll May Be--Gasp!--Worse Than It Looks
August 31, 2010
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Much of Washington--this resident included--spent the morning clucking over the just-released Gallup poll showing Democrats down ten points in a generic contest with Republicans. This, Gallup helpfully informs us, is the largest GOP margin in the poll's entire history, dating back to 1942. My first reaction was similar to Nate Silver's: It's highly unlikely that Democrats are actually down ten points--any given poll is likely to be an outlier if it, well, lies outside the range of recent data points.
The Democrats’ Big Tax Problem
August 02, 2010
I never imagined I would suspect Jonathan Chait of political naïveté. But his recent post, “How To Fight the Tax Cut Wars,” leaves me no choice. Chait gleefully maintains that Democrats “hold the whip hand” in the upcoming battle in Congress over whether to retain the Bush tax cuts that provided a windfall for the richest Americans. If the Dems try to extend the cuts only for taxpayers with incomes under $250,000, Chait argues, the GOP will seem like lackeys of the rich for filibustering the bill. And if no bill passes, the nation would revert to the more equitable rates of the 1990s.
The GOP's Referendum Strategy
July 19, 2010
The Republican Party is having an internal debate over whether, or to what degree, it should make public its policy agenda: Sometime after Labor Day, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner plans to unveil a blueprint of what Republicans will do if they take back control of the chamber. He promises it will be a full plate of policy proposals that will give voters a clear sense of how they would govern. But will Republicans actually want to run on those ideas -- or any ideas? Behind the scenes, many are being urged to ignore the leaders and do just the opposite: avoid issues at all costs.
My Heart vs. My Bones
June 06, 2010
The last time I deliberately didn’t watch a big soccer match was just over a quarter of a century ago—May 18, 1985. That day, in the living room of our house in England, Dad sat on the edge of his seat as Kevin Moran became the first player in the history of FA Cup finals to be sent off. Manchester United, his (and my) beloved team, were doomed, surely…. Then, in extra time, Norman Whiteside, a Wayne Rooney of his day who had just turned 20, scored a magnificent solo goal in extra time to give United the trophy. Me? I was in my bedroom, listening to “Hearts and Bones,” by Paul Simon.
Don Blankenship Is Right!
April 12, 2010
Here is the real-life Montgomery Burns speaking at an anti-union Labor Day rally last year: As someone who has overseen the mining of more coal than anyone else in the history of central Appalachia, I know that the safety and health of coal miners is my most important job. I don’t need Washington politicians to tell me that, and neither do you. But I also know — I also know Washington and state politicians have no idea how to improve miner safety.
Old Senator, New Tricks
January 25, 2010
As a rule, politicians in West Virginia don't care for environmentalists. This is, after all, a state that supplies 50 percent of U.S. coal exports, a state where the mining industry is responsible for roughly 30,000 jobs—a state that essentially depends on pollution for its survival. And West Virginia's most prominent coal champion has long been Robert Byrd, who once slammed green critics of mining as "head-in-the-cloud individuals" out to destroy jobs and impoverish the region.