Monday, March 26, 2012

The Unreal Right

Herewith a brief meditation on the dysfunctional conservative mind.  That's all it deserves, and more than most can abide anyway. But I should at least note that the catalog of examples which could be presented on this subject is inexhaustible.  Fortunately, what elicits these thoughts will help keep a fairly limited focus. 

Elections to fill a variety of city and parish offices here in Louisiana, as well as determine the favorite among those running for the Republican presidential nomination, were conducted Saturday.  A particularly egregious example of the perversity of the conservative world view was on display in the race for the councilperson-at-large seat in New Orleans.  Two of the three candidates, Stacy Head and Austin Badon, signed a  Grover Norquist style pledge to lock themselves into voting a certain way on a whole host of issues during their prospective term of office.  A business lobby with the Orwellian name Forward New Orleans  extorted this abdication of responsibility to the representative democratic process.  If you want to immediately understand what any business or conservative lobbing outfit is really striving to accomplish, just impute the opposite motive to that stated in the name of their cause.  One of the backward positions this group insists candidates commit to is a prohibition on ever requiring firms doing business with the city to recognize labor agreements.

The record will show, both here in Louisiana and around the country, that project labor agreements are a common feature of major public and private construction developments.  They provide for a comprehensive organizational and financial framework which proves mutually beneficial to the various craft employers and their workers, as well as the customer.  Of course, conservatives almost uniformly oppose the very existence of labor unions, and so they understandably look unfavorably upon the idea of such arrangements.  That is their prerogative.  However, the practice of attempting to lock down a promise by an elected official to always stand in opposition to or in favor of this or that proposition, whatever it may be, no matter the circumstances, is another question.  It is anathema to the democratic process, as well as at odds with a healthy appreciation for the nature of reality itself.

Let me give you an example of why I say this, and why it is that liberals in general have a much better handle on reality.  A former governor, Edwin Edwards, always enjoyed the support of organized labor in his many election campaigns.  I served many years as an officer both of the IBEW and Louisiana AFL-CIO, and as such participated in the process of evaluating and selecting the candidates labor would endorse.  Interviews with those seeking the endorsement were conducted by a panel of officers representing many different unions.  Long discussions covering many areas of social, political and economic concerns would transpire with each candidate.  Never, let me repeat - NEVER, was anyone asked to commit to any specific public action in exchange for our support.  No, rather the object was always to judge the overall political philosophy of the folks who came before us. 

As a result, sometimes candidates carrying our endorsement would take stands on issues while in office which on the surface might seem at odds with our best interests.  Edwards, for instance, signed a heinous "right-to-work" law during one his terms as governor.  Such a law is aimed at destroying organized labor and good paying jobs, despite its name.  At the end of the day, however, Edwards did the right thing because at the time our opponents had the power to shove the provision into the Constitution had he not signed it as a simple statute.  We understood that, and Edwards subsequently continued to enjoy our support throughout his entire career.  Such is the nature of reality, and the limits of the conservative outlook on it.

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