by Taylor Marsh
There's a reason John Edwards is way ahead of the Democratic presidential pack in a recent Iowa poll, and even leads John McCain in a national trial heat. Edwards is reaching people on issues that impact a segment of this country that have been left behind by Mr. Bush: the middle class.
Democratic populism is back, baby. Just in time, if you ask me.
Senator-elect James Webb talked about it during the campaign, then offered a stunning piece on "class struggle" in the Wall Street Journal after the election.
Senator-elect Sherrod Brown ran on it. His next target is BigPharma.
So did Senator-elect Claire McCaskill, as did Senator-elect Jon Tester.
So having Edwards up front and center on the subject simply takes their 2006 campaigns to the next logical level.
Edwards is on a roll. He's got his patter down on Iraq. He's got Elizabeth Edwards next to him, which is a secret campaign weapon as far as I'm concerned. But when he starts talking about poverty, the middle class and how to fix the problem, that's when his rhetoric meets the road.
Card check is just one part of the union story that Edwards favors. What is it? It's part of the Employee Free Choice Act, which has a lot of support in Congress already. There's more about from PaulVA's Kos diary. No doubt the "National Right to Work" people will fight it.
Edwards nailed the subject on "Hardball" recently.
MATTHEWS: Are you for the card check?
J. EDWARDS: I am for the card check.
MATTHEWS: You think that's fair to be able to have four people from a labor union, big people come up to a little person and say you're going to vote for the union, aren't you? You're going to vote for the union, aren't you?
Today the law says you have to have a big meeting and everybody has to be there to vote for the union. You're saying--the card check says all you need is 51 percent of the people to be individually talked into signing a card and you think that's OK.
J. EDWARDS: I think it's democracy. I do.
MATTHEWS: But not having an election?
J. EDWARDS: It's democracy because what happens is the way the system has been loaded up is the employers bring in these union busters who are exerts at busting the union. They sometimes violate the law. The way the enforcement works is almost nonexistent. Three or four years down the road there's a slap on the wrist.
All I want is I want to see a level playing field. If employees want to join a union, democratically they ought to be able to do that. If they don't, they can choose not to.
MATTHEWS: OK, the average person is working at the mill, they're working on the job and they're on the machine, and four guys come up to them, big guys, they go up and say sign this card, we want to start a union here. And that little person goes I'd rather not. You'd rather not? Isn't that kind of intimidating for a person?
J. EDWARDS: But why would you assume it's the fellow employees who are going to intimidate...
MATTHEWS: Because it's the outside labor organizations.
J. EDWARDS: ... them instead of the guy who's writing their check?
MATTHEWS: Because if they international union guys come in. I'm asking you a question. Do you think that shows independence our your part, or the fact that you're in bed with labor.
J. EDWARDS: I think it shows that I am a complete believer in workers having a voice and being able to collectively bargain. I don't think we have a problem in America with big, multinational corporations being able to have their voice heard. Their voice is heard loud and clear.
Hardball transcripts (emphasis added)
I joined my first union before I was 20. Subsequently, I ended up joining four performance unions. They made a real difference in my life. Currently, I'm on honorary withdrawal from them all, but I haven't forgotten their importance. My recent SEIU sponsored coverage of the nurse lock-out in Las Vegas drove it home.
John Edwards is talking about something that matters, not only to people struggling, but to the entire American way of life. As the middle class goes so goes this country. With the new Congress elected and so many populists now in office, John Edwards is telling a tale that will have many people jumping on board; mainly because they're already waiting for that train to visit their state.
This is going to get interesting.