Who Are They Listening To?

Ever feel like no one is listening when you speak? Your spouse? Your kids?

How about the members of Congress who make and enact the laws that govern our nation and affect you and your family on a daily basis? (Now there’s a question that begs the answer if ever there was one.)

In “Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class,” Kevin Drum, a Princeton political scientist, writes about this very issue.

” … American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartles studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.”

Drum’s central premise, with respect to the Democratic Party, is that unions used to be the strong base of the Democratic Party. The Party listened to and depended on union support and the votes of their members for the carrying out of a Democratic agenda.

But that isn’t the case today. As unions have been assaulted and have lost their numbers and influence over the last forty years, the Democratic Party has “lost” its base. So, it has turned to another demographic for its support, votes, and money as it seeks to compete with the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has turned to big business and the wealth class and has, like the Republican Party, become a party of and for the “monied.”

Consequently, the working and middle classes no longer have a political party to represent them in Washington, D.C. and the Democratic Party is no longer the party of working men and women.

Drum concludes his excellent article on this very relevant issue with these words …

“If the left ever wants to regain the vigor that powered earlier eras of liberal reform, it needs to rebuild the infrastructure of economic populism that we’ve ignored for too long. Figuring out how to do that is the central task of the new decade.


Kevin Drum’s article was published in the March/April 2011 issue of Mother Jones.

Read “Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class” here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Economics, Labor, Politics, Social-Economic Justice, Unions

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