October 10, 2008

Democracy and the secret ballot.

Here's George McGovern opposing the "card check" bill, which Obama and many Democrats support, on the ground that keeping one's vote private is fundamental to democracy:



Via Gateway Pundit, via Mickey Kaus.

Interestingly, Obama is the Democratic nominee precisely because of the lack of private voting. His winning strategy was all about the caucus states, where your friends and neighbors see where you stand.

47 comments:

ElcubanitoKC said...

[...]His winning strategy was all about the caucus states, where your friends and neighbors see where you stand.

And where people can be more easily intimidated, bullied and influenced to vote in one direction.

Host with the Most said...

Interestingly, Obama is the Democratic nominee precisely because of the lack of private voting. His winning strategy was all about the caucus states, where your friends and neighbors see where you stand.

I am related to George McGovern by marriage. I have met him only once, at his home, during the Reagan era. I thought then that I opposed everything he ever stood for, but he made several positive comments about then President Reagan at dinner, and I began to think he wasn't all politically bad.

His library was filled mostly with WWII momentoes (he was a pilot during the war) and that's all we talked about, as I didn't want to even begin talking about his run against Nixon, or anything else political. I am now really sorry that I didn't discuss those things.

I guess my point is that he was not the bastard in person that I had believed him to be. Of course, the fact that he's now on the right side of this issue begins to make me want to rethink everything about him.

David said...

Hey--I voted for McGovern once. Perhaps it's time to do so again.

John Stodder said...

George McGovern, making me proud of my days walking precincts and making phone calls for him in 1972.

No matter what you hear in the debates, this is the #1 priority of the Democratic party, and I predict it will be the first bill Congress presents to Obama, and the first one he signs. This is the big payback for all those millions in dues-payers' money labor has expended trying to get Gore, Kerry and now Obama elected with big Democratic majorities in Congress.

With this moment in time, they'll get this passed, and suddenly all these businesses they've never been able to organize will become labor shops. It will create a virtuous circle for labor, bringing in more money to fund campaigns at all levels to get even more labor-friendly laws passed.

If you're looking for the sea-change after the 2008 election, this is it. All our adult lives, we've been reading about what a small percentage of the workforce is represented by unions. We will not be reading that anymore.

Host with the Most said...

john stodder-

I believe that you are completely right on this.

And yet Ann seems perfectly happy to have that kind of open intimidation become law in America . . .

David said...

McGovern wasn't just a pilot, and was a class A, genuine, certified 1940's grade war hero. Bob Dole and Dan Inuoe without the wounds. McGovern never trumpeted this. Imagine what he must think of John Kerry.

Beth said...

Good for McGovern. I'm certain most of the congressional Democrats from Louisiana will not vote for this. I wonder if that's true in other Southern states.

AJ Lynch said...

Isn't is easy to recognize when you see real integrity?

McGovern has it and I voted for him too. I think I was old enough then.

I would never vote for McGovern now unless he was running against Obama. Heh.

John Stodder said...

To defend Ann, I don't know if she's different from most of my Democratic friends in their inability to recognize the extent to which this specific piece of legislation is what's up for a vote in November. It's not as if Obama ever mentions it, or any of the Democrats running for Senate. It is a stealth issue, and labor is endeavoring to keep it that way. There aren't a lot of op-eds being run arguing for it. The argument against it, which McGovern makes eloquently, is far more compelling. That's the problem, and labor knows it, so it's better to get it passed in the wake of a landslide driven by other issues.

Also, and I can't speak about Ann at all on this, but I think among your typical educated person there is a lack of understanding that, yeah, labor plays rough. Not just 100 years ago, not just in Stallone movies, but right now. If you take away the secret ballot, you'll have thugs leaning on workers, telling them how to vote or else they'll need new tires. Most of us university-educated types think we are all immune to that kind of pressure, but typical working folks are highly vulnerable to it.

To be fair, though, one of the more prominent Obama supporters in the blogosphere, Mickey Kaus, is actively against card check. His view is the GOP and business interests ought to pull back from the sure-loser McCain and instead try to keep Democratic gains in the Senate below filibuster-proof majorities. To me, Obama in charge of a Congress the Democrats can't fully control is acceptable.

Doyle said...

Interestingly, Obama is the Democratic nominee precisely because of the lack of private voting.

There's some rigorous analysis.

Original George said...

He's 86.

That we should all look so well at that age.

And have our wits.

He flew 35 missions as a bomber pilot in WWII in Europe. Tough guy.

Christy said...

Makes me proud to remember I worked for McGovern's campaign when I was in school.

dr kill said...

I voted for him, too. I like to think that where he stood then he stands still, and that American opinion and culture has shifted to the left and made it seem as if he and I have changed.

I could be wrong about him.

Eli Blake said...

And yet Ann seems perfectly happy to have that kind of open intimidation become law

I criticize Ann far more often than I spring to her defense but if you stopped for a second (it wouldn't take any more than that) to realize that Ann is the one who just posted this on this blog, you'd realize how ridiculous your attack was.

chuck b. said...

"Obama is the Democratic nominee precisely because of the lack of private voting."

No, Obama is the nominee because he only votes "present".

Elliott A said...

Back in college days, I worked for UPS and became a card carrying teamster. I had no choice to join. I paid an initiation fee equal to 20 hours work, then dues out of each paycheck. When they went on strike, I couldn't work so I lost income. When I worked real hard to give myself a chance to be promoted I was pulled aside by the shop steward who basically told me to work less hard or else. At that point, I lost any sympathy for unions. I believe that almost every worker who has a choice would vote "No" if their ballot on organizing was secret, a basic right of all voting in this country. The entrenched unions destroyed all the major industries in the US by extorting pay and benefits greater than the productivity of the workers. This is why people flock to jobs with non American automakers in the US, since they saw what happened to the Big 3. They wrecked our steel industry, railroads, etc. Back in the day when my grandmother was arrested for striking, there was no other way to protect workers, since there were few federal and state laws regarding employers. Now they are another layer of hassles and expense sucking life from whatever sector of the economy they are in. Hopefully, someone will challenge any laws the Dems pass in the courts, and the SCOTUS before Obama gets the chance to place any lefties there.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

I have a unique perspective on this, having once been part of a team of people who organized a union at one of my former places of employment.

In order to have a union election at all, we did have to get a certain percentage of people to sign union cards.

I can attest that harrassment and intimidation can go the other way too. We had several of our supporters threatened, disciplined for non-existent offences or in a couple of cases fired using an obscure clause that allowed an employee there to be terminated with no reason given (because there was no legitimate reason, other than activism in working for a union) and which clause had never been invoked in the thirty some years since it had been written into the work rules.)

One of our union activists woke up one morning with his door missing (nothing was taken, just the front door). On another occasion (this was when the unabomber was in the news) we received a package at the union headquaters which turned out to contain a rock and a union card with obscenties written on it ripped in half and glued to the rock.

We had an employee who had escaped from Vietnam in a rubber dinghy some years earlier and she attended one of our meetings. She got a phone call from someone who told her that if she went to anymore meetings she might not be allowed to become a citizen (she was at the time studying for her citizenship exam) and that if she did not then she might be sent back.

We also know that there were indivduals who were asked by the administrators to attend meetings of our group and take names and report back.

Now, I do have mixed feelings about card check because Senator McGovern is right that harrassment and intimidation can certainly originate with members of the union, but it's not like union reps have a monopoly on it. Far from it.

AJ Lynch said...

Stodder, Dr. Kill, Christy and I voted for McGovern! What kind of blog are you running here Althouse? Is it a haven for a bunch of recovering Democrats?

Ron said...

Ann, this post about card check is Exhibit A to "why, if Obama-Pelosi-Reid is the team on Inaugural Day, we are thoroughly and completely screwed". The reality is that it is far easier to collectively assure that power is not in the hands of one party when voting for the President than for Congress. Since the Dems will control Congress we're all "safer" if they don't control the White House, too. And I would say the same thing if the Republicans controlled Congress, that a Dem should be in the White House. If we've learned anything over the last 20 years it is how important separation of powers is to a healthy country.

Eli Blake said...

There was also a case originating at the Wal-Mart in Kingman a few years ago in which an employee was fired for even suggesting to other employees the possibility of forming a union.

Earlier this year that employee won the case, but it is now years later and the message has been sent.

LarsPorsena said...

Another little stealth project Bo's got going is to rig radio ratings.
Apparently Arbitron got tired of people faking the written diaries re their listening habits and invented an electronic device to find out what people were really listening to
(It's called a PPM). Well, when the ratings from the newer more accurate
PPM's were calculated the results showed Talk-Radio had been grossly under-counted and the 'urban' and NPR style's figures were exaggerated. Advertising revenue for Talk goes up, Brand X goes down. That can't stand. He backs a suit against Arbitron to quit counting with real numbers.
Fits in with the attack on secret ballot, ACORN, etc. Anybody see a pattern?

John Stodder said...

I can attest that harrassment and intimidation can go the other way too. We had several of our supporters threatened, disciplined for non-existent offences or in a couple of cases fired using an obscure clause that allowed an employee there to be terminated with no reason given (because there was no legitimate reason, other than activism in working for a union) and which clause had never been invoked in the thirty some years since it had been written into the work rules.)

All of this is surely true and ought to be illegal if it isn't already.

But it is not an argument for removing the secret ballot. It's a non sequiter.

If anything, what you describe reinforces the need for a secret ballot so the worker is not subject to intimidation from anyone at the point of decision.

peter hoh said...

While Minnesota is a caucus state, the voting part of the caucus is done by secret ballot.

Synova said...

My sister worked for years to organize university grad students, because, it seems, the overwhelmingly liberal world of academia abuses grad students, taking advantage of slave wages and the fact that the students themselves have no recourse.

She found out it was "illegal."

And then she told me it was all Bush's fault.

I asked how that was possible when this had been going on forever and the people who felt entitled to the slave labor provided by graduate students were nearly all politically liberal.

Palin is closer to unions (and seems entirely supportive of the idea of unions) than any other candidate.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Having spent several years in a Union ship in my youth, and in a different shop where I hired in 2 years after the union had been busted, as well as in a shop that was so virulently anti-union that even describing the North in the Civil War with that word was a cause to be written up, I feel uniquely qualified for this topic.

Yes, there is intimidation from both sides, but the management technique is less dangerous; I never had a manager threaten to 'whup my ass' in the parking lot, although several of my 'union brothers' offered that persuasion method (although no two of them were brave enough to try; I think it was just a phrase in the manual they were given).

Unless unions have changed in the last 20 years (but since all government workers are unionized, I doubt it), the only thing worse for productivity is a strike, but only by a small percentage.

The horror stories I could tell. Union stewards DO tell folks to slow down, to not break quota (even if you can complete an hours work in 20 minutes), and do their best to make sure violators are chastened.

I will admit that alot of teh protections workers have today are hard won form union activity, and teh threat of unionization needs to exist, but the current union structure has outlived its usefulness, and this bill needs to be stopped.

Synova said...

Oh, and I can forgive Palin for that little bit of insanity.

It's not that I'm so against unions, I just think they should be a response to a particular situation... when they are needed, they're needed. But then they never go away.

Has anyone ever heard of a union who said, hey, we got our point across and the things needed fixed, fixed, and new rules written so now we're going to close up... if we're needed again, we'll be back?

Ever?

Cedarford said...

David said...
McGovern wasn't just a pilot, and was a class A, genuine, certified 1940's grade war hero. Bob Dole and Dan Inuoe without the wounds. McGovern never trumpeted this. Imagine what he must think of John Kerry.


Curiously, Nixon was like McGovern. While not in the tremendous danger McGovern was, Nixon was a key player in the island "leap frogging" strategy as commander of an air transport unit. Once the Japs realized how important the logistics were, they began strafing and bombing them at every opportunity. Nixon helped scrape up remains and pieces of his comrades, saw people near him strafed down, and once survived hiding in a small pumphouse during a night of bombing.
When Nixon emerged, he said that all around the pump house, out to 100 yards, he saw nothing but bomb craters. Every tree and bush gone. Only the pumphouse survived.

Gerald Ford was another one who minimized his WWII experience. He helped save the ship he was on as Damage Control officer.

Charles Lindhberg also minimized his WWII feats, post-war.

For some reason, others decide to capitalize on their "war hero" status. TDR and San Juan Hill, JFK and PT-109, John Kerry, McCains endless use of his POW years..

Bob Dole as a disabled Vet, found talking about service and duty a natural thing, but like Bush I (also spotlighted as the Navy's youngest combat pilot at one point) - never "featured themselves" as heroes.

No judgment. Just noting that some politicians make war years central to their biography, while others do not.

George McGovern, like Paul Newman (also a fine Vet and another liberal with common sense on many topics) is someone that most people like and occasionally delivers great ideas.
He is right on the secret ballot.

Another poster nailed the problem with caucuses. Especially in a Party as riddled with race, class, gender politics as the deomocrats - and the consequences for those who deviate from the "correct candidate" or the "correct stance" on an issue - openly.

AJ Lynch said...

Synova:

Good question. Has any organization like a union ever said "well we did our jobs, time to close up and go home".

When Rudy Guiliani cleaned up New York crime, did judges and D.A.s get downsized due to smaller caseloads? Did NYC layoff coroners when murder rate plummeted? When Ge. Barry McCafrey was Clinton's Drug czar, he never stopped identifying and warning us of the next drug scourge. When the war on crime has been won, will they tell us? Heh. I doubt it.

Cedarford said...

I am not as anti-union as I once was. Who speaks for the middle class in DC?
Certainly not the "globalist" Republicans anymore or their near clones the old "work-not-required! redistributionist or Clintonian NAFTA Democrats (outside Gov't employee unions).

The unions do.

No force in America was more responsible, for their many flaws, in creating a stable middle class with good wages that believed that the future would be better for their kids - than the unions.

When unions diminish in industries under a "democratic capitalist system", wealth predictably concentrates in the hands of a few Elites.
Authoritarian capitalist Asian systems, if they are not corrupt and have a goal of creating a broad middle class (like Singapore, Japan, Malaysia) can do this with only a partialized or non-union workforce.

China is a flawed example - since corruption is rife - but China has still tripled the standard of living of it's people in the last 20 years and 86% of it's citizens believe China is moving in the right direction.

Seven Machos said...

What? You guys don't want more American companies to look more like General Motors and less like Whole Foods or Wal-Mart?

AJ Lynch said...

I am not anti-union. My grandfather was a coalminer. I was in the Teamsters for 5-6 years during college.

The union model has outlived its usefulness. Not sure what exactly form the replacement model should look like.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you or me.
"But Joe," I cried, "You're ten years dead!"
"You wanna shut up and show me your card, or you need Rocco here to explain it to you?" said he.

SGT Ted said...

Unions don't speak for the middle class. They speack for the union. period. Otherwise, they wouldn't demand that they receive their union dues or demand no cutbacks.

When a company is tanking and both woker and management are losing their jobs, the unions don't lay off anyone.

PatCA said...

Okay, last week we lost the rule of law when the Congress allowed the Property Commissar...er, Manager to change the interest rate and principal of a home loan.

Next, we are losing the secret ballot in workplace elections.

I'm sure Obama and his cohorts will use their powers wisely, though, right?

MPorcius said...

The issue LarsPorsena, about radio ratings methods, is interesting, so I looked up an article about it. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing Arbitron, the company that measures ratings, because the new, more accurate, system suggests that fewer people listen to black and Latino stations than was previously believed. This new system could, thus, lead to lower revenues for minority owned radio stations.

Here is the article:
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssTechMediaTelecomNews/idUSN1038804920081010

MarkW said...

Here's George McGovern opposing the "card check" bill, which Obama and many Democrats support, on the ground that keeping one's vote private is fundamental to democracy...

He's right about this, of course, but the same threat exists with government elections with the expansion of vote-by-mail and 'no excuses' absentee ballots. There's no way to know such voting is not monitored by 'interested parties' or subject to intimidation. Let's make a point of keeping the secret ballot in all elections, please.

Pogo said...

Unions it is!

I can't wait. When Obama and the Democrats make their National Health Care laws, I'll be right behind them signing up doctors in non-secret ballots for the new physicians union.

Strikes! Work slow downs!
Productivity declines.
Pay increases!
Graft!

Thanks, Dems.
I'll enjoy my suckling on the gummint teat until she runs dry as a popcorn fart.

AJ Lynch said...

Mprocius:

The Reuters article you linked to has no substantive information about the details or evidence for filing the suit.

Reuters story basically says "Waaa Waaa Waaa Arbitron is mean to minorities".

blake said...

I'd like to object to the phrase "dry as a popcorn fart".

Is there a secret ballot somewhere?

blake said...

Mmmm. Unions.

What could be better for restoring economic prosperity?

How about higher taxes!

That always works!

Also: More regulation. Nothing stimulates the economy like a big, fat encyclopedic SarbOx-style set of rules!

Awesome!

Revenant said...

I will admit that alot of teh protections workers have today are hard won form union activity

Actually, most of the protections workers have today are mandated by the government. They aren't the result of collective bargaining.

Unions made sense when the government was small and unobtrusive, and businesses were largely free to run themselves the way they saw fit. Today they're just another layer of bureaucracy leeching off the actually productive members of society.

The Drill SGT said...

Mark me down as another ex-Teamster McGovern Voter (72)

and yeah, when I cam back from Nam to my Union job at the cannery there were clearly 3-4 guys on both the company payroll in cushie make work jobs who also doubled as the Teamster muscle at the beck and call of the shop steward. slashed tires were the least of it. much worse accidents could happen. For example, we peeled tomatoes with a lye bath. bad stuff, lye. accidents happen even in the safest plant, even to folks not normally on the bath line.

card check is an abomination that Obama backs as payback to his corrupt union pals. so much for looking out for middle America.

Freeman Hunt said...

Having witnessed the goings-on of the teachers' union versus the school board and administration while growing up, having had family that worked alongside Teamsters, and having owned both American and Asian automobiles, I can't say that I have the slightest shred of faith in unions. I think that they generally poison every industry they touch. (I can see why some people in high risk professions might have good cause for unions, but other than that, no.)

If I owned a company and there was talk of unionization, my first impulse would be to make an announcement that if the company goes union, everyone will be fired and the entire company will be sold, capital and all, piece by piece.

I would appreciate it if someone could allay my union cynicism by listing off some good things unions have accomplished or bad things they have prevented in modern times. (I'm looking for things like needed safety rules, not raises and pensions.)

John K. said...

Lysander Spooner on the secret ballot:

"No body of men can be said to authorize a man to act as their agent, to the injury of a third person, unless they do it in so open and authentic a manner as to make themselves personally responsible for his acts. None of the voters in this country appoint their political agents in any open, authentic manner, or in any manner to make themselves responsible for their acts. Therefore these pretended agents cannot legitimately claim to be really agents. Somebody must be responsible for the acts of these pretended agents; and if they cannot show any open and authentic credentials from their principals, they cannot, in law or reason, be said to have any principals.... If any number of men, many or few, claim the right to govern the people of this country, let them make and sign an open compact with each other to do so. Let them thus make themselves individually known to those whom they propose to govern. And let them thus openly take the legitimate responsibility of their acts."

AllenS said...

Times certainly have changed in America since WWII, haven't they? Does anybody realize that McGovern, while serving his country in a very dangerous job, bombed civilian targets?

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Revenant said... Actually, most of the protections workers have today are mandated by the government. They aren't the result of collective bargaining.

Union advances from the 1920's and '30's were enshrined into federal law in the '40's and 50's. Would they have become law without the hard fought battles of the unions? Possibly, but I wouldn't want to bet on the possibility.

The more global our economy becomes the less we need artifically high wages.

Part of our problem now is still WWII and the Marshall Plan. In the late 40's & early '50's we were the manufacturing center for the world, and the labor shortage lead to wages that became out of line with the rest of the labor market.

By the time our competition came back on line we were fighting the Cold War and Vietnam, and the War on Poverty. This influx of government money delayed the inevitable; we cannot continue to pay wages twice what our competition does and expect to compete. For years our massive lead in technology kept us twice as productive as the rest of the world, but that edge is gone.

One of two things needs to happen. US wages need to drop to bring us in line with our competition, or the rest of the world needs to raise its wage rate to our level.

With the increases in a viable middle class in China I think we are seeing an international wage increase, so our wages may not need to drop as far, but we still need to see a pay cut.

The service industry is leading the way, and manufacturing will return to this country when we are able to manufature for $10 an hour, not $40.

I always have said it is my generation (those born between 1960 and 1985) who will live rough, while the coutry re-adjusts to a 'Good" wage of $15, but once wages and prices have become stable at the lower, more sustainable rate, our children will live well again.

9 years ago (at 40) I left being a machinist to get a paralegal degree because I saw the way things were headed, and never looked back.