3 comments January 7th, 2010at 07:28am Posted by Eli
Peter Daou had a great piece a couple of days ago about how Obama’s utter lack of moral clarity is demoralizing his progressive base, which I think is complemented by this Mike Elk piece about how Democrats have historically benefited from backing labor and suffered for betraying it. My favorite part:
Truman didn’t give up his fight against Taft-Hartley. He dug in his heels and went around the country in 1948 on a 22,000-mile whistle-stop train tour, campaigning against big corporations that wanted to strip workers of their rights as part of his broader Fair Deal program. Workers remembered what a fighter Truman was from his fight against Taft-Hartley and stuck by him, delivering an unexpected Electoral College landslide, with Truman winning 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189.
Truman never was successful in repealing Taft- Hartley. However, it was a battle worth losing because, in the process, he won the larger war as being a champion of the working class.
I think there’s an important lesson there. It’s better to fight for the right thing and lose than it is to fight for the wrong thing and win, because you’ve forced the opposition to stake out a position clearly in the wrong, rather than (however accidentally) in the right. Not to mention the fact that the resulting electoral victories may eventually make it possible to fight for the right thing and actually win.
Obama and the Democrats would do well to learn this lesson rather than chasing hollow, Pyrrhic victories, but I don’t see much evidence that they ever will.