Neoliberalism Isn’t Working

Re “The 7,383-Seat Strategy Is Working” by Joan Walsh [September 7/14]: There is not one word in this article about why the Democrats lost nearly 1,000 state races during Barack Obama’s presidency. Mainly it was because of the party’s neoliberal policies, which work against its traditional constituencies of the working and middle classes. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both proponents of these policies, and the effects at the state level were disastrous for the party.

Democrats are picking up seats now because of Donald Trump’s unpopularity and his incompetent handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. But as long as the Democratic establishment shuns its progressive base (as dramatically illustrated by its choice of speakers at the party’s national convention), this uptick will be temporary and may be followed in the long term by renewed Republican gains. The neoliberals represent only a tiny sliver of the electorate and are kept in power solely by big money and media influence.

Caleb Melamed

The Real Norma Rae

Re “There Is Power Without a Union” by P.E. Moskowitz [September 7/14]: The iconic full-page photo in your article shows Sally Field as Norma Rae, standing on a work table holding high a hand-drawn sign that simply says “Union.” In The Nation’s version, however, “Union” is crossed out and replaced by “Workers United.” This is a hoax on many levels. The white working-class Southern woman who took this courageous stand at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., wrote “Union” for a reason. For workers, there is power in the union. That’s why, in response, all the workers in that department shut down their machines.

For at least the last 25 years of her life, I was among the closest friends of Crystal Lee Sutton, the real Norma Rae. Despite a bureaucratic union leadership often collaborating with bosses and selling out the workers, Crystal maintained over the decades until the day she died that “even a piece of a union is better than no union at all.” She knew the union was her vehicle to full human dignity—and the film on her life was excellent on the woman question as well as the labor question.

Moskowitz’s “hero,” Adam Ryan, makes some valid criticisms of current labor leadership and points to Occupy Wall Street and the wildcat teacher strikes in 2018 as positive influences on him. The marvelous wildcat strikes, however, were launched by organized union teachers—one of several instances in which Moskowitz unwittingly demonstrates that even a piece of a union is better than no union at all.

Moskowitz alleges that “many Americans simply do not want to join unions” as an argument against workers’ organizing them. Let’s remember that many Americans simply do not want to wear masks, either. Moskowitz should stop toying with the working class.

Richard Koritz
Solidarity Representative
American Postal Workers Union

greensboro, n.c.