Why the Labor-Backed ‘One Nation’ Rally Failed to Measure Up

By October 5, 2010Labor Unions

Byron York of The Examiner answers the question of why the “One Nation” rally organized by Big Labor last Saturday failed to match the earlier Glenn Beck Rally.

Because the labor movement is shrinking, aging and divided. Because the best program its leaders (and co-sponsors at the NAACP) could put together was one featuring Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Richard Trumka, Van Jones and Harry Belafonte. And because George W. Bush is no longer in the White House. Put those factors together, and Big Labor’s big march fell flat

York notes several points we cited prior to the march: The public sector unions are growing, the private sector ones shrinking.

In broad terms, the public-sector unions lean farther left, while the private-sector unions still count among their number old-fashioned blue-collar moderates who don’t necessarily want to pay higher taxes to hire more public-sector employees. “The differences between them aren’t violent, angry, screaming differences,” says Fred Siegel, a scholar in residence at New York’s St. Francis College and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, “but they’re important differences.”

What does a tired and aging movement do? It puts on a program with tired and aging leaders. Sharpton has long ago worn out his welcome among anyone beyond the hard-core Democratic base; the same is true for [Jesse] Jackson. The 83-year-old Belafonte’s appearance at the rally was impressive, but mostly as a vision from an earlier era. Trumka’s appeal does not go beyond the labor movement, and the young gun in the group, Van Jones, left the White House last year amid scandal. It wasn’t exactly an all-star lineup.

Is “impressive” the right term for Belafonte’s remarks? He railed against President Obama and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were a union member who believes those military efforts are justified, you were out of place at the One Nation rally. If you were a union member who did not support the hard-left “progressive” agenda at the rally, well, why were you there?

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