Home » politics » Mayoral Election Exposes Fissure Among Liberals

Mayoral Election Exposes Fissure Among Liberals


Boston is the capital of liberalism–a tradition we have followed since we were a British colony in revolt.  So it was not surprising that the two finalists in the Boston mayoral race were liberals–or, as we like to be called now, progressives.

This past mayoral race exposed a kink in the progressive movement, however. Progressives better hope that that kink does not destroy the progressive movement from the inside out.

The kink became apparent in the mayoral run-off race between Rep. Marty Walsh and Councilor John Connolly. There was a definitive demographic difference between Walsh’s supporters and Connolly’s supporters. These two different demographics formed the Democratic coalition that swept Obama into office twice. However, a coalitional shift is underway–the kink in the progressive armor is ominous for the Democratic Party’s future.

In 2012, Obama received 93% of the African-America vote; 71% of the Latino vote; 73% of the Asian-American vote. Furthermore, Obama received 60% of the vote from people who did not graduate high school. These numbers show that Obama, and, hence, the Democratic Party, have a firm foothold with minorities–particularly working-class minorities. This represents only one component of his coalition. Educated or professional people–both white and people of color–constitute an integral part of the Democratic coalition. It was necessary for Obama to keep educated professionals in his corner to overcome the 39-59% deficit in the white vote that Obama faced. Among those who have completed post-graduate study, Obama won 55% to 42%.

But once again we return to that word “kink.” And here is the kink in the Democratic Coalition: Educated white Obama supporters dropped by 5%. Romney won educated white women 52% to 48%. The coalition that brought the Democrats into power in the House and Senate in ’06, and peaked in ’08 with the election of President Obama, is starting to shift to the right. The coalition of working-class minorities and educated whites has been the Democratic formula for success throughout the past two decades. And that winning coalition is waning, shifting to the right (well, the educated white segment of the Democratic Coalition is shifting to the right).

The heart-wrenching break-up was apparent in the Boston Mayoral Race despite the fact that both candidates were Democrats. Marty put together a coalition of working-class whites and blacks. He is a transformational figure in that he was able to pull all working class people together, despite their ethnicity, into a winning coalition.

John Connolly did well with educated people, particularly educated whites. Connolly’s supporters were particularly critical of Walsh’s support of unions.

The incessant criticism of unions by the Connolly people–their irrational fear of unions–is something the Democrats should be worried about. It is obvious that the Democratic Coalition is splintering. And in analyzing the Boston Mayoral Race, one can see why the two components of the coalition are starting to divorce.

The educated whites that supported Connolly think they have no investment in a party or candidate that came up through the unions and remains a strong supporter of unions. They fear that if the unions get their way the city will be bankrupt and big business will be driven out of town. The Democrats need these educated whites and they need union support as well. The Party depends on donations from both components of the coalition, and the massive ground game union men and women carry out exceptionally well.

This fear of organized labor on the part of educated whites who are Democrats but are beginning to leave the party is a national phenomenon, and the Boston Mayoral Race has elucidated the problem.

The solution–the mending of the Democratic Coalition–rests on the shoulders of the men and women of organized labor. Rid your local of corruption; get involved in your union; demonstrate to the country that unions are not selfish institutions, but a necessary bulwark against the greed of big corporations; Fight to get unions into retail giants like Wal-Mart; demonstrate the compassion union men and women have for all working people, not just unionized working-people; in fact, unions should be more effective at helping non-union shops organize if they so desire.

The only way to heal the division in the party is to show educated white Democrats that unions are helping to promote the same principles that they subscribe to–mainly, stopping corporate greed and corruption. The unions must re-brand themselves as the final defense in the attempt of big business–avaricious billionaire CEO’s–to turn this country into Ayn Rand’s dream: a completely laissez faire country with no social safety nets; all New Deal legislation repealed; a corporatocracy. Our principles are one, so let us fight to keep the Democratic Party one.


15 Comments

  1. Chris Leahy says:

    The unions actions leave the impression that they are selfish and greedy and their actions will work to run this great city into the dirt. Their actions leave the impression they would stand in between the success of children for over time pay and the shortest work day in the nation. As if any hard working person gets over time or a raise. Get over your selves, get over your hard work and welcome to reality. And if you want to change reality well don’t make me pay for it, enact societal change that brings wealth and business into alignment so we can all work together. And how the heck can anyone think Marty Walsh who earns $395K is one of us?

    • navangelus says:

      Working-class people accused of being greedy–I feel like I’m staring through the looking glass. Actual wages of working-class people have remained stagnant since the 1980’s. That decade, and our thoroughly anti-union president began the destruction of the unions, and The Koch Brothers and their astro-turf movement are trying to finish off the last bulwark against corporate corruption. You have become a victim of right wing propaganda. Do you truly believe that working-class people asking for decent medical care, decent pay, and 8 hour work days (tell me do you work more than 8 hours a day–so why are you misinforming my readers that somehow working-class folks work less?) are somehow asking more than they deserve. The work that working men and women do everyday is just as important as the work you do, sir. Without their work, you would not be living in a functional city; yet, they receive less-and-less. Is it so hard to see that the avarice in this country comes from the corporate parasites on Wall Street that gave out bad loans. They knew that the housing bubble they created would burst. So what did these greedy, unethical, un-American, parasites do?–They bet against the economy. Millions of working-class people lost their homes. Yet, people susceptible to right wing propaganda, somehow find a way to blame unions and the working-class people they represent. I’m peering through the looking-glass right now, and it makes me wonder how former progressives and intelligent people cannot see the source of our problems–the source of unquenchable greed: It comes from the top, i.e., corporations–not working-class folks whose last protection are the unions. Anyway, please enjoy this weekend, which you would not be enjoying if it were not for unions.

      • Paul J. Adams Sr. says:

        I’ve been working since I was 16 Years old. Mostly all of my Jobs were Union. The only ones that were Non-Union were Summer Jobs when I was a Kid. That said, I come from a very humble beginning. Growing up in the Projects being raised by a single Mother. The Union was a Life Saver for me. It allowed me to raise my Son Paul Jr. He’s grown up to be a very smart young Man because of a great Education which his Mom and I were able to afford…Thank You Union. I’ve been able to purchase a Home in South Boston…Thank you Union. Most importantly, being in a Union provided me with an opportunity to give back to my Union Brothers and Sisters. Over the Years the Unions, under the Umbrella of the AFL/CIO have advocated for a Living Wage, Safe Working Environments, a Forty Hour Work Week, Collective Bargaining, a Safety Net to protect Workers from over Zealous Managers etc. etc. etc. However, today’s Unions have a much more difficult task at hand…The attempt by the Right-Wing to dismantle all Unions. It very simple Math…The less we have to Pay an American Living Wage – the more Profit for the Company. It’s that simple! The Koch Brothers are the “Flag Bearers” of this assault on Working Men and Woman. People often ask me…”What’s going on in this Country with this Anti-Union Movement”? My answer, “We lost our Moral Compass”! Somewhere along the way it became acceptable to care less about ones Loyal Employees, and care more about the Bottom Line! Thank God we still have elected Officials that still have the Onions to fight for Workers Rights. I will continue to support the Union!

    • Paul Adams says:

      Well, my honorable, good friend. I’m still confused. Maybe a personal story will demonstrate the suffering of what is left of the working-class/the lower middle-class. Since you are a good friend, and an honorable friend, I will try to remain rational, and only let emotion seep through when I talk about my mother who passed back in ’08. My mother wanted a better life for me. She cleaned houses on the weekends. That’s right, she spent the weekends on the floors of wealthy people in their Victorian-styled scrubbing away, cleaning toilets, cleaning the mess left by spoiled children who were using modems for the internet before I even knew what it was: the “haves and the have nots.” Throughout the week she worked at the Brigham and Women at night telecom. Often times, I would have to stay at her co-workers houses, and I was always so scared–I wanted to be in my own bed. But I understood that my beautiful, hard-working Mom was doing what she had to do for us. She was stronger in spirit than any man I’ve ever known. She was able to put herself through nursing school as a single-mother. She believed in her heart that the American Dream is out there if you work hard enough. And she achieved it. Do you honestly believe that you somehow ever worked hard than my mother, who besides working her full-time job, took jobs at places like the Marion Manor to pay the bills–particular my High School tuition. I get a kick out of people who were handed everything in life, but yet they have the audacity to call a union woman like my mom lazy. She was the site rep. for the MNA. And you know what they fought for?–the patient. Quality care can only be given if there is a proper ratio between nurse and patient. Wow!–What a selfish act. My good friend, the Koch Brothers have a plan to wipe out unions. It is a master plan. I swear that this is not a conspiracy theory. The Kochs had their own general counsel argue in favor of Citizens’ United: The Supreme Court may have planted the seeds. What will grow from these seeds will strip us of our ability to have a fair campaign process. Now corporations can open up war chests and flood money into battleground states. The Koch Brothers have already started doing this. Their next step is to wipe out unions. They funded Governor Walker’s campaign. His first act was to screw the middle-class by pretty much wiping out unions. Why begin to wipe out unions?–they are the biggest donators to Democratic candidates–especially progressive candidates. These parasites are infecting our electoral process and thus our legislative process. Why has Congress refused to work with President Obama? While John Boehner may be the Speaker of the House and the leader of the Republican Party in the House (only in name), has no control over the 51 congressman that used Tea Party funds to win their seats. In reality, the leader of the Tea Party caucus are the Koch Brothers. As ideologues their far-right agenda means more to them than the health of our democratic-republic. And there are plenty of examples: the debt ceiling debate (A debate that should not be debated at all); they were willing to sacrifice the full faith and credit of the United States’ obligation to pay back its loans. Ideologues will inflict damage and hurt others to get what they want. Their allegiance is to their ideology, and their ideological leaders: The Kochs. Let me add this parenthetical thought: can you name other groups who choose their extreme ideological tenets over the value of human life? Millions would have suffered if The United States didn’t pay its bills. It would have destroyed the economy. And you know who would suffer?–people like my mother and father, my elderly neighbor, working-class people in general. Unions are all the protection that these very hard-working men and women have. Go work as a laborer for a week my friend–you’ll be begging to back to you corporate office. The Middle-Class is the backbone of this country. Whenever the middle-class thrives, this country thrives. It is time, right now, to start fighting back!

  2. Chris says:

    Weekend… if a person wants to get ahead in society, there are no weekends. Work does not stop, though I spend time with my family I am connected (there is no judgment here only fact). Your propaganda may be right but it does not match reality. Unions seem to hold on to the victories of the past and it seems to imply that unions need do nothing more. In fact there is a lot to do. Unions and in particular public unions are a monopoly. There are not multiple police unions competing for members in Boston. Further, unions have an implicit contract, one that says for certain benefits and salary we will give you excellence. So lets address excellence. BTU gets their members great benefits. The work is a challenge so they deserve it, but when faced with high drop out rates or poor test scores or cutting of after school programs etc. they say ‘not my problem’. The result has been that half of Boston students are educated outside the public school system. The only change has been recently with a reinvigorated city that is trying to retain funding. The change has led to an influx of K 1/2 students and if the city can keep the quality of education up then they retain these students. The re-invigoration has to do with (in part) City based charter schools which have freed up resources locked up by contracts. Please note you do not see older students returning to BPS, unless it is to the charter school system. Another example of union excellence- Autos… for 20 year US automakers have produced low quality cars and what has happened? Loss of market share. GM commanded 40+% of the market and today thanks to a variety of factors, one being union craftsmanship, is a 20% market share as people got tired of buying crappy cars. The market has stopped buying the crappy propaganda. You wrote a great analysis of a fracture in the democratic coalition. If you truly believe this to be true (does not mean you need to think it right) then you should see some merit in the points. There is work to be done. Unions need to prove themselves.

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    • Paul Adams says:

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