The sight of leaders of a number of major trade unions praising President Donald Trump after their meeting with him on Jan. 23 is perhaps the perfect illustration of everything wrong with the labor movement. More importantly, it demonstrates just how hollow President Trump’s rhetoric about defending workers and putting people “back to work” truly is.
For while Trump talks about investing in infrastructure and rebuilding America, ostensibly with the goal of improving the lives of workers, his administration is planning a full-scale offensive on workers and their standards of living. Fluent in doublespeak, Trump is able to posture as a friend of workers while in fact being a ruthless predator bent on the further evisceration of the working class. In that sense he’s not much different than other politicians.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up