Your Humble Blogger is feeling, alas, uninspired today. I do like to write something about Labor Day, about Labor that is, but as I say, I am feeling uninspired.
I guess I have a question, which is this: given that Labor Unions used to provide the function of informing a large number of people about current political activity and how it affects them, who do you see potentially taking over that function? I am looking for something more specific than ’blogs’; blogs may be a tool for informing people, but the existence of blogs has not, it seems, done much to keep large numbers of people informed. Nor would I expect it to—people who aren’t watching the news or reading the newspapers or otherwise keeping informed one way or another are not likely to be reading political blogs. Nor is there any easy way to find a blog that will (as your Union meeting used to) tell you how such-and-such a piece of legislation will affect you at your workplace or in your town.
I suspect that many people are being informed by their churches, and by people associated with those churches, so that’s one possibility. I suppose that it’s possible that employers will take up the task, being freed up to do more of that by the Citizens United decision. It’s somewhat easier, in this internetty age, for one passionate person in an extended family to do it, although, you know, we delete those emails, don’t we?
I’m not just talking about political mobilization, but—y’all see the surveys that come out that show that half the country doesn’t know the names of any Supreme Court Justices, or who the Speaker of the House is, or what party their Senators and Representatives are from, or what bits of legislation have recently passed or are up, or all that sort of thing. This vacuum is a Bad Thing, clearly, not only because it is a terrible block to making a democratic society, but because it leaves people very vulnerable to the untruths of demagogues. I don’t expect everybody to be a political junkie, and I don’t expect that everybody will want to vote, but basic civic knowledge used to be more widespread than it is now. I am persuaded (obviously) that the narrowing of political knowledge is because of the narrowing of union membership. Union membership, which wasn’t always entirely voluntary of course, meant a certain amount of political talk which also wasn’t entirely voluntary (in the sense that you couldn’t escape it, not that you were compelled to voice a particular position, although of course the latter did happen now and then). It wasn’t a perfect system for creating a democratic society and a democratic people, but it was a damned good one. I don’t see what replaces it.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,