Legislative & Political Dept.
Democrats Making History
(This article by Legislative & Political Department officers Myke Reid and Steve Albanese first appeared in the January/February 2009 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By any measure, the presidential and congressional elections were significant. The new occupant of the White House will be a Democrat and both sides of the Capitol are now clearly controlled by the party as well.
After a long and rigorous campaign, the decisive outcome was fairly quick. Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States with 365 electoral votes, and opponent John McCain received 173. The country was ready to make a change and voted to do so in record numbers all over the country. States such as Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia that historically have voted for Republicans all went into the Democratic column this time.
As we go to press, we know that the new Senate will be made up of 57 Democrats, 40 Republicans, and 2 Independents, both of whom typically caucus as Democrats. One Senate seat, in Minnesota, is still undecided. Democrats will control that chamber with either 58 or 59 seats. On the House side, Democrats picked up 24 seats and hold a 257 to 178 advantage over their GOP counterparts.
When the last post-election analysis is completed it will no doubt show that the American labor movement played a major role in bringing about these historic changes. The APWU, along with other unions all over the country, allocated resources and manpower to this effort. The APWU membership contributed to COPA in record numbers throughout the last two national-election cycles (2004-2006 and 2006-2008), which meant we were able to contribute nearly $5million to candidates who support our positions and will vote in favor of working families.
Hundreds of APWU volunteers worked for these candidates all over the country, manning phone banks, knocking on doors, registering new voters, and helping to get out the vote on Election Day and before. Our five APWU Grassroots Coordinators travelled throughout their respective regions to work with the AFL-CIO Labor 2008 program that assure that the interests of workers were addressed strongly in this election.
What Happens Now?
Our work is not over, in fact, in many ways, it has only just begun. Our nation is confronting major foreign and domestic issues: We are faced with enormous challenges in healthcare, the national economy, joblessness, energy, the environment, and in waging two wars.
None of these problems will be resolved overnight, but we believe that the decisions made by the American people on Nov. 4 have started us on a course to correct many of them. Partisan stalemates, we hope, are a thing of the past, thanks to a new president with a clear and practical vision for the future, and a Congress that will back him up as he makes the necessary changes.
Working people nationwide have faced hard times over the last eight years, and they voiced their anger at the ballot box, and they demand results. Make no mistake about it: Workers will be back in 2010 to again render a verdict on how our government is performing.
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