For a few brief moments over these last few weeks, I almost let wishful thinking overcome common sense and reason and almost believed right would overcome wrong, good overcome evil, and liberty overcome statism. In hindsight, however, it truly was wishful thinking and it was brief, that momentary lapse of reason, that fool’s folly of letting myself even ponder for a minute that Mitt Romney had a snowball’s chance in hell to actually pull it off.
Last night’s loss was destined to happen regardless whether Mitt Romney or the Archangel Michael were on the ballot. Beelzebub would still have still won.
Perhaps, at some point, after all the finger pointing and circular firing squads have stopped pointing fingers and shooting at each other, and after the talking heads have stopped hypothesizing about why Mitt Romney is not the 45th President of the United States, someone will dig a little deeper and realize that, what the Left accomplished on Tuesday was not an accident. Barack Obama’s victory certainly wasn’t based on merit, nor was it based on a lack of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney, or his being a bad candidate (though there is an argument to be had there).
Tuesday’s loss boiled down to two simple things that the Right still doesn’t quite get:
It came down to boots on the ground, and leaving egos at the door.
Before getting into the history of how this happened, here’s a run down on what just a few of the larger unions did over these last few weeks:
- The SEIU put 100,000 “volunteers” on the ground in swing states.
- AFSCME put 65,000 members into action
- The National Education Association claimed to have 175,000 working the campaign
- “Ohio alone, which is increasingly likely to determine the outcome of the presidential race, has nearly 3,500 educator volunteers in 87 of the state’s 88 counties.”
- Teamster efforts included:
- 400 Teamsters participated in the program full time
- More than 500,000 worksite contacts
- 100,000 Teamster contacts through the national Teamsters phone bank
- 124 direct mail pieces developed and more than 3 million pieces of mail sent to Teamster members
- Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters contacted through additional phone programs including state specific teleforums with General President Hoffa and a national leadership call with Vice President Biden
- Social media outreach including text messaging notifications for volunteer opportunities, early vote programs and voting reminders
- The Laborers’ Union (LIUNA):
- “LIUNA mailed more than 700,000 pieces of mail, made more than 350,000 phone calls and dedicated more than 400 full-time staff to President Obama’s re-election. Twenty-five Local Union telephone town halls and three national telephone town halls were held, including one on Election Eve which drew more than 30,000 members, 3,000 of whom were in Ohio….On Election Day, an estimated 7,000 LIUNA members worked in precincts.”
- The Steelworkers:
- “…[T]he USW amassed 4,100 trained volunteers, plus another 2,900 worksite union members to pass out 2.1 million candidate handbills. Election Day reports filed show 18,315 shifts of USW volunteers and retirees in the battleground states doing block walks and door knocking. During the past two weeks in those states, USW members knocked on 173,800 doors. Another 376,790 direct campaign mailers were sent to USW active and retired members who resided in the battleground states.”
For months, the majority of unions’ efforts have concentrated on the swing states.
“We did deliver those states,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the federation of labor unions. “Without organized labor, none of those would have been in the president’s column.”
What few realize is that Barack Obama’s re-election, spearheaded and funded by union bosses, is a direct result of a fight that took place over seven years ago, in 2005, between union bosses.
Outside of those following union issues back then, many do not realize how the rift between the SEIU’s Andy Stern and his fellow union bosses which caused the split in the AFL-CIO that remains today would shape America’s politics in 2012.
It was in 2005, during the AFL-CIO’s 50th-anniversary convention that the SEIU’s Andy Stern and the Teamsters’ James P. Hoffa led a split that, ironically, centered on the union movement’s practice of focusing on politics rather than organizing.
The Service Employees International Union and the Brotherhood of Teamsters, citing the AFL-CIO’s penchant for political activism instead of organizing, both presented letters of disaffiliation Monday as 1,000 delegates gathered in Chicago for the labor federation’s 50th annual convention.
As much as the split was politically motivated, it was also personal.
The SEIU’s Andy Stern had a bone to pick with then-AFL-CIO president John Sweeney over Sweeney’s previous pick of Richard Cordtz to head the SEIU, prior to Stern; and Hoffa was still angry at the AFL-CIO’s #2 man, Richard Trumka, who had backed Hoffa’s 1996 opponent, Ron Carey.
However, personal and divisive that acrimonious break up was, a simple strategy was born out necessity, and shared vision: Though union bosses may have their differences, they would work together to beat Republicans. Although at odds with one another personally, the union bosses ensured their ground game was unified.
The next year, in 2006, a divided union movement made its shared mission felt in the mid-term elections. Republicans got trounced, Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House, and the Democrats’ “permanent campaign” became more pronounced.
Then came 2008.
In 2008, as much as there was an anti-Bush sentiment—driven largely by the Alinskyites within the union movement and their Left-wing allies’ constant campaign—union bosses had already laid the groundwork for the likelihood of a landslide.
Notwithstanding the fact that John McCain’s candidacy played well for the Left to suppress votes on the Right, the emergence of Barack Obama’s vague campaign of “hope” and “change,” and the union “corporate campaign” model of a death by a thousand cuts made Obama’s 2008 election a fait accompli.
What unions did fail to foresee, however, was the direct result of Obama’s overreach on the stimulus, the auto bailouts and health care—all of which gave rise to and fueled the Tea Party movement.
Suddenly, there was a counter movement and, although not as sophisticated as the unions and the Left were, by the mid-term elections, the Tea Party showed that it was a force to be reckoned with. By the time the mid-terms came, unions and the Left were too slow to react, which resulted in the GOP’s huge gains in the House.
Despite the wins in November 2010, soon after, infighting developed, dividing some of the tea parties while big egos kept the legacy groups from working together.
In January 2011, former SEIU operative and White House political director Patrick Gaspard left the White House to run Barack Obama’s ground game at the OFA. The coordination for Tuesday night’s defeat of Mitt Romney began nearly two years ago—before the Republican primaries had even started.
Meanwhile, the legacy groups continued competing against each other, the grassroots continued to do their own thing, and the Republican-led House turned into a disappointment. There was a shared vision, but little to no coordination on the ground.
As often as the topic of working together was raised (in 2010…and again in 2011), the feedback has always been, “our side doesn’t work well together like the Left does because we’re independent…” or, “this group will never work with that group because so and so hates what’s his name…” or, worse, “…we don’t want to give up our mailing donor list…”
In other words, egos on the Right (and protection of mailing donor lists[!]) have created a divided environment on the Right that has prohibited boots on the ground from marching in the same direction. This is what gave the unions the upper hand in handing the White House to Barack Obama for a second term.
Until the Right understands the leviathan it is up against and the Right’s legacy groups and the nascent Tea Party understand that, despite differences, they have to check their egos at the door, share information, and get all of their boots marching in the same direction, there will be more elections lost in the future.
Frankly, to some of my friends and colleagues, I hate to say it but I told you so…
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)