SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 20, 2016 — This series of articles dealing with the foundation and evolution of the “Democratic” Party, is by no means an attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the Party, as that would be a far too exhaustive task to complete in the Communities Digital News. It is a worthy task that should be undertaken in a more scholarly and diligent manner by those who are more qualified to chronicle the truth. Nevertheless, this series of articles is intended to provide a more clear framework in which to view the development of the “Democratic” Party over time with respect to the willingness of leadership to use fear, force, or outright terror to attain, maintain, and retain political power and control of the government.
While Democrat leaders and party members today are less likely to be embarrassed by more traditional pursuits of garnering public support and winning votes, they may also prefer to not acknowledge such a history of willingness to rely on fear, force, or terror to wield political power.
It is natural to assume that Democrats prefer to have their party’s history written in more palatable and sanitized versions, which has usually been the case. A more significant “connecting the dots” of true cause and effect has not been easily undertaken, and the illusion persists that contemporary Democrats have evolved significantly from the beginning 50 years of their inception as a major political party.
It is undeniable that the foundations of the “Democratic” Party demonstrate a tendency toward the tolerance or actual acceptance of force or organized terror against specific targets or serious political opponents, and as the Party grew it was forced to adapt to an ever-changing America as some strong-minded citizens actually believed in the ideals espoused by the Founding Fathers. A more acceptable development of the “Democratic” Party occurred in the late 1800s, more in the North than in the former stronghold of the South. Connections were forged between the Big Labor unions and the Democrats despite the history of violence-riddled strikes of that time.
Labor unions readily connected with the “Democratic” Party due to a perception that the Party was always supportive of/defenders of the rights of the “working man.” Nevertheless, under Democratic President Grover Cleveland, a labor strike which erupted into extreme violence and ultimately bloodshed, led to a serious confrontation between the American Railway Union and the federal government, and it almost derailed a budding relationship between the Party and their most favored voters.
The use of strikes, and more specifically the use of violence, in some serious confrontations between labor and ownership, demonstrated that labor unions were a formidable force to be taken seriously — emphasis on “force.” The notorious Haymarket Square Riot and the infamous Homestead Strike in the latter part of the 1800s basically reflect a turning point in U.S. history in which Big Labor came of age, and it became necessary for the federal government to acknowledge the raw force evident in the labor movement.
Possibly the most critical confrontation of this time occurred in 1894, with the polarizing Pullman Strike, which pitted the powerful American Railway Union against the Pullman Palace Car Company and Big Business of railroad companies, as well as the federal government.
The Pullman Strike was one of the most dramatic repercussions of the fallout from a severely weakened economy during an economic depression that had consumed several previously healthy businesses through the winter of 1894-94. Before the strike was officially squelched by President Grover Cleveland’s deployment of 12,000 U.S. Army troops to end violent clashes between striking mobs and local authorities, approximately 30 people, including 13 strikers, had been killed, 57 people had been injured or wounded, and about $340,000 (equivalent to roughly $80 million today) worth of property damage had been perpetrated. Later the strike became commonly referred to as “Deb’s Rebellion, named after Eugene V. Debs the A.R.U. president.
The Pullman Strike was a turning point in U.S. history; definitely a turning point in U.S. labor law, and in the relations between the government and unions. The strike radicalized Eugene Debs even more, and after he was arrested for inciting the riots, he served six months in prison. During his incarceration, he studied the writings of Karl Marx. He eventually came to believe that American workers would not get what they deserved until through elections they could eventually gain control of governmental power themselves and then they could begin the process of replacing capitalism with socialism. This actually happened in the 21st century.
While President Cleveland had taken a righteous stand against the terror and violence utilized by the American Railway Union in the Pullman Strike, the rest of the “Democratic” Party became fearful of losing the political support of their strongest and most consistent voting block due to Cleveland’s “political blunder.” So, despite the destruction of private property, serious physical violence, and numerous deaths, politicians in both parties still generally sought to offer concessions to the unions to win their votes.
Additionally, mandatory collection of union dues ensured that the union leaders could continue flexing their collective muscle as there was one political party willing to ignore the violence.
More specifically, it is clear that as the labor movement took shape and developed into one of the largest voting blocks in America, elected officials within the “Democratic” Party would not sacrifice votes simply because of violent union outbursts, even if American citizens were killed. Such history reveals an ongoing and interdependent relationship between the Party and Big Labor, and rather than demand a higher standard of non-violence in politics, the marriage has endured into the 21st century.
A good example of the contemporary force of unions can be found in recent rioting and violence in the state of Wisconsin that Gov. Scott Walker had to contend with when public employee unions demanded higher wages or more pension money than was sustainable, based upon tax dollars as the basis of the state’s economy.
Many people have forgotten that the government is us, and demanding taxpayers pay higher wages simply shows public employee unions are not operating in the best interests of the public good. Unions like this should be openly challenged taxpayers as to whether demands of this nature are designed to extract as much as possible from a golden goose, even at the expense of killing the goose?
Are public employee unions attempting to extract all they can from a golden goose, even at the expense of killing the goose? Working for their one’s own best interest is highly self-centered and can be destructive of the common welfare.
Such a history reveals that many unions and the Democrats have much in common: a focus on self-preservation, self-promotion, and personal or political success at the expense of the general public; but especially, when violence is used to obtain such selfish aims it becomes criminal and not reflective of the virtues of a civil society.