March 26, 2020

We are all living with the stress of the coronavirus epidemic.  The extraordinary incompetence, negligence and arrogance of President Trump and his administration have made the pain of this pandemic much worse than it is needs to be.  Untold numbers of our family and community members will lose their lives and be sickened because of Trump’s failures. We need the truth of these failures and to spread this information widely.

I have written this concise timeline to help you communicate more effectively about the Trump administration’s extreme mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.  Effective communication about this mismanagement is essential in separating the truth from the lies. I have provided footnotes so you can check my sources and for your own information.


Since the start of his administration, Trump and his team systematically ignored the advice of multiple experts about the threats of a pandemic. These experts include his Director of National Intelligence, a leading Republican Congressman, many public health experts and health care industry leaders.  At the same time, Trump and his team were dismantling key parts of our national early warning system and analytic and organizational capacity to respond quickly to a pandemic.

Here is the proof.  

On May 11, 2017, Dan Coats, Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, told the U.S. Senate: 

“A novel or reemerging microbe that is easily transmissible between humans and is highly pathogenic remains a major threat because such an organism has the potential to spread rapidly and kill millions.

In May 2017, Republican Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma told Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, at a House budget hearing:

Sometime in the president’s term, you will have a pandemic…You will have a Zika, you will have an Ebola.”

In May 2018, the Trump administration abolished the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health and Security and Bio-Defense.  This Obama-era office was created to address the Ebola pandemic and other pandemics.  Beth Cameron, its first director said “the directorate was set up to be the “smoke alarm…all with the goal of avoiding a six-alarm fire.”

On January 29, 2019, Mr. Coats issued another public warning: 

We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or largescale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability.”

In July 2019, the Trump administration eliminated a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) medical epidemiologist position based in Beijing.  This expert was working with China’s national disease control agency to identify any pandemics in China that might affect the United States.  In March 2020, the CDC said that the termination “had absolutely nothing to do with CDC not learning of cases in China earlier.”

In November 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security issued its final report.  Its co-chairs were Kelly Ayotte, former Republican U.S. Senator from Vermont and Julie Gerberding, Executive VP of Merck, a large pharmaceutical company.  The Commission recommended the following:

The U.S. government should re-establish a directorate for global health security and biodefense on the National Security Council (NSC)… and name a senior-level leader in charge of coordinating U.S. efforts to anticipate, prevent, and respond to biological crises. These actions will ensure that the necessary leadership, authority, and accountability is in place to protect the United States from a deadly and costly health security emergency.

For three years, the Trump administration had been repeatedly warned about the threat of a pandemic and to ensure our capacity to respond quickly and effectively.  Instead of responding favorably, Trump and his allies continued to weaken our national capacity and failed to act decisively and wisely when the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

By January 2020, our nation was woefully unprepared for the pandemic.  This was not an accident. It was a failure of leadership.


South Korea and the United States both reported their first coronavirus case in the same week in late January. The contrast in the responses are damning proof of Trump’s incompetence and negligence. 

The South Korean response. 

Their government took swift action and convened an emergency meeting with governmental leaders and medical companies even though only 4 cases had been reported.  A leading infectious disease expert said:

“We were very nervous. We believed that it could develop into a pandemic.  We acted like an army.”  

The United States response.

On January 22, 2020, President Trump was asked: “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?”  His response: “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control.”

January 30th: “We have it well under control.”

February 19th: “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.”

February 26th: “We’re going down, not up.  We’re going down very substantially down, not up.”

February 29th: Vaccine “very quickly” and his actions are “the most aggressive taken by any country.”

March 7th: “I’m not concerned at all.”

March 10th: “It will go away.  Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services: “There is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been.” Trump, while touring the C.D.C. on March 6, said, “Anybody that wants a test can get a test.”

The Results

Within 7 weeks, South Korea had conducted 290,000 tests and identified 8,000 infections.  By mid-March, their reported infection rate was dropping rapidly from a daily peak of 900+ per day to less than 100 per day.  Swift, organized and systematic planning and action were winning the day.

During the same time period, our country had tested only 60,000 people as the infection and death rates were climbing steadily.  Stories surfaced many places about the lack of available tests, inadequate personal protective gear for health care workers and growing crises in health facilities.

Trump’s inept leadership is highlighted by the Center for Disease Control’s current guidelines about personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by health care staff:

In settings where facemasks are not available, health care providers (HCP) might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised.”

On March 23rd, Washington State’s epidemiologist reported: “We have health care workers wearing bandannas at this point.”

Our nation owes it to all of our dedicated health care workers and all patients that they have the protective equipment and medical equipment they need.


We spend more on health care per person than any country.  We are the richest country in the world. We have 6 times the population of South Korea.  Our annual Gross Domestic Product is 13 times larger than South Korea.  South Korea has been testing their population at 19 times the rate of our country.

Why has South Korea been so successful in their response to the pandemic?  Why has our response been so tragically inept?

The answer is leadership.  South Korea’s government was prepared in advance, listened to the experts and mobilized accordingly.  Trump and his team systematically ignored the advice of experts for years, refused to recognize the truth of the pandemic, and failed to act as a competent leader conveying clear consistent messages.

This is not a failure due to a lack of resources.  It is not due to a lack of skilled hard working medical workers.  It is a colossal failure of leadership.  How many people will die or be sickened in our country due to this failure of leadership?  This is a key question for the 2020 election.

In March, Trump said this about the pandemic:  

“This is something that you can never really think is going to happen.”

That answer is profoundly unacceptable.  A capable responsible leader hopes for the best and plans for the worst.  He/she listens to experts who know more than they do. The plans should be based on the best science available, communicated clearly and honestly, and implemented quickly and effectively.  

In closing, I have deep compassion and empathy for those who suffer and die whether they are patients or workers on the front lines.   I take my hat off to the health care workers, grocery workers, first responders and so many others who are working hard in these most trying times.  My heart aches for the millions who are suffering needlessly due to this incompetence and negligence. We can do better as a nation.

My next article on the pandemic will discuss a longer historical perspective of how we got in this needless mess.

I can be contacted in the following ways:

References, in order

Coats, Dan, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Nay 11, 2017, page 18,

Baumgartner, Emily, Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts Trouble Bioterrorism Experts,” New York Times, May 28, 2017.

Sun, Lena, “Top White House official in charge of pandemic response exits abruptly,” Washington Post, May 10, 2018.

Reichmann, Deb, “Trump disbanded NSC pandemic unit that experts had praised,” ABC, March 14, 2020,

Coats, Dan, “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, January 29, 2019,—SSCI.pdf

Taylor, Marisa, “Exclusive:  U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak,” Reuters, March 22, 2020.

Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Ending the Cycle of Crisis and Complacency in U.S. Global Health Security: A Report of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security,” November 2019,

Terhune, Chad et al, “Special Report: How Korea trounced U.S. in race to test people for coronavirus,” Reuters, March 18, 2020.

Leonhardt, David, “A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 15, 2020.

CDC, “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks,” website accessed March 23, 2020.

Bernton, Hal, and Kamb, Lewis, “’Our warehouse is empty’: Washington state epidemiologist describes severe shortage of medical supplies, Seattle Times, March 20, 2020.

Investopedia, “The Top 20 Economies in the World,” accessed March 23, 2020. [1] Reichmann, Deb, ABC, March 14, 2020.

Diversity, inclusiveness & hope in Chicago

CHICAGO (Feb. 14, 2020) — During this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, I was honored to speak at the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) 30th Annual National Leadership Conference in Chicago for the third consecutive year. I was deeply inspired by the love, energy and determination of the 550-plus very diverse delegates and speakers.

I want to share some inspiring stories from the conference.

In 1966, Dr. King came to Chicago to lead a movement for racial justice and desegregation. He led a march into an all-white neighborhood demanding that homes be sold to everyone regardless of their race.  He was confronted by an angry racist mob and was hit in the head with a thrown brick.

“I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the South,” he later said. “But I can say that I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’m seeing in Chicago.”

Five years later, Dr. King said: “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress… The captains of industry did not lead this transformation. In fact, they resisted until they were overcome.”

But Dr. King was also critical of our movement’s internal discrimination. Speaking at the AFL-CIO’s Constitutional Convention in 1963, he said:

“Labor has not adequately used its great power, its vision and resources to advance Negro rights. Undeniably, it has done more than other forces in American society to this end. Discrimination does exist in the labor movement. It is true that organized labor has taken significant steps to remove the yoke of discrimination from its own body… Labor must honestly admit these shameful conditions, and design the battle plan which will defeat and eliminate them.”

Why was the EWMC founded?

The creation of the Electrical Worker Minority Caucus must be understood in this historical context.

“The EWMC was officially founded in 1974, by a small group of primarily African American International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) brothers and sisters who were delegates to the 30th International Convention. Hispanic and African American IBEW members were threatening the formation of an informational picket line,” the EWMC website reads. “The primary purpose of the EWMC is to advocate for greater diversity and inclusiveness within the IBEW, with extreme emphasis on increasing the numbers of people of color and women in leadership positions at all levels of the IBEW.”

The IBEW International President and Treasurer agreed to meet with an EWMC delegation at that convention to discuss ways to address their concerns. The EWMC notes that “these high level meetings have been scheduled on a continuous basis since 1974.”

Since that time, the EWMC has grown to 38 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. Their annual national conferences have grown dramatically in recent years with increased enthusiasm to building a stronger and more inclusive IBEW and labor movement.

Finding hope in the IBEW International and its leadership.

One of the keynote speakers at this year’s EWMC national conference was IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson. He gave a deeply heartfelt speech reaffirming his commitment to continue working with the EMWC to address issues of diversity and inclusion within the IBEW, grow the IBEW, and fight to defend our nation’s democracy and our right to vote. His remarks were well-received.

As I listened I thought about Dr. King’s criticisms of the past. I felt that Dr. King would see President Stephenson’s ongoing commitment as sincere and meaningful progress.

Finding hope in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Victor Uno gave a deeply moving speech. Victor is Japanese-American. In the mid-1970’s, at age 23, he became an IBEW member, one of the first minorities allowed into Local 595, a construction local in Oakland. When he went to his first union meeting, the door foreman tore up his dues receipt, refusing him entry into the meeting.

“Are we letting Chinese in now?” was a remark he heard when he finally gained entry into the meeting.

Undeterred, and after 25 years of dedicated work serving the union and the Asian Pacific Islander community, Victor was elected Business Manager of Local 595 and won four re-elections. Twelve years later, he was appointed to an International Representative.

“One of my greatest honors was to serve as President of our EWMC,” he told the conference. “Here we see a wonderful diversity. This conference has always inspired and given me great hope for the work that we do to lift up all into our IBEW.”

Brother Uno’s rise to leadership is a profile in courage and determination. His success also reflects changes in the attitudes and actions of the leadership, staff and membership of the IBEW.  Recently he wrote to me: “We need a labor movement with social justice at its core.”

Finding hope in Chicago.

IBEW Local 134 in Chicago was the host local for this year’s conference. Business Manager Donald Finn welcomed the delegates and invited them to an open house at their hall nearby. Brother Finn’s remarks were short but powerful. He said that the history of Local 134 was one of exclusion. He acknowledged that this approach was wrong. He stated clearly that they are working to make the union one of inclusion.

Brother Finn (pictured at right with a student at a new construction trades program) showed honesty, integrity and courage. I interviewed him about Local 134’s ongoing agreement with four Chicago high schools in poor black and Latinx communities. Union members teach an electrical shop class in each school. Course completers are guaranteed a trainee job and union membership. While working, trainees become more competitive for the apprenticeship program. Local 134 also conducts ongoing math classes to help the students/trainees improve critically needed math skills.

In each of the past two years, 16 students from Dunbar High School have joined Local 134 after completing this program. President Stephenson noted in his remarks that Bobby Rush, the African-American U.S. Representative for this part of Chicago, has recognized this important collaboration between Local 134 and Dunbar on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dr. King once said: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I humbly add: “But only if we, the people, bend it.”

The IBEW, President Stephenson, the EWMC, Victor Uno, Local 134, Business Manager Donald Finn and many more in the IBEW and the EWMC are bending that moral arc day by day. It isn’t easy, but it is righteous work.


January 4, 2020

I want to share hope and inspiration with you in these dark times.  I see no need to obsess on describing the endless injustices of our time.  My approach to injustice is that you and I cannot and must not yield to despair.  Despair is demoralizing and a luxury that we cannot afford. For me, action is the antidote to despair, hopelessness and depression.  As Dolores Huerta said so eloquently: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minutes a chance to change the world.”  To do so, we must inspire hope and courage. This year, we can and must crush Trump and his allies and put a pro-worker, pro-justice government in place.

I want to share two thrilling upbeat stories of recent great people’s victories in Arizona.  The young heroes and heroines of these stories inspire me and give me great hope. Their stories prove we can overcome great challenges and move our country toward greater justice and a better future.  I often say: “We are the people we have been waiting for. We need to act like it.”

Over the past 10 years, my wife, Diane, and I have developed a great affection and respect for the people and state of Arizona as we have visited there many times.  Our visits always include taking action in support of the people’s struggles for justice there.

If these stories inspired and moved you, please pass them on.


As some of you may know, I have spent the past 8 years traveling the country doing 430 economic justice and labor history speeches and trainings.  I am blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to do this work. In doing so, I have met wonderful courageous activists who prove that we can win big in hard times.

On February 14, 2015, I did a training at the Electricians Union hall in Tucson for the Pima Country Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.  Some of the participants were fired up, hard charging young Latinx activists who had driven 100+ miles from Phoenix. They were leaders and members of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA).  One of the attendees was Tomas Robles, co-Executive Director of LUCHA and its sister organization, Arizona Center for Empowerment (ACE). 

The work of LUCHA and ACE is extraordinarily inspiring.  Arizona is ground zero for the war against immigrants, voter suppression, longstanding repression of Latinx citizens and residents and worker abuses.  LUCHA and ACE were created in response to these rising injustices.

Here is a quick synopsis of tremendous work and victories of these organizations and their many allies.  

In 2010, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), one of the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation.  It was called the “Show Me Your Papers” law. Activists waged a 103-day vigil and conducted many mass mobilizations trying to defeat it.  They failed.

The next year, LUCHA, ACE and other progressive organizations led a successful recall election of the prime sponsor of SB 1070, State Senate President Russell Pearce.  This was the first time in the 99-year history of Arizona that a state lawmaker had been recalled.

In 2012, this growing movement attempted to defeat the infamous Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  He was notorious for his racism, anti-immigrant hostility and brutal conditions in his jail system. He publicly bragged that his “Tent City” was a concentration camp.  Arpaio denied his statement despite an online video of his comment. Arpaio was re-elected and later said, “But even if it was a concentration camp, what difference does it make?  I still survived. I still kept getting re-elected.” Arpaio ruled with an iron hand until 2016.

In the next four years, LUCHA, ACE and other allied organizations registered tens of thousands of new voters, built an extensive voter education and get out the voter organization, and went on the attack.  Between 2014 and 2018, Latino voter turnout leaped from 32% to 49%.

In 2016, Trump narrowly won Arizona by 3 percentage points.  At the same time, the growing progressive movement won a successful statewide initiative with 58% of the votes.  Their victory raised the state minimum wage to $12 per hour and won paid sick leave for millions of workers. They defeated Joe Arpaio with 56% of the vote.  They also defeated the county recorder who was accused of championing voter suppression.

In 2018, they played a key role in defeating the right-wing, racist, anti-immigrant, Republican U.S. Senator Martha McSally.  The victor, Kristen Synema, is the first Democratic U.S. Senator from Arizona since 1988. Many progressives are critical of Synema but her victory is still very important.

LUCHA, ACE and many other progressive organizations in Arizona are gearing up for the 2020 elections.  They can help deliver Arizona for the Democratic presidential candidate and defeat Martha McSally again.  She has been appointed U.S. Senator after John McCain died and his replacement, Jeff Flake, resigned. 

Here is a great New York Times article that documents these victories. I hope you take the time to read it and are inspired like me. And if you are looking for organizations to support for the 2020 elections and build permanent progressive political power in a key swing state, give some money to LUCHA and ACE.

If you are looking for organizations to support for the 2020 elections and build permanent progressive political power in a key swing state, give some money to LUCHA and ACE.


The growing border wall and our nation’s increasingly harsh treatment of immigrants and political asylum seekers has created a horrific and deadly humanitarian crisis in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.  The extremely harsh Sonoran Desert straddles the Arizona-Mexico border. It is a nightmare of death and repression. In the past 20 years, more than 3,000 dead migrants have been found in the desert in the jurisdiction of the Pima County (Tucson) Office of Medical Examiner. To date, 2/3 have not been identified.  Who knows how many more have died but have not been found?

This crisis has sparked the creation of many grassroots organizations in southern Arizona that are actively combatting these horrific injustices including:

The Samaritans and No More Deaths are direct action groups that leave food and water in the desert near the border as acts of humanitarian compassion.  The food and water can prevent needless and unjust deaths in temperatures up to 120 degrees.  

Arizona’s growing movement for immigrant justice is under relentless attack from Trump’s Justice Department.  “In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had ordered federal prosecutors to step up their enforcement of the harboring statute, telling them to pursue ‘any case involving the unlawful transportation or harboring of aliens.’”

The Department has turned its attention to imprisoning humanitarian volunteers for felonies for allegedly aiding illegal immigration and misdemeanors for littering in the desert.

Scott Warren is an Arizona State University professor and a member of No More Deaths. He is one of the targets of the Trump repression and intimidation campaign.  “Warren and eight other No More Deaths volunteers were hit with federal misdemeanor littering charges in 2017 for leaving food, water, and other humanitarian aid supplies on a federal wildlife reserve outside Ajo, where migrants routinely die. The first trial in those cases, held in January, resulted in four No More Deaths volunteers convicted and sentenced to 15 months of probation and ordered to pay $250 in fines. A second group of volunteers facing misdemeanor charges accepted similar consequences days later, and the charges against them were formally dismissed.”

The repression and intimidation is growing.  In June 2019, Scott Warren, was put on trial for 3 felony counts related to his humanitarian work with No More Deaths.  He faced up to 20 years in prison. The jury was unable to reach a verdict with 8 of the 12 juries voting for acquittal; 4 for conviction.

In November 2019, Scott was tried again on 2 felony charges.  Diane and I were in Tucson during the trial. Community organizing resulted in 100’s of had yard signs declaring: “Humanitarian Aid is Not a Crime.”  We joined the picket lines and solidarity actions in front of the Federal Courthouse and at Southside Presbyterian Church, a leading sanctuary church for migrants.  

The day the trial went to the jury, leaders and members of many faith traditions and leaders and activists from many secular organizations held a rally in support of Scott.  During the rally, a number of faith leaders stepped forward and blessed the gallons of water that they would be distributing in the desert that day. They announced their names publicly thereby making it easier for the Trump administration to arrest them on criminal charges. It was extremely moving and courageous.  This is courage in action.

After the rally, the faith leaders silently filled the courtroom urging justice for Scott and all those courageous people who engage in humanitarian acts to stop the deaths.


Later that day, the jury spent only two hours acquitting Scott Warren on both charges.  These trials are our tax dollars at work.

That same day, the Trump administration called for more prosecutions.  Michael Bailey, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, vowed to continue prosecuting people who harbor and smuggle migrants.

“We won’t distinguish between whether somebody is trafficking or harboring for money, or whether they’re doing it out of, you know, what I would say a misguided sense of social justice or belief in open borders or whatever,” Bailey told the AP.

Gregory Kuykendall, Scott’s lawyer eloquently stated after the trial:

This is a place where a humanitarian crisis of epidemic proportions is occurring,” Kuykendall told The Post. “People who exercise the golden rule, people who are Samaritans, are not committing crimes. They are doing what all of us should aspire to.”

The struggle for justice continues in Arizona.  The same day in the same courthouse, former Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen was sentenced to three years’ probation and supervised release.  In a plea deal, Bowen admitted he had intentionally run over a Guatemalan migrant with his truck – and then lied about it.


In closing, I wish all of you a Happy New Year.  These are my New Year’s resolutions.

  • May we work hard to bring hope to the tens of millions of our fellow citizens and residents who want a more just and equitable today and future.  
  • May we make deep commitments to work hard and give generously to defeat Trump and rout the Republicans in Congress and across the country.  
  • May we fight hard to protect and expand our hard-won right to vote.  
  • May we fight hard to strengthen our democracy and build a better future.  
  • May we reaffirm that all people regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin, religion or lack thereof, gender, sexual orientation and union affiliation should and must be treated fairly and equitably in our nation.
  • May we reaffirm a national commitment to search for the truth and inspire others to do so as well.

I would love your feedback on this article.  Please pass it on. I can be reached at:


The theft of the next election is already under way

This article was originally published in The Stand.

(April 12, 2017) — If you care about our democracy, our nation, fair elections, the right of the people to fairly choose our elected officials, and our future, you should be paying close attention to the systematic efforts of the Trump regime, Corporate America and their Republican allies to steal the 2018 and 2020 elections. Regardless of the issues you care about, you should care about fair elections. Stolen national elections in 2018 and 2020 will have a devastating effect on you, those you love and the issues you care about. This renewed effort is a continuation of a decades-long strategy.

The attempted grand theft of these elections started on Nov. 27, 2016, when Trump began his “big lie” propaganda campaign about a stolen election by stating: “In addition to winning the Electoral College by a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Trump has steadfastly refused to demonstrate the truth of his “Big Lie.” In response to growing challenges to his lying, Trump said: “You know what is important. Millions of people agree with me when I say that.”

Yes, they were ignorantly believing his “Big Lie.”

On Jan. 27, 2017, with no proof on any serious voter fraud, Vice President Pence laid out their strategy to steal the election in 2020: We need “a full evaluation of the voting rolls in the country and to protect the overall integrity of the voting system.”

With overwhelming evidence that major voter fraud is not taking place, what is their deeper motive? To restrict voting rights of millions of Americans and legally steal our elections by diluting the voting power of those opposed to their radical policy agenda.

This is not a new idea. Our nation’s history of voter suppression and stealing elections is long and ugly. Consider Mississippi. In the late 1880s, a bi-racial coalition of Republicans and Populists won the governor’s race and the state house. This coalition was made up of many poor black and white farmers and workers who deeply resented the economic and political domination of the wealthy planter class…

Read the full article at The Stand.

The Democratic Party is losing the working class

This article was published in The Stand January 2017.

(Jan. 10, 2017) — In 2008, Barack Obama was elected along with large Democratic majorities in Congress. Eight years later we have Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress. The Democrats have lost 935 state legislative seats since 2008, and 26 states are under complete control of the Republicans. It is hard putting a happy face on this disaster for Democrats.

Understanding this multi-year catastrophe is critical to our movement’s organizing an effective long-term strategy anchored in a positive vision to reclaim our country and build a more just, equitable and sustainable future. We must be self-critical and not merely blame the Kochs, Trump and the Republicans. There are many factors for this disaster and I want to focus on three critical factors centered on the

Democratic Party:

  1. The enormous loss of support for Democrats among households making less than $50,000 per year;
  2. Major loss of support among union members particularly in the Rust Belt; and
  3. The long-term support of both Clintons and Obama for “free trade” and largely ignoring its impacts and the long-term crisis of deindustrialization in the Rust Belt.

Over the past four years, I have presented my economic justice and labor education work 16 times in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and upstate New York, as well as campaigning in western Pennsylvania for 16 days before the election. (See “Doorbelling at the scene of corporate crimes” — The Stand, Nov. 4, 2016.)

I have visited many cities, large, medium and small, that have been devastated by plant closures, massive permanent job losses and jobs moving to foreign countries. The intergenerational character of many tight-knit communities has been severely weakened as their younger people leave and permanent hard times remain in many of these hard-hit communities.

The white working class was hit hard, but the black working class was hit even harder. If you doubt this, visit the many devastated black neighborhoods in Detroit, Flint, Cleveland, Toledo, and Pittsburgh. There is a deep anger about this long-term decline and it erupted last month.

On Nov. 8, the American people were stunned by the election results. Questions of what happened abound. A Reuters exit poll offers important insights into voters’ attitudes:

  • 75% agree “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
  • 72% agree: “The American economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful.”
  • 68% agree: “Traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”

Read the full article at The Stand.

Two Profiles in Courage

This article was originally published for The Retiree Advocate at in July 2016.

Forty-four years ago I was a poor recent college graduate and antiwar activist. I moved from Chicago to Seattle to work on my brother Jim’s campaign for governor. He was opposed to the Vietnam War, and he was fighting for universal health care, mass transit, and a more just world. He ran hard but lost. For the next 44 years, Jim and I continued to fight for economic, racial and social justice, peace, and much more. Brother Jim chose the path of serving in elected office; my path was as a lifelong labor and community activist and appointed official for three governors and four Seattle mayors. Continue reading “Two Profiles in Courage”

Making Retirement Security Real for Everyone

This article was originally published for The Retiree Advocate at in October 2015.

PSARA will premiere our new workshop “Making Retirement Security Real for Everyone” on Friday, October 30, from 10 a.m. to noon at Washington State Labor Council, 321 16th Ave. S., Seattle. Led by PSARA Education Committee Chair, Mark McDermott, the workshop will educate and inspire participants to fight for a more secure retirement for all people and generations. Continue reading “Making Retirement Security Real for Everyone”