Trade Unions vs. Tea Party: The Emerging Brawl in American Politics

The division between the Tea Party and “regular Republicans” is well publicised, but not so well understood is that between public trade unions and the “gentry” (I prefer limousine) liberals:

My subject today is the civil war raging in one of our great political parties, as highlighted in recent primary elections.

No, I’m not talking about the split between the tea partiers and the Republican establishment (is there a Republican establishment any more?). I’m talking about the split between two of the core groups of the Democratic Party, as witnessed in the Sept. 14 primaries in heavily Democratic New York (63 percent for Barack Obama in 2008), Maryland (62 percent Obama) and the District of Columbia (92 percent Obama).

In each there was a split between the public employee unions that do so much to finance Democratic campaigns and the gentry liberals who provide Democratic votes in places like Manhattan, the Montgomery County suburbs of Maryland and Northwest Washington, D.C. And in each case, the public employee unions won.

Given that the public trade unions and the tea partiers have diametrically opposing economic interests, and that both are in the ascendant, that’s a set-up for an ugly brawl that will be fought in ideological terms but will be in reality an economic struggle between two groups played out on the political stage.

The only saving grace is that the two aren’t necessarily strong in the same places.  But when the conflict is nationalised (think 2012 Presidential race) it will be especially gory.

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