Is the Next Political Battleground the Workplace?
In a June conference call with the National Federation of Independent Business, Mitt Romney advised business owners to talk to their employees about the election and what the stakes are for the business.
Romney: “I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.”
At the time, this video did not make many headlines, however, it has recently been getting more attention due to the fact that several CEOs have been doing exactly this. In These Times, Gawker, and MSNBC have all reported about businesses that sent their employees memos about the election. These memos usually amount to slightly veiled threats of layoffs if Obama is re-elected. This type of campaigning is now being encouraged and the National Federation of Independent Business now offers advice on how to do so: 5 ways to talk to your employees about politics.
According to the Yale Law Journal, it used to be prohibited for employers to use their workplace as a forum for campaigning to their employees. Now, because of Citizens United, there are no such restrictions.
“Under Citizens United’s robust conception of corporate political speech, employers may now be able to compel their employees to listen to their political views at such meetings on pain of termination.”
Prior to Citizens United corporations could not directly campaign to, or solicit money from rank and file employees. Such behavior could only have been conducted through a PAC, and only through the mail. Additionally, any solicitations for money had be done in a way that allowed employees to remain anonymous, so management would not know who did or did not contribute.
Again, according to the Yale Law Journal, Citizens United permits “corporations to freely use their treasury funds to advocate for candidates and political parties to their rank-and-file employees.” This advocacy could include: requiring employees to attend one-sided partisan speeches, rallies, watch videos, or attend other events that advocate in favor of a candidate or party. Employees who do not comply could be fired.
How long will it be before contracts and terms of employment include an obligation for employees to actively campaign for the interests of the company? Are we headed down a path where employees could be required to volunteer for or donate money to the candidate or party of their bosses choosing? Is this the type of society we want? Do we want to give employers and corporate executives yet another tool that they can use to influence our political system?
It seems, to me, that as a society we are headed down a slippery path. One that gives employers more and more control over the lives of their employees (and this is to say nothing about the demand that bosses have more control over their employees’ health care). Our entire society is becoming more and more undemocratic both economically and politically. Wealth and power have been increasingly concentrated into the hands of the few. Now, it appears that some want to use the workplace as another tool to control politics, society, and the lives of people.
Obama Would Win a Worldwide Election by a Landslide
Several organizations have done world wide surveys and polls regarding the US election. The consensus is that Obama would win easily. The GlobalPost conducted a series of interviews with people from around the world and estimated that Obama would win 65% to 18%. While, a Gallup International poll has Obama winning 81% to 19%.
According to the Gallup poll, 63% said that the outcome of the US election would have a “high or very high” impact on life in their country. The Gallup poll provides a lot of additional information and data, however the most interesting tidbit is that “when asked if they thought, given the impact of U.S. president’s decision on life in their country, would they seek voting rights in the U.S. presidential election, 42% said yes, with the number among men and women under the age of 30 rising to 46%. Only 23% over the age of 65 want to vote.”
Mitt Romney Changes Mind About Top Tax Rate?
Tonight in the debate Romney said this: “I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers.”
Yet back on January 16th, referring to the top tax rate, he said this: “Let’s get it down as low as we possibly can, if it’s 20, if it’s 25 but paying than 25 percent, I think, is taking too much out of our pocket.”
(The current rate for the highest tax bracket is 35%.)
I suppose the appeal of Romney is that you can never be certain where he stands, so you can always imagine that he believes what ever it is that you’d like him to stand for.
More Nonsense from Romney’s RNC Speech
“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.” - Mitt Romney
If you really wanted America to succeed you would quit outsourcing jobs. If you really wanted America to succeed you and your ilk would quit demanding more and more tax cuts while you control larger and larger portions of our nation’s wealth. You would quit opposing common sense regulations designed to prevent people on Wall Street from taking imprudent risks that could hurt the economy. You would stop attacking people when they band together, in unions, to try and get their fair share of the profits from the goods and services they create.
If you wanted America to succeed you and the rest of the 1% would give more back to society. You would run your businesses not only to enrich yourself and your investors, but to enrich your employees as well.
In short if you wanted America to succeed you would do the opposite of everything that you do now.
Excerpts from Mitt Romney’s RNC Speech
“Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.” - Mitt Romney
The way I remember it is that people did not come together after Obama’s election. From day one the Republicans have dedicated themselves to ruining and delegitimizing Obama’s presidency.
Romney’s inability to accurately assess our political climate is startling. Either he has decided to simply make stuff up, or perhaps, he has had some psychological break with reality.
The Election (so far) As I See It
The election has, so far, been relatively tame. However, here is a brief breakdown of events as I see them:
- Romney is campaigning on the fact that the economy is not well and that he can fix it. However, a few key swing states are showing signs of improvement. This could help Obama win those important states even if the economy overall is not improving.
- States with popular/ successful governors tend to lean toward the party of the incumbent governor. Most of swing states mentioned in the last point have Republican governors.
- Obama has issued an executive order that would stop the deportation of some illegals. Republicans reflexively oppose anything the Democrats do, however Romney cannot oppose this too forcefully or he could alienate the Hispanic vote.
- The Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s immigration law. Again, Romney cannot condemn this ruling too harshly or he could alienate Hispanic voters.
- The Supreme court upheld almost all of Obama Care. The Democrats can switch from defending its constitutionality to explaining what the new law does and why it is good.
- The economy is in rough shape nationally. Unemployment is still high and shows no sign of declining.
- There are no major foreign policy crises. Troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reduced and will continue to be reduced.
- Due to Citizens United, corporations and billionaires have been pouring money into the campaigns and super PACs. Most of this money have been donated to Romney.
- Fires have been raging in Colorado and have caused untold amounts of damage and have ruined lives. Hurricane Katrina and President Bush’s handling of it had a huge and largely negative impact on his job rating. Could the fires in Colorado be President Obama’s ‘Hurricane Katrina?’
Most of the points above bode well for Obama. But, of the points mentioned above, the one about the economy is by far the most import. I think that this will be a close election because of it. Any bad economic news between now and November could tip the election to Romney. All in all, I think that Obama is comparatively well positioned on the issues. The President has boxed Romney in on immigration and foreign policy- which is considered a Republican strong suit- may not be a major factor in this election. In fact I think that President Obama is in the better position and, barring some major event, he will most likely win.
There are undoubtedly things that I have over looked, and this is not an in depth analysis, but I think it captures the big picture fairly well. Comments welcome.