... to bring you at least one, thougtful dissenting view. Tuesday's WashPo has this bracing story about SEIU labor leader Andy Stern's wonderfully contrarian hiccups over the Kerry Democrats. Here are the money graphs:
BOSTON, July 26 -- Breaking sharply with the enforced harmony of the Democratic National Convention, the president of the largest AFL-CIO union said Monday that both organized labor and the Democratic Party might be better off in the long run if Sen. John F. Kerry loses the election.
Andrew L. Stern, the head of the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said in an interview with The Washington Post that both the party and its longtime ally, the labor movement, are "in deep crisis," devoid of new ideas and working with archaic structures.
Stern argued that Kerry's election might stifle needed reform within the party and the labor movement. He said he still believes that Kerry overall would make a better president than President Bush, and his union has poured huge resources into that effort. But he contends that Kerry's election would have the effect of slowing the "evolution" of the dialogue within the party.
Asked whether if Kerry became president it would help or hurt those internal party deliberations, Stern said, "I think it hurts."
Stern's dissatisfaction with the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party is not new, but his decision to voice his frustration on the opening day of a carefully scripted convention was an unwelcome surprise to Kerry's convention managers, who had been proclaiming their delight at the absence of any internal conflicts.
Speaking of the effort to create new political and union organizations, Stern said, "I don't know if it would survive with a Democratic president," because Kerry, like former president Bill Clinton, would use the party for his own political benefit and labor leaders would become partners of the new establishment.
"It is a hollow party," Stern said, adding that "if John Kerry becomes president, it hurts" chances of reforming the Democrats and organized labor.
Stern is perhaps the most outspoken of the leaders of four or five unions that have been talking about breaking away from the AFL-CIO to form some kind of new workers movement. In the struggle for the Democratic nomination last winter, Stern's union, along with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), delivered an early endorsement to former Vermont governor Howard H. Dean -- a step that solidified Dean's status as the early favorite for the nomination.
Look, at this point I don't care to even opine if Stern is right or wrong (I think he's probably right). But kudos to him for trying, perhaps inadvertently, to force open some attempt at debate during this mind-numbing week of lemming-like "Demoratic Unity."
I'm also particularly proud that my daughter Natasha is a front-line health care organizer for Stern's SEIU.
The Union Makes Us Strong!
Remember to check out my L.A. Weekly Convention Blog Live From Boston.