If Democrats were in power for a good stretch, filibuster-free and free of Joe Manchin, then over time every working person in the country would be better off. Or let’s just say: About 75% or more of the electorate would have more capital or financial wealth — beyond home ownership, actual claims to financial capital.
Yet Democrats find it hard to explain that to the 80% or even to themselves; they are in confusion as to what they really offer. They think that what they offer is a welfare state, taxpayer paid: An example is the “soft infrastructure” in the $1.8 trillion Build Back Better Act that Manchin stopped.
But what Democrats really offer, and would transform far more lives, is another bill that is currently blocked by the filibuster rule, one that is rarely discussed in the press, but may be in Ohio’s Senate race in the general election: It’s labor law reform, the Protect the Right to Organize Act, that would provide that financial capital and change the way we live.
A friend challenged me to figure out a way to explain this to working-class, Republican-leaning voters — to tell the average high school grad why he or she should vote for the Democrats in 2022 — just this one single election cycle.
Here are two reasons to hold the House and vote in enough Democratic senators to pass the PRO Act.
• It is your only chance to build up your financial capital.
We represent a small Teamsters local. Let’s tick off what these truck drivers get:
Wage: $46 an hour. A full pension after 30 years of $3,600 a month. That’s a defined benefit. The fund pays, no matter what; it’s insured. Then an additional defined-contribution pension where the employer lets the fund see what it can get for you in the stock and bond market. But wait, there’s more: an extra, $1,110 lump sum for every year of pension credit.
For health care: 90 percent of all claims covered, plus three free months of insurance if you’re unemployed. A $75,000 life insurance policy. And did I mention there is free legal help if anyone tries to screw with you at work?
These numbers would be bigger still if the newly elected Teamster leadership could organize more of the truck industry.
Voters have to elect just two more Democratic senators to lift the filibuster and pass a labor bill, while keeping the House in the hands of the Democrats. Just do it for one election cycle.
You can still vote for Trump in 2024. But own some real wealth — so you can look him in the eye.
• This is your only chance to build up your human capital.
You will be forced to become a bigger deal in the world. That’s what will follow when your company pays you what you deserve. The more private wealth those companies have to turn over to you, the more that they have to build you up by increasing your skill level. They are forced to make you valuable.
That’s how capitalism works, or will work if you let the Democrats put in a labor movement. It is not just that the job is more valuable to you, but you are more valuable to them — or to any other employer.
It is the only way to stop having your back against the wall.
The other night I met with some old-timers in Montana; they were part of a book group. The host that night had invited me to talk about unions. A few had been union members. One man said: “No, I never was one. But I wish I had been. I guess I came out OK. But I always knew I had my back against the wall.” He laughed: “I used to work for guys who were in a union — they had more security than I did.”
That’s the final reason — it’s the wealth, it’s the human capital, but it’s also not feeling all the time that you are powerless over everything.
So why not vote in PRO? This midterm is probably your last chance, maybe for decades. Just once — in just one election — you should stick it to the GOP, even if you’re a Republican. Or rather — especially if you’re a Republican. What have they done for you? Nothing. They have had a free lunch. You have been the free lunch.
Stop being a free lunch – set an example for your children. It will impress your wife and kids.
Thomas Geoghegan is a labor lawyer in Chicago. He is the author of several books, most recently, “The History of Democracy Has Yet To Be Written: How We Have To Learn To Govern All Over Again.”