If you are a union member, you're probably noticing that lately almost every word out of the President's mouth seems to conjure up the spirit of Ronald Reagan. To find out what happened to the man we voted for, visit my Listen Here! page.
Part One Of The Five Part Series-Don't Be Upset With Us, At Least We're Not Republicans!
Examining the actual role of the Democratic Party In post Reagan America.
Ronald Reagan's ideaology was a product of the years that he spent as corporate spokesman for and contracted employee of General Electric. Reagan's time with GE was sort of a political conversion process. When he joined GE, he was a Democrat who was once a union president (Screen Actor's Guild). He hosted GE Theater on CBS and, as part of his duties for GE, gave "inspirational" speeches that expressed the company's position on various issues to employees at various GE plants and locations. Reagan also made the rounds in the rubber chicken dinner circuit, giving those "inspirational" speeches to civic and community groups in small town America, mostly in the South and Midwest, in so called "Right To Work States."
GE was also training other people to become corporate spokespeople and carry their message.
During his time with GE, Reagan learned the labor relations and other theories of Lemuel Boulware, a GE Vice President of Labor and Community Relations. In union circles, he was notorious for inventing a "negotiating" technique known as "Boulwarism" or the "Boulware Contract", where the company representative puts one offer on the negotiating table and tells the union representative that "this is our first, final, best, and only offer". This take it or leave it technique was later declared to be an unfair labor practice by the National Labor Relations Board.
By the time Reagan completed his contract with GE, he was a devout "free" market conservative who knew how to deal with unions. You might say, he was destined to become a newly minted corporatist President, a de-facto corporate Manchurian candidate. I wonder how many other corporations had similar spokesmen training programs?
He got to put all that political "training" into practice between 1981 and 1989, during his two terms as president. In 1981, Reagan broke up PATCO, the Air Traffic controller's Union, fired PATCO members for striking and brought in replacement workers. That action sent an all important signal to America's corporations that it was open season on unions. Reagan poured salt on the wound by appointing anti-union people to the NLRB, the Federal agency that regulates union/employer relations. This was the beginning of the end for the middle class and the American dream.
Ronald Reagan was a firm believer in "free" trade and proposed the ideas behind NAFTA during his campaign in 1979. As you will see in another part of this series the NAFTA concept was actually implemented by a Democratic administration. Needless to say, "free" trade is a cancer that attacks middle class jobs.
Deregulation was another Reagan specialty. He believed that government shouldn't stand in the way of corporate profits. Many government regulatory agencies became rubber stamps for the industries they regulate as the agency ranks were filled with Reagan appointees. I have personal experience with the effects of deregulation on the broadcasting industry, which I will cover in the next installment.
Next: Part Two, Television & Radio, A.K.A. The Crack of Politicans!