Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson came to UCSB Tuesday to discuss the potential threats to President Bush’s re-election campaign.
The lecture, co-sponsored by the Center for Work, Labor and Democracy and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, was originally scheduled to be in North Hall 1111 for the History 3LS class, but was moved outside the building because of a larger-than-expected audience of approximately 80 people.
Meyerson, also the editor at large of the American Prospect and political editor for L.A. Weekly, said Bush’s campaign is vulnerable because of the current economic decline. The American people currently feel economic anxiety because wage increases are not corresponding with rising corporate profits.
“We have a situation where corporate statements are showing profits going up 30 percent this year and wages are going up 1, 1 1/2, maybe 2 percent a year,” Meyerson said.
This disparity can be attributed to the decline of labor movements, Meyerson said. Ninety-two percent of today’s private sector workforce is not unionized, which he said makes those workers less likely to improve their wages. He said labor unions are critical in providing support for political parties in elections.
“[The union] … isn’t a political party but knows how to do politics and is not going away,” Meyerson said. “It’s a standing army.”
Influential conservatives like Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and Bob Dole have contributed to a negative image of the Republican Party, Meyerson said.
“These guys have a record of statements and positions that, without falling into left caricature, can genuinely be described as racist, homophobic – you name it,” Meyerson said.
The war in Iraq has also contributed to voter dissatisfaction with President Bush, Meyerson said. However, he said Democrats will not support presidential candidate John Kerry if he fails to take a firm stance on the war.
Overall, Meyerson said he expects the Democrats will do well in the upcoming election. He said John Kerry is currently doing better in his presidential campaign than Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992.
“So long as Kerry can remain standing, Bush will lose, and the necessary consequence of that is Kerry will win,” Meyerson said.
Campus Democrats public affairs director and freshman dramatic arts major Hillary Blackerby said she agrees with Meyerson’s desire to vote President Bush out of office this coming election.
“He’s right on about all the steps Democrats need to take and the steps the labor movement needs to take and is taking,” Blackerby said.