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Eugene Debs Said It Best: Think for Yourself

In his April 2, 1925 speech, Eugene V. Debs said, “The capitalist politician tells you how intelligent you are to keep you ignorant. I tell you how ignorant you are to make you desire to be intelligent.” The kernel of this speech offered a telling measure of foresight by Eugene Debs: “This world respects as it is compelled to respect,” Debs declared. “Develop your own capacity for clear thinking. Unorganized, you are helpless, you are held in contempt. Power comes through unity.Organization or stagnation, which will you take? The labor movement must either go forward or backward.” At this time, the unions are in the fight of their lives and must pick a side or just go in on their own, and spend their money on local and state elections--this is where they can do the most with their money. It is easier to elect people who will support Project Labor Agreements on job sites, which are prevailing wage jobs based on union wages for each trade; and also be able to keep the elected official focused on campaign promises. This will help rebuild trade unions’ membership and their healthcare plans and pensions’ coffers. They can still support federal government people with boots on the ground, but keep their money local while educating their members on why they need unions to survive. In the 2016 presidential election, it is imperative we elect someone with a reputation for doing the right thing. Is it any wonder the Republicans have Donald Trump as their frontrunner after all the cutting they’ve done to education funding? The only person who has consistently been on the side of the wage slaves is Senator Bernie Sanders, who does not take corporate money or have Super PACs. Sanders is funded by we, the people. Individually we are donating millions to his campaign, and union member can donate despite their leaders choosing a lesser candidate to endorse and fund. The fact that union leaders choose candidates their members don’t support makes it all the more important for unions to keep their political donations local, which allows members to donate as much as they like on the national level. Another benefit to keeping union money local is that it can support union members who want to run for local office, whether it’s city councils, board of supervisors, school board, water districts or state office. This election will be the biggest turning point for workers in the past 60 years, and we better get it right. Even if you have a union it is constantly under attack. The United Steelworkers at the Lafarge cement plant are striking against the company’s proposed 25 percent cut to their pensions and, even worse, attempts to cut off pensions at age 87. There is no end to the attacks on workers so we have to be vigilant. You have to look out for your own interests and that of your family. Do not take a candidate’s word or promise as legitimate without checking out their past voting records, memberships to groups, associates, employment record and anything else you consider relevant. Listen carefully to what they say, do your homework, and develop your own thoughts before deciding who you will vote for. It doesn’t take long to do research nowadays with the Google.

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