Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader (a weekly “alternative” newspaper in Chicago) has written an article purporting to show how Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party.[1] The gist of Joravsky’s argument is this. Rauner is using his pro-choice policies to gain neutralize opposition from liberals and gain support from those Illinois Republicans who lean pro-choice. At the same time, however, he has done a lot of work to destroy public employee unions in Illinois. Exhibit A for that is his role in initiating the pending US Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which could (and probably will) end compulsory fair share dues for public sector employee unions.

In sum, Joravsky is saying Rauner is using abortion to distract people from union policy. here’s the clincher:

As for Rauner’s friends at Planned Parenthood—well, with a drop in membership, unions will be less able to help elect Democrats. So really the assault on unions is an attempt to cripple the Democratic Party. You don’t think the Koch brothers actually give a hoot about workers like Mark Janus, do you?

If Democrats can’t beat Republicans, they can’t enact liberal-minded measures, like—oh, just to pick one—reproductive rights.

Think about this, Planned Parenthood. Your good friend, Bruce, is throwing you under the bus once again. Only this time he’s got a more roundabout way of doing it.

There’s an irony here that Joravsky doesn’t acknowledge. He seems to play right into the notion that unions are adjuncts to the Democratic Party. That notion is grist for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME. Janus, in Joravsky’s own words,

is a state employee who argues that his First Amendment rights are being violated because state law requires him to contribute a “fair share” portion of his paycheck to the union that represents him—in this case, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In particular, he doesn’t think he should have to donate money to a union with which he disagrees politically.

Supporters of compulsory fair share for public-sector unions often say, quite correctly, that unions are forbidden to use compelled dues for political campaigning and that compelled dues are to be used only for implementing and negotiating union contracts. Opponents of fair share claim that the process of negotiating contracts is inherently political when the employer is the state.

But Joravsky has just reaffirmed another reason to view unions as political. Joravsky bases his argument about Rauner “crippling” the Democrats on premises that lend support for Janus’s views. According to Joravsky, unions prefer and advocate for a political party with which many union members do not affiliate, and they do so in the service to a political position with which many union members might disagree.

[1] Ben Joravsky. “How Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party.” Chicago Reader. October 17, 2017. <https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/how-bruce-rauner-is-trying-to-cripple-the-democratic-party/Content?oid=32566550>. Accessed October 20, 2017.


About the Author

Gabriel Conroy (conroy, fka Pierre Corneille and corneille1640) is an ex-graduate student. Now he writes blogs! He has a solo blog--Ye Olde Republicke. The views expressed by Gabriel (or Pierre, or corneille1640) are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of his spouse, employer, or his co-bloggers at Hitcoffee.

5 Responses to Refuting your own argument to make it

  1. I should add that I’m probably misinterpreting Joravsky’s intent. While he’s pretty clear that he hopes Janus v. AFSCME will end up in favor of fair share, he’s not particularly arguing that Janus is wrong about whether unions do engage in political speech.

  2. Jaybird says:

    with a drop in membership, unions will be less able to help elect Democrats

    My favorite take on that particular part of the article was the person who screenshot it and then said:

    “I…worked on this story for a year…and…he just…he tweeted it out.”

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