Why Working People Are Angry And Why Politicians Should Listen
By Richard Trumka
April 9, 2010 - 3:10pm ET
Remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka at the Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School.
I am going to talk tonight about anger—and specifically the anger of working people. I want to explain why working people are right to be mad about what has happened to our economy and our country, and then I want to talk about why there is a difference between anger and hatred. There are forces in our country that are working hard to convert justifiable anger about an economy that only seems to work for a few of us into racist and homophobic hate and violence directed at our President and heroes like Congressman John Lewis. Most of all, those forces of hate seek to divide working people – to turn our anger against each other.
So I also want to talk to you tonight about what I believe is the only way to fight the forces of hatred—with a strong progressive tradition that includes working people in action, organizing unions and organizing to elect public officials committed to bold action to address economic suffering. That progressive tradition has drawn its strength from an alliance of the poor and the middle class—everyone who works for a living.
But the alliance between working people and public minded intellectuals is also crucial—it is all about standing up to entrenched economic power and the complacency of the affluent. It's an alliance that depends on intellectuals being critics, and not the servants, of economic privilege. more