Remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, Campaign for America's Future
Good afternoon. It's wonderful to be here with you today. On behalf of the 11.5 million working women and men of the AFL-CIO and our community affiliate Working America, I want to thank the Campaign for America's Future, and all of you, for all that you do to make real the promise of America.
My friends, in 2008, we voted, together with a clear majority of our fellow Americans, to send George W. Bush back to Texas – and to reject the policies that took America in a catastrophic direction - down a path of national ruin in every sense – political ruin in Florida in 2000; financial ruin first in Enron, then in the great crash of 2008; military disaster in Iraq; moral catastrophe in Abu Ghraib; and finally, the physical destruction of our great city of New Orleans. Continuing along this path was a journey into national darkness, and the American people finally turned away from the politics of fear and manipulation toward change.
I want to talk today about the fight for our future. But before I do I want to talk briefly about our past as a nation. On our airwaves today, you can hear a twisted version of our nation's history. People who call themselves populists defend Wall Street and big oil companies. Some of these same people then turn around and paint anyone who disagrees with them as pro-fascist – complete with images of our president in Nazi regalia. They wave the flag and attack the Republic for which it stands, shouting "keep your government out of my Medicare." In the same breath, they denounce all government and then demand that somebody "hold BP accountable." [Who do they think should do that? Rand Paul?]
I've always thought of myself as a populist. So I went back and looked at the platform of the People's Party, the original Populists. The first item in the platform was support for a government takeover of the railroads – to stop big business from oppressing farmers and workers. The last item was support for striking textile workers in Rochester, New York. Real Populists knew in 1890, and we know today, that our government – our democratic republic – together with an educated and mobilized American people – was the best check on the power of wealth and privilege. more