Thank God for roosters! Were it not for these little creatures we would live in a world of perpetual darkness for the sun wouldn't rise. Well, at least that's the impression you'd get if you listen to the roosters.
The very same applies to labor union political influence. In the 1994 elections, Republicans captured control of the U.S. House of Representatives. In October of 1995 when he was elected President of the AFL-CIO John Sweeney promised to spend $35 million in the 1996 elections to recapture control of Congress for those beholden to union special interests. It didn't happen. The AFL-CIO then pledged to spend $28 million to accomplish the task in the 1998 elections. The money was spent but Congress remained in Republican hands. The sad tale goes on election year after election year, tens of millions of union dues dollars after tens of millions of union dues dollars, 2000 - $46 million; 2002 - $35 million; 2004 - $44 million.
These are, of course, minuscule amounts compared to what the unions actually spend but they are for some reason the ones that grab the headlines.
Then, cock-a-doodle-do, in 2006 with an unpopular Republican President half way through his second term in the White House, a less than popular war half a world away that few understood, an uncertain economy and a Republican majority in Congress that had abandoned all pretense of fiscal restrain, the Democrats recaptured control of Congress and the Union Bosses dislocated their shoulders patting themselves on the back with congratulations.
Then comes 2008 with the economy in dire straights, the war, if the word "war" is really a good description of the mess in Iraq, seeming to be endless, a lackluster candidate at the top of the Republican ticket and the Democrats increase their majority.
Cock-a-doodle-do again. To listen to the Union Bosses you would get the impression that the sun will not rise on the Democratic Party's candidates if they don't strut and crow.
The fascinating thing about this is that there are a great many members of Congress who are acting as if they believe them.
Now here's a strange thing. On November 3, 2009 the voters in New Jersey went to the polls and elected a Republican governor. No less a personage as the Vice President of the United States visited the New Jersey AFL-CIO convention to exhort them to support Jon Corzine's reelection.
The state AFL-CIO chief pledged that there would be an army of volunteers working for Corzine every week until the election. President Obama himself visited the state to plug for Corzine, yet when it came to election day all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't, well you know the story.
In Virginia the picture is even more stark. One of the focuses of Bob McDonnell's winning campaign for governor was his opposition to federal legislation like the perversely named "Employee Free Choice Act," which would strengthen unions by taking away workers choice. Ken Cuccinelli, the successful Republican candidate for attorney general also made opposition to the EFCA a central argument in his campaign.
And, say what you will about poor little Dierdre Scozzafava up in New York's 23rd Congressional District, two of the bad raps against her were that her husband was a union boss and that she was endorsed by the Working Families Party, an organization heavily supported by labor unions, including a $1,000,000 donation in 2008 from the New York State affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
The Democrats took a traditionally Republican seat, but the ripe odor, dare I say "stench," of union interests undoubtedly had a lot to do with the fact that the Republicans couldn't stomach the nominee hand picked by their party's leaders.
So, are the union roosters still crowing? As Sarah Palin might say, "You betcha!" But do the politicians really believe that the sun rises on them as a result? Well, they still have to pretend to, at least until the checks clear.