The so-called “blue wave” that swept many Democrats and Progressives into office on November 6 contained a less-noticed labor wave. Not only were many of the successful candidates, who frequently washed away reactionary incumbents supported by the Labor Movement, but many were actually current or former union members.
This is an accomplishment on which to build. This election provides a model for the next election, a presidential election featuring a load of Republican Senate seats that can be flipped by candidates who support workers’ rights.
With more than 800 Labor-backed candidates winning in 2018, we expect policy changes at many levels of government. So do the voters, union and general public alike. All across the country, healthcare was a major, possibly determinative issue.
Healthcare is a concern for Americans in many ways: access and affordability being foremost. Those politicians who opposed protecting us against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions frequently and fortunately paid the price at the ballot box this year.
Labor has other matters to press. Perhaps first should be the end to voter suppression, especially affecting minorities, because progressive politics would have been even more successful if all eligible voters had been able to vote.
Moving on to a legislative agenda, the issues of protecting and expanding Medicare and Medicaid are crucial. Defending Social Security from right-wingers who want to roll back FDR’s New Deal is another imperative. Protecting prevailing wage laws is one more critical initiative.
Our allies should press for infrastructure funding and for legislation to address climate change, the harmful effects of which are now visible as fires and floods across the United States.
The 2018 election was a re-start. Let’s make use of it and keep the momentum. ■