Pundits have predicted that the Tea Party movement will morph into a Ross Perot-like political party that will kneecap Republicans in 2010 and 2012. However, Democrats may have more to worry about within their own ranks. In North Carolina, the unions have decided to start a third party of their own with the aim of unseating Blue Dogs that opposed ObamaCare:
A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.
At least they picked the right venue!
Less than two years ago, this same funeral home was a command post for the grass-roots army that propelled Barack Obama to victory in this conservative swing state. Here is where supporters distributed signs and stickers, sorted lists of registered voters and rallied with a Johnny Cash cover band.
Now, some of Obama’s supporters are mounting a defiant strike against the president’s party. The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November’s midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats.
Who are the “labor organizers” who objected to the opposition of these candidates?
SEANC and its parent group, the Service Employees International Union, possibly the nation’s most politically powerful labor union, are funding the effort, which was announced April 8. In the days since, they have hired more than 100 canvassers who are rounding up the signatures needed to qualify as a third party on the general election ballot.
This is a top priority for outgoing SEIU President Andy Stern, who considers it a way to hold Democratic lawmakers accountable for their health-care votes. “It’s not a fly-by-night kind of thing,” said SEIU spokeswoman Lori Lodes. “We’re making a very strong commitment to doing this. There is significant money behind it . . . There’s not a ceiling to what we’re willing to do.”
The unions are giving voice to progressive activists across this state who say they feel betrayed by Reps. Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, Democrats who sided with Republicans against the health-care bill.
Surprise! The union backing this is the one that has the most to gain from expanding the federal government. The SEIU can only grow its membership when Congress expands federal bureaucracies. Those who vote against the Leviathan must therefore be removed, regardless of which party it involves.
With the Tea Party, the organizational level is grassroots and dispersed. Democrats have much more to fear from this movement, at least in North Carolina — for now. Labor bosses know how to unionize and have tens of thousands of members they can use for such petition drives. They can easily create the infrastructure of a state-wide party, and they will end up splitting the progressive vote with the Democrats, reversing the inroads the Democrats made in North Carolina over the last six years.
This may be a salutary development for other reasons, especially if it goes national. Democrats have increasingly been controlled by union money and have made themselves the party of big government for that reason. If the unions split away and form their own party, the Democrats can distance themselves from the radical agenda of the unions and marginalize that big-government agenda to its obvious beneficiaries. That could kill the march towards big government. Since the SEIU and AFSCME would be using dues collected from federal bureaucrats to target Democrats as well as Republicans, both would have a stake in trimming the rolls of federal employees and ending ideas like Card Check in the private sector.
The formation of a Labor Party in the US would mean an eventual triumph of private-market policies, and the first step in reversing the monumental growth of Washington’s power. That kind of third-party formation should be cheered, as it would marginalize progressives for a generation or more.