It would be easy to dismiss this as the extreme left and extreme right meeting on the far end of the political spectrum with no relevance to the real world.
That would be a mistake.
We're conservatives. Go back to our history.
Three generations ago after World War II ended, conservatives decided that they could work with the non-Communist Left, on the grounds that they shared common commitments to free speech, representative government, and the rights enumerated by the Constitution. Yes, there were lots of differences, but it suited the purposes of pragmatic conservatives to divide the radical left from the moderate left based on whether they supported the Soviet Union and its denial of basic freedom.
That cooperation bore fruit in two ways.
One was the academic development of the neoconservative movement. Much has been written about that, but the key point is that when liberal intellectuals actually talked to conservatives, they found out that some of our arguments made sense and conservatives weren't knuckle-dragging troglodytes who couldn't think. The result is a fair number of liberals, even if they didn't agree with us, respected us. Men like Buckley and Gingrich are the fruit of that work, and hundreds of top conservative leaders today are former liberals who realize their liberalism was wrong because they personally examined the arguments being made by intelligent conservatives.
The other was at the blue-collar level and was most obvious with the rise of the Reagan Democrats. The attempt by the Soviet Union to crush the Solidarity free trade union in Poland was a wake-up call for many American liberal intellectuals that the Soviet Union really was evil, and for lots of American union workers and conservative Catholics, sent a strong message that the Republican anti-Communist agenda might not be all bad after all.
It's easy to demonize unions in the modern conservative movement, and in today's environment I understand that. Unions today are not doing a lot of good for anyone, but there was a day when unions were regarded by the average blue-collar factory worker as the reason his job lifted him into the middle class. I'm not saying they were right, but that's how unions were perceived by members. A generation ago, lots of union workers made up the backbone of the Reagan Democrats, voting for the former union president Ronald Reagan who supported the Solidarity trade union and religious freedom against the Soviet evil empire.
I don't know that the Occupy movement has a future. I'm inclined to think it's a flash-in-the-pan.
But if not, and if it's a true populist movement with staying power, events like this at CPAC may be of real help to conservatives in building the kinds of bridges that are needed to govern.
Our history is not an infallible guide to the future, but it is a helpful guide, and in any case, much can be learned by talking to our opponents on the other side of the political spectrum.
There was a time when, however thuggish they may have been, union leaders did actually work for the betterment and protection of their members.
That has not been the case now for quite some time. Just in the past few decades we’ve seen union leaders sell out their members to support the no borders crowd in bringing in more illegal aliens for whatever reasons that certainly didn’t protect the members jobs.
Perhaps they thought they’d eventually get those aliens as members as the aliens established themselves in this country or more likely the leaders saw themselves as getting points with the increasingly established international big boys or maybe (definitely in some cases) the leaders were committed communists devoted more to their own goofy ideology than to their members.
In all of those cases the leaders put their own interests not just ahead of their members’ interests but often in direct conflict with them. Why the members put up with it or couldn’t see it, I can’t imagine. Personally I don’t like getting screwed over, but an awful lot of union people have tolerated it for decades.
We would do very well indeed if we could find a way to get through to the actual members and make their own union exploitation clear to them.
An example might be the WI teachers who got laid off because the union cut big deals with local governments that outrageously (and ultimately destructively down the road) profited some union members at the absolute loss of newer members. (Remember, if the local governments had insisted on reasonable cuts to all the union members, NONE would have had to be laid off.)
Maybe small get togethers like the one in this article are the way in. I sure hope so.