Don’t blame Stein for Trump
Peter Ranis and K. J. Walters respond, in separate letters (Clarion, January/February 2017), to James Dennis Hoff’s advocacy of third-party voting (Clarion, November/December 2016). They make an important point: the difference between the two major party candidates is real, and electing Hillary Clinton would have provided important openings for progressive transformations and placed us in a far-superior position in the struggles for working-class needs and development going forward.
However, in saying, “Voting for a third party has moral repercussions. It gave us eight years of George W. Bush and now Donald Trump” (Ranis), and, “For giving the presidency to Donald Trump, third-party voters deserve much of the blame” (Walters), they miss, in my view, a much more central issue. The tens of millions of (mostly) white working-class people who voted for their own destruction in the form of Donald Trump are the only real reason for the disaster of the presidential election outcome. Next to that, the votes for Jill Stein and other third-party candidates are insignificant. So are the fine calculations that determined the result in the Electoral College (e.g., 80,000 votes in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin), or other such “smart” analyses.
If significant sections of the working class and the 99 percent were not blinded by racist nationalism, extreme individualism, hyper-extension of the power of “politicians” and other right-wing ideologies, we would not even know Donald Trump’s name! This is the real challenge to left and progressive forces. Blaming third parties, failures on the part of this or that sector in not turning out the vote in sufficient numbers and so forth is a way of sidestepping that challenge. We are all to blame! We do not reach across the “divide” to try to understand and communicate with the Trump electorate, or break sections of that electorate off on particular issues (NAFTA and the TPP might serve as an example).
How many of us watch Fox News? How many of us follow right-wing websites and try to intervene on them? How many of us confront racism by speaking to people infected by racism directly? How many of us try to understand the psychology of the right, as well as its ideology, in anything other than the most general terms?
This is, I believe, a crucial part of the tasks ahead. It is discomforting, even possibly dangerous. That’s just another clue to its importance.
David Laibman, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, retiree
ADJUNCT PARITY NOW
This letter is in response to the article, “Brooklyn College adjuncts rally for ‘pay parity’” in the January/February 2017 issue of Clarion.
I was an adjunct for 14 years prior to joining the full-time faculty at CUNY in 2013, so I know well what it’s like to teach six classes at three different schools in one semester, to try to devote the energy required to each of them, to have classes canceled (or added) on a day’s notice, to have no health insurance and to earn wages insufficient to provide for my family.
While my PhD is in chemistry, a degree in economics is not required to understand that adjuncts have become the equivalent of outsourced labor to management. So, full-time faculty members, though I cannot comprehend why you would feel this way, even if you are not in favor of equal pay for equal work for our adjunct brothers and sisters, you must rally for pay parity selfishly!
Until adjuncts receive pay parity (what schools who truly value their part-time faculty refer to and remunerate as “proportionate faculty”), full-time faculty cannot possibly expect to successfully bargain for better pay. Until then, adjunct faculty will simply be too attractive in terms of a shortsighted bottom line – one that is not in the best interests of either students or faculty, regardless of full-time or adjunct status.
Kevin Kolack, Queensborough
The January/February 2017 issue of Clarion carried an important article titled “Union: building decay hurts education,” but it failed to mention that for the last 17 years the PSC has had an active group of Environmental Health and Safety Watchdogs who look out for health and safety issues on all campuses. The Watchdogs have semimonthly meetings and encourage members to both report all building issues (heat, cold, mold, infestation, odors, etc.) in writing to their local management and get in touch with their local chapters to look for patterns of failure to do timely maintenance or repairs. The Watchdogs office is staffed part-time by Jean Grassman (Brooklyn College) and Jacqueline Elliot (City Tech). We often tend to get used to difficult working conditions, but indeed the buildings are the air we breathe. As an activist union concerned about all issues in our daily working lives, we have always welcomed people to join the Watchdogs to represent and report on their campuses.
Joan Greenbaum, LaGuardia
Community College and The Graduate Center, retiree
Editor’s response: Clarion profiled the Environmental Health and Safety Watchdogs in the November/December 2016 issue.