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Labor leader J. David Cox Sr. at the DNC: Let's organize

Labor leader J. David Cox Sr. addressed the delegates to the Democratic National Convention on the first night, which featured a focus on labor and wages. His remarks:

Sisters and brothers ...

I am proud to be a member of the Maryland delegation to the Democratic National Convention. I’m honored to share my thoughts with you today. And I’m thrilled to be among so many good friends, fellow trade unionists, outstanding elected officials, and fantastic candidates for public office.

Great progressives like my congressman and future senator, Chris Van Hollen and ... my state senator and future congressman, Jamie Raskin.

I don’t know what the right term for it is ... freak show, train wreck, mass insanity, hatefest, primal scream ... but after watching last week’s Republican Convention, I’ve never been prouder to be a Democrat ... and I’ve never been more enthusiastic about electing Hillary Clinton the 45th president of these United States.

The differences between our party and theirs is wider than the Grand Canyon ... in the temperament and fitness for office of the two nominees ... in their aptitude for governance. in their use of racist and sexist dog whistles... in their attitude toward diversity... and in the substance of their platforms.

One giant difference ... one that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but is very close to my heart ... is what the parties want to do on veterans’ health care.

As some of y’all know, I worked for decades caring for veterans at the VA. By all objective measures, the VA is the most effective health care institution in the United States ... providing the best quality of care in the most cost-effective way.

Not coincidentally, the VA is ... wait for it ... SOCIALIZED MEDICINE! Almost every health care provider is employed by the federal government and every facility is owned by the federal government.

The VA shows there are some things government does better than the private sector. But more important, the VA reminds us that there are some things nobody should get rich off of. Some things that need to be done on a not-for-profit basis.

And treating the wounds of war is certainly one of those things.

But Republicans don’t respect this. And that is why the VA is straight in the crosshairs of Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, and today’s Republican party. Because for them, nothing is sacred. Nothing should escape their greedy schemes to profit from government.

They’ve hatched a plan to close down the entire VA and throw veterans to the private sector wolves. They want to send both our veterans and our tax dollars to private health insurers, and force veterans to fend for themselves.

On VA privatization, we don’t say no. We say HELL NO!

We are not going to let anybody get away with destroying this great institution.

And we are not going to let them get away with destroying the greatest institution for economic justice in American history ... the labor movement. Not on our watch!

Just look at what the party platforms say about labor issues:

The Republicans call for passing a national “right to work” law ... repealing the prevailing wage ... denying TSA workers the union representation they have now ... freezing the minimum wage to lock millions of workers in poverty ... and privatizing everything in sight.

By contrast, our party supports card check and first-contract binding arbitration ... opposes “right to work” laws ... backs a necessary increase in the minimum wage ... and enthusiastically supports fundamental worker rights.

And this brings me to my main point today:

There is not one single problem facing our nation that can’t be made better with more union members!

Republicans know this ... which is exactly why their first act in office usually involves passing “right to work” and repealing collective bargaining.

It’s long past time every Democrat knows this, too. I know Hillary Clinton does... but every single office-holder and candidate of our party must understand these fundamental truths:

If you want to fight income inequality and restore the middle class, the solution is more union members.

If you want an economy where workers receive the fruit of their labors, the solution is more union members.

If you want state and local governments to enact policies to improve roads, schools, parks, and policing the solution is more union members.

If you want a government that meets Americans’ needs, protects us from harm and promotes good jobs and secure retirement, the solution is more union members.

If you America to have the world’s best infrastructure, the solution is more union members.

If you want to stop bad trade deals written by and for giant corporations, the solution is more union members.

And if you want to win on November 8th and return the House and Senate to Democratic control...... the solution is more union members ... because union members are the last remaining reliable working-class Democratic voters.

Brothers and sisters, between now and election day, we’ve got to do everything in our power to elect Hillary Clinton because she will stand with us and fight for us in the White House. We’ve got to take back the Senate and the House. We’ve got to take back our state governments, too.

And we’ve got to get serious about that dangerous demagogue who would tear this country apart. His campaign’s appeal to racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attitudes, his effort to scam working people into blaming immigrants for their problems, all must be rejected.

I grew up in the Jim Crow South, so I know all about his politics of hatred, the racism he exploits, the divide and conquer scam he’s running.

Make white workers who are screwed by the system blame their problems on people who don’t look like them ... rather than the greedy bosses who are keeping them down.

Donald Trump might have a different accent than George Wallace and Lester Mattox ... but he is running the exact same con.

And that con has been the heart and soul of the Republican Party ever since Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968.

So to all those Republicans who can’t understand why Donald Trump has taken over the party, I’ve got five words for them: LOOK IN THE DAMN MIRROR!

He’s taken their dog whistles and shouted them for all to hear. He’s taken their thinly-veiled code words and stripped away the polite language. He’s taken every thought Fox News and the Republican leadership has tried to implant in the brains of their party’s base and repeated them out loud with no sense of shame.

Donald Trump is just the 21st Century Republican Party taken to its logical conclusion.

We can’t afford to laugh at him any more because the prospect of a President Trump is downright terrifying. It’s no exaggeration to say he poses the greatest threat to American democracy in our nation’s 240-year history. The forces of hatred and violence he’s trying to unleash could destroy our society. His insatiable ego, willful ignorance and bottomless anger could even blow up the world.

And the worst thing of all would be if we normalize his behavior ... if we treat the calls to lock up or do violence to or shoot Hillary Clinton as no longer beyond the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Outrage is the only legitimate response to this dangerous man.

Unfortunately, there’s always been a market in America for charlatans and swindlers. And when people are mad as hell, there’s always a risk their anger will aim in the wrong direction.

So here’s the deal: If we take Trump’s defeat for granted, we’ll be in for a rude awakening in November.

And let me tell you something else ... if y’all are tempted to take Maryland for granted, just repeat these three words over and over: Larry. Freaking. Hogan.

We have got to fight like our lives and livelihoods depend on it. We’ve got to register voters ... man the phone banks ... wear out the shoe leather going door to door ... protect voters’ rights ... and get out the vote like never before!

We’ve got to do it Maryland ... and we’ve got to be ready to cross the border into Virginia and Pennsylvania if that’s what it takes to elect the Clinton ticket.

Because if we’re ever going to take back our country for working families ... November 8th is where it all starts.

So let’s fight fiercely with all the fire and fury we can muster.

Let’s organize, energize and mobilize.

Let’s educate, agitate and motivate.

Let’s incite, perspire, and inspire.

And let’s do it in unbreakable solidarity.

Because it’s all for one and one for all!

This is on us. This is our charge. Our calling. Our mission.

Let’s join together, sisters and brothers. Arm in arm. Let’s battle. Let’s fight. And let’s win for all the values we hold dear ... and all of America’s working families!

Thank you.

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