Friday August 06, 2021
Richard Trumka (1949-2021)
The video below is the first time I became aware of Richard Trumka, the then-AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, who, a year later became its president. It was the summer of 2008, in the midst of what felt like the most meaningful presidential election of my life. I was so much younger then.
God, I love this speech. What a breath of fresh air. And how prescient. I like him mopping his brow, old style. I like how he didn't tell that lady, who didn't want to vote for Obama because: 1) he's Musliim, 2) he won't wear the flag pin, 3) she just doesn't trust him, and 4) OK it's because he's black, I like how he didn't try to shame her or cure her of her racism. He brought it back to their town, a dying town, and how Barack Obama was going to help their town and why are you letting his skin color get in the way of that. And yes, along the way, he did mention: 1) he's not Muslim, but even if he were, so what, and 2) sure, he wears a flag pin, but even wearing one doesn't mean you're patriotic. Then he goes right at it: “We can't tap dance around the fact that there's a lot of folks out there just like that woman. And a lot of them are good union people.”
Democrats should've listened to him more. He was the way forward. He died yesterday of a heart attack, age 72.
“It takes more than a flag pin to be patriotic.” Remember. Repeat.