Sometime this spring, Republicans turned against unemployment. In Nevada, Sharron Angle (R), the candidate facing incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (D), told local reporters, “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job.” (Untrue.) Angle also called the unemployed “spoiled.”Read the entire article here.
Rand Paul, a candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat, made similar statements, and politicians in Washington followed suit. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said on C-SPAN that extending unemployment would discourage “individuals that are out there to actually go out and go through the interviews.”
But unlike most comments from politicians, these criticisms did not diffuse into the generic noise of political chatter. They began reverberating in what might be termed the unemployed netroots — a system of highly trafficked, influential blogs and sites connecting the jobless and updating them, often in minute detail, about the ins and outs of Congress’ work on unemployment issues.
The internet has changed politics in a lot of ways. One thing the internet has done is provide the potential for powerless groups to empower themselves. Once upon a time it would have been perfectly safe for Republicans to put the unemployed down, to blame them for the consequences of their own Republican policies and their ongoing program of obstruction in Congress, preventing Democrats from providing help.
But now the unemployed have means to figure out who their enemies are and take action against them.
Working America is “the biggest organization for the unemployed,” according to spokesman Robert Fox. By the union’s own count, 500,000 of its 3.2 million members are currently jobless, and the group is going door-to-door, recruiting more members from the ranks of the unemployed.My own sense is that the Republican Party has blown their opportunity in this year's mid-term. They blew it when they decided to attack the American people, the unemployed and underemployed.
“We spend most of our time demanding the reform of banks, demanding good jobs, and trying to make sure that there’s investment being made in our communities,” says Fox. But come this fall, “We’re going to be engaging our members fully, making sure they’re aware of which candidates to support.”
“We have the ability to make sure a lot of unemployed folks know where politicians stand, who is voting against making investments in jobs, who needs to hear from unemployed workers and who needs to hear from them twice,” he says.