I was astounded by what my local Republicans wrote on the subject of Labor Day. These days I guess I shouldn’t be surprised (after all, they did invite us to join the Tea Party’s “Boycott Labor Day” event in 2012), but this time their message was so full of contempt for working Americans, so disdainful of the tradition of the holiday, and so deliberately misleading — that I felt compelled to respond.
First of all, today isn’t a day of rest and relaxation for everyone. If you go to the grocery store or the gas station today, the folks working there are struggling like you and me. And they have to work nights, weekends and holidays if they want to earn a living. Having worked in various industries such as foodservice and retail, even digging ditches for minimum wage, I understand that sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get by. This is something the Republicans don’t seem to understand.
In the Republicans’ world, the President doesn’t actually have “respect for the value of work” – despite the fact that he is fighting for an increase in the minimum wage, in other words, paying people for the value of their work, which Republicans oppose. They believe we want a society where “a growing underclass lives on the government dole” and that we would deny people the self-respect of knowing they’re pulling their own weight.
Finally, Fairfax Republican Chair Matt Ames goes as far as to say that we have “a fundamentally false and foreign philosophy” that threatens our way of life. I have to ask, do they actually believe President Obama wants America to fail?
I’ve got news for the Republicans: today’s workers are pulling their own weight — they’re just not being fairly compensated for it. And the vast majority (nine tenths) of those who receive government assistance (who Mr. Ames contemptuously describes as the “growing underclass”) are in working families, or are elderly or disabled.
This is a classic example of the Republicans’ tactics to divide us by using the politics of resentment. Let me make this clear: we value the working class of America. It was the progressive movement that started Labor Day. That’s why the employees who serve you have overwhelmingly voted Democratic.
Executive Director, Fairfax County Democratic Committee