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Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Rendering Rendell's Victory-Patrick Ruffini points out some nuance that I missed in the Casey-Rendell race. Casey, while culturally conservative, was running to Rendell's left on economics, thus ceding the secular neolib vote to Rendell. Here's a good think paragraph to tack on the wall
As mayor, Rendell also proved to be the most effective union-buster in the modern history of Philadelphia in forcing city workers to give up many of the perquisites of a bloated government, a fact exploited by Casey and the public-sector unions that stood four-square behind his candidacy. But even Big Labor's behavior in this election shows that economic issues aren't as black and white as they used to be. Rendell's reputation as a pro-business moderate was bolstered by the strong support he received from private-sector unions — the building trades, the electricians, the sheet-metal workers — who generally benefit as a result of a stronger business climate, and not (necessarily) bigger government. The same impulse that impels the Teamsters to side with the Bush Administration on ANWR development also led unions whose fortunes depend on big-ticket economic activity to support the back-slapping former mayor whose tenure saw a boom in major construction projects. Private-sector unions can be as clientilistic and rapacious as any, but underneath it all, they represent an instinct that's far less destructive than that embodied by the public-sector unions who supported Casey. The Rendell-Casey fight presented voters with a messy choice between more business (with lots of cumbersome strings attached, to be sure), and more government.
If the GOP can put forth a vision that supports economic growth for everyone and not just the fat cats, you can get a lot of blue-collar votes. The construction trades and transportation workers such as the Teamsters are not endangered by free trade and are helped by economic growth. They are a natural ally of the GOP as long as basic collective bargining rights are protected, especially given that those workers tend to be more socially conservative than many of the libertine activists in the Democratic party.

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