IRRATIONAL HATRED OF UNIONS IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE. Recently, Mark Kleiman noted, against Mickey Kaus's frequent contention that busting teacher's unions that prevent school boards from replacing bad teachers with the immense pool of brilliant teachers just waiting to be freed from odious tenure protections is the key to improving America's education system, that 1) states that don't have strong teacher's unions don't have particularly good educational outcomes, and 2) while it's a difficult social science problem, the systematic evidence that having non-union teaching improved education is scant to non-existent. This led Kleiman to ask: "[w]ill he 'fess up to the fact that, like Bill Bennett, he'd much rather smash the unions than improve the schools?" Well, glad we've cleared that up. Kaus's bizarre advice to Barack Obama reminds us again that he really does think that bashing unions -- indeed, bashing all core Democratic constituencies -- is a good in and of itself.

My question is: where exactly does Kaus see the Democratic Party getting votes? I'm reminded of Naderites in 2000 who seemed to think that progressives could put together a winning coalition consisting of white college students and disaffected intellectuals. As far as I can tell, once the Democratic Party is cleansed of every group Kaus doesn't like, they'd be left with a walk-in closet full of knee-jerk contrarian pundits and nothing else. A Democratic Party with weak labor support means a permanent Republican majority.

--Scott Lemieux

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