By CARL GREEN
Edwardsville, IL – The future of our nation and our Labor unions may depend on the outcome of the November election, says Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is running for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
“What happens in the next few months is really critical to the future of the United States – what we are, who we are and what we do with the rest of the world,” he told Metro-East Democrats in a virtual meeting last week from Washington.
Durbin urged Democrats and union members to vote for Joe Biden for president and a raft of other Democratic, Labor-supporting candidates.
Regarding President Donald Trump, Durbin said, “It has come down to this – this man who is serving as president of the United States has shown so little respect for this office and so little respect for the people who voted for him, that we have issues facing us today that we never should have had.”
Raised in East St. Louis, Durbin, 75, an attorney, served in the U.S. House for 13 years before running to replace Sen. Paul Simon in 1996 and he has held the office ever since, rising to become Democratic Whip, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate.
A MESSAGE FOR UNION VOTERS
Durbin had a special message for union members and Labor supporters, especially those who voted for President Trump in 2016.
“Look at what he promised,” Durbin said. “Three and a half years ago, he said we’ve got problems in America and that he was the only person in this country who could solve these problems.
“The economy was on quite a run then, but he inherited it from Obama and Biden. They had inherited a recession from George W. Bush. They rebuilt the economy, and under Obama, we had the longest surge of job creation in modern history. That’s what Trump inherited.”
Durbin likened Trump taking credit for that economy to the guy born on third base who thinks he hit a triple. Now the economy is in trouble, manufacturing jobs are being lost and Trump’s attempts to win a trade deal with China are not promising.
“Let me say this: If you happen to be a member of a labor union, Donald Trump has no use for you,” Durbin said. “He has done nothing – nothing! – to help the labor unions acquire more power. He has put people on the National Labor Relations Board who are against the unions. He appoints people to the Supreme Court who consistently rule against unions. That’s what‘s in store for this country if he gets four more years.
“So I just say to the working men and women of this country, we’ve got to get it together. I understand why you might have voted for Trump last time. Please keep an open mind this time. We need you to help us win and to move this country forward.”
DISASTROUS VIRUS RESPONSE
Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been a public health and economic disaster, Durbin said.
Six months into the pandemic, 20 percent of the world’s deaths from COVID-19 have been from the U.S., which represents only four percent of the world population.
“It’s one of the worst in the world, only behind India on a per capita basis,” Durbin said. “How could this happen? It was the same virus that hit the rest of the world. What happened was that we also got hit by Donald Trump.
“This man couldn’t have been a worse leader, couldn’t have been! From the beginning, he started saying things like, ‘Forget about it, it’s a hoax, it’s going to go away, one day you’ll wake up and it’s gone, when the sun comes out it kills it, don’t worry about it.’ Then he went into the world of medical quackery: ‘Drink a little Lysol, that might work, or let’s try to figure out some way to get ultraviolet rays inside your body. Oh, and here I’ve discovered a new drug which nobody else recognizes that I think cures everything.’
“The rest of the world takes a look at the United States and wonders what in the hell is going on,” Durbin said.
Durbin called Trump’s response to the virus “absolute madness.”
“This man ignored the experts and said whatever the hell came into his mind at those press conferences, and those doctors sat there with their hands in their laps staring into space. I wish a couple of them would have stood up and walked out. Pardon my language, but I get upset when I think about 181,000 Americans who died because of this – more than the major wars of my lifetime except World War II.
“We lost a lot of Americans to coronavirus because this president didn’t know what the hell to do, couldn’t get it together, couldn’t lead this country, couldn’t bring in the necessary resources and fought the experts all the way,” Durbin said.
Durbin predicted that Biden would win in Illinois, but he said Democrats need to win in local races, like in Madison County, where Democrat Bob Daiber is running to unseat Republican incumbent Kurt Prenzler for county board chair. Madison County was once a Democratic and Labor stronghold.
“We know there are parts of this state where we have to work harder,” Durbin said. “Madison County is one of those places.”
“There was a time when Madison County was a given,” he said. “That isn’t the case anymore. We’ve got to work really hard. There are a lot of new people in Madison County. There are a lot of older folks who have gone under the spell of Donald Trump. We can’t take anything for granted.”
ATTACKS ON THE POSTAL SERVICE
Trump and his appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have wreaked havoc on the Postal Service and the union men and women who work there in an effort to sabotage mail-in voting and hold down the Democratic vote. But the attack is backfiring, Durbin said
“Ninety percent of the American people favor the Postal Service,” he said. “Yes, we may have a complaint about this or that, but we value the Postal Service, as created by the Constitution.”
Appointing DeJoy postmaster general was a major mistake, Durbin said.
“We have a fellow running this multi-billion dollar operation who has no experience at it,” he said. “Yes, he was CEO of a trucking company, but that doesn’t mean he understands the difference between a company and a service. This is the Postal Service, it’s not the postal ‘company.’ You don’t hold something over for a day or two to deliver it. That’s not what a service is all about.”
The Postal Service fight is a union fight, Durbin said.
“The men and women of the Postal Service are members of unions, and they stand up and fight for the future of the Postal Service and for the good of their families,” he said.
“I come from a union family, and I believe in unions. I believe they do a great job. We have the best Postal Service in the world. Sure, there are shortcomings, but try to mail a letter in some foreign country and watch what happens. You’re lucky if anything is ever delivered. We ought to be proud of this and thank the men and women who make this happen.”
Given the current circumstances, Durbin urged voters planning to vote by mail not to wait for the last minute.
“Don’t wait until beyond Oct. 19 to request your mail-in ballot, and don’t wait beyond Oct. 27 to mail it,” he said. “Regardless of what the law says, do it earlier. Make sure it’s there. Because if it’s postmarked on or before Election Day, they’re going to count it.”