Keynote speaker Nancy MacLean addressed the Unifor 2019 Convention and shared her research into the political maneuvering of the super-rich, and the tactics they use to undermine workers across the United States and Canada.
In her book Democracy in Chains, she takes readers behind the scenes of today’s political establishment – led by billionaires – and reveals their decades-long strategy to change the rules of democracy itself in their favour. She outlined key points of her book to delegates and highlighted the role of unions such as Unifor in fighting back.
“When future historians look back on this moment 50 years from now and try to make sense of it, I don’t think they will focus on Donald Trump the way most journalists are now,” said MacLean. “I think they will be much more interested in a quiet transformation underway that this president’s conduct distracts our attention from.”
In describing this ‘quiet transformation’, MacLean emphasized that it is not yet complete. Their endgame would mean citizens would be left to fend for themselves and, of course, those who don’t fare well would be left without government benefits and protections.
MacLean quoted leaders of this far-right ideology as saying they aim to create a system of winners and losers where even the quality of water “might not be what citizens are used to” and where “partial shantytowns” would satisfy the need for cheaper housing as wage inequality grows and government shrinks.
MacLean urged that progressive voices must work together, preserve our public services, and fight for our rights and the gains we’ve made over many decades of principled work.
“One lesson we can draw is not to let ourselves get distracted by the daily circus, which is often quite intentional,” she said. “We need to work on democracy beyond elections – on year-round involvement of the people in our workplaces, schools, communities and governments at all levels.”
MacLean left delegates with hope and even evoked the convention theme, telling delegates that we must do “whatever it takes” to win and reform democracy to save it.