04/18/2008 10:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Rise of the Ludlow Democrts

Last week, I published the first of a two-part column series commemorating the anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, which happened in southern Colorado in 1914. I showed how the legacy of that horrific event is being embraced and exported by our government in the form of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. This week, my newspaper column is part two of the two-part series: How the massacre's legacy is being embraced in our domestic policy, and by a faction of Democrats we can call Ludlow Democrats.

Many of us know how the Bush administration has abandoned workers, whether it's by underfunding the Labor Department, cutting shady deals with employers like Wal-Mart or making sure the NLRB always sides with Big Business. But under the radar, Ludlow Democrats in states like Colorado are also helping undermine the labor movement.

In the last year and a half, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) has been repeatedly asked that age-old labor question: Which side are you on? And he has repeatedly answered that question by taking business's side. His first major act as governor was vetoing the most minimal legislation that would have reformed Colorado's draconian labor laws. He then endorsed legislation banning strikes and just recently went on right-wing radio to berate labor's ballot initiatives that would modestly raise workers' wages.

To be sure, Ritter signed an executive order recognizing public employee unions. But to those who say that was some sort of courageous or difficult move, I say "puh-leeze." Are we really supposed to believe it is some sort of gutsy move for a governor to merely recognize employees right to form a union? Remember, this recognition is something employees have in most states. So while I'm glad Ritter issued his executive order, I don't give him much credit for it in the same way I don't pat myself on the back for waking up each morning and getting out of bed.

No, where Ritter has really defined himself is in his aforementioned aggressive moves to undermine the labor movement. Ritter apologists have their rationales about the governor supposedly needing to do all this to appease Republican corporate interests - but last I checked, Democrats control the whole legislature and the governor's office. They don't need to answer to anyone other than the people. So Ritter is choosing his anti-union path.

I don't believe Ritter is making this choice based on corruption. He may be a lot of things, but he isn't bought-off. He's just afraid - afraid of his own shadow, and afraid of Big Money. And the problem is, there have been almost no voices here in Colorado demanding accountability and making him feel electorally insecure for selling out workers. In this state - as in many others - much of the progressive infrastructure is hyper-partisan and not used to putting heat on Democrats. The serious heat seems only to come from the Right.

That's the case in many states - and on many issues in Congress. Much of the new progressive infrastructure is really partisan first - especially when it comes to kitchen table economic and labor issues. And tragically, that has allowed the faction of Ludlow Democrats like Ritter feel free to use their power to wage a war on the labor movement. Yes, the Ludlow legacy is alive and well here in Colorado - and all over the country.

You can read the whole column at the San Francisco Chronicle, Ft. Collins Coloradoan, TruthDig, Credo Action, In These Times or Creators. The column relies on grassroots support, so if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.