In These Times' David Moberg talked with CWA President Larry Cohen on the 25th anniversary of Jobs with Justice. Here's part of the interview:
How would you assess the organization's success, lessons learned, things you would do differently?
The key [lesson from that for] today is partnering, which is what we're trying to do, to build a movement for democracy &mdash that's the difference here [from 25 years ago] — and economic justice with 50 million Americans. No one organization is going to lead that [movement], and in fact we need millions of people to organize in all kinds of ways to make that happen.
What we've learned is a plan was already underway by the right-wing to, in my view, destroy democracy. Collective bargaining rights were on the front end of that attack. We would now say that the democracy pieces are forerunners. We can't just hope that they'll occur. They're fundamental, about as fundamental as they've ever been in the history of this country — getting the money out of politics; money is not speech; corporations are not people. A lot of [the problems with corporate political power] started with union-busting in the '40s. Courts looked the other way and said it was free speech rights, and now it has come to haunt the entire political system.
We have the worst Senate rules ever today. We hope a small step will be taken soon in that regard [to change filibuster rules]. Reform [on major issues] has been blocked for 10 years in any meaningful way because of how the Senate operates. We have visions of what people did in the 1960s with civil rights, not realizing that our government doesn't operate the same way anymore because of this pervasive influence of the super-rich and right-wing.