(Editors Note: This is a repost from last year. Seems just as relevant in 2011 as it did in 2010.)
The subject of AFofL-CIO President George Meany's labor Day address that September of 1967 was The Long Hot Summer. That was a popular phrase to characterize what went on that year, and what had gone on in previous years. The amount of unrest and social upheaval visiting our cities during those years was something to behold. Our society was going through an intense growth process and the political solutions were hard pressed in coming.
Then as now there was a growing disconnect with government from all segments of American society. The Labor movement was feeling the sting of unemployment; a problem multiplied by the plight of cities.
George Meany: “Congress holds the key to the future. Congress must use that key to open the gates of progress. Progress that, today is not just desirable, but urgently necessary.”
In retrospect, 1967 was probably a calm year compared to the year that followed. But the problem remained the same, as it's the same now; disconnect and polarization with no middle ground. The difference is, the disconnect and polarization are fueled by a media seeing a buck to be made in stoking discontent. In 1967 the media was attempting to be part of the solution. In 2010, mainstream media has become part of the problem.
And so it goes, and so it went in George Meany's time. Happy Labor Day.