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The Battle in Seattle for the Soul of the Democratic Party  --  Over Uber The Battle in Seattle for the Soul of the Democratic Party  --  Over Uber

- (Huffington) - 2 years, 1 months ago...

Pro-labor Democrats vs. anti-labor Democrats -- led by David Plouffe -- could lead to a rupture in a presidential election year It was another Battle in Seattle, and this time the good guys won. Like so many previous battles, the theater of conflict was over the conditions and terms of economic justice. But this skirmish -- over badly needed regulation for the ridesharing company Uber -- contained a Russian doll subplot within a subplot that now can be understood for what it was: a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. The fact that this is occurring in the middle of a presidential election makes it all the more ominous. I returned from Seattle not that long ago where there was a great deal of buzz over an impending vote at the city council. Legislation had been introduced that would allow Uber and other ridesharing drivers a quasi-right to form a union, if they so chose. I say "quasi" because these drivers are treated as contractors by Uber rather than regular employees, and consequently according to federal law these workers have no right to organize a union. But some smart labor lawyers had figured out a legal end run to try and rectify this situation by crafting legislation that allowed nonprofits to organize these workers. It was a bold (though some say legally questionable) strategy. The pro-labor legislation had been introduced by city councilmember Mike O'Brien, and the nine-member council was composed of eight Democrats plus one of the few elected socialists in the country. It seemed like the formula was there for a win. But not so fast. Despite that left-lean, just before my arrival Seattle's political elite had been visited by an anti-union Darth Uber figure. His name: Mr. David Plouffe. Plouffe is a leading Democratic insider that not even most Democrats have heard of. But they have heard of what he did: he was the central political strategist who got the first black person elected president in U.S. history. David Plouffe had been Barack Obama's campaign manager in 2008, and he was in town to make a play for the soul of the Democratic Party. After electing President Obama, and serving as a key advisor in the Obama administration for several years, Plouffe made what seemed like a surprising career move. He went to work as the chief policy and strategy flak for none other than Uber. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick made it clear that now Plouffe was to be "Uber's campaign manager." The Plouffe move was met with acclaim by many within the Uber orbit who hoped that Plouffe could act as the adult in charge of babysitting the worst excesses of Kalanick. It was, to say the least, an über public-relations move. Plouffe cranked his A-list contacts and spin machine into full gear, with moves like hiring an academic like Princeton economist Alan Krueger, an ally from their Obama administration days, to bring credibility to a bogus report based solely on Uber's suspect internal data (rely...

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