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Opinion

Bessent: On Labor Day, Democrats kick off convention with nod to union base

A worker crosses the main stage at Time

A worker crosses the main stage at Time Warner Cable Arena during the public unveiling of Democratic National Convention's facilities in Charlotte, N.C. (August 31, 2012) Credit: AP

Democrats in Charlotte are all about labor.  Republicans in Tampa were all about business ownership. That difference in perspective has always been a political fault line, but now it has become a gaping, Grand Canyon of a divide.

It is Labor Day, and at breakfast for the New York delegates to the Democratic National Convention more than than a little union tub-thumping was de rigueur. But it wasn't perfunctory.

Stoked by labor leaders such as Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; and a line of New York City and upstate elected officials, it was unselfconscious and enthusiastic -- even though attention to the podium waxed and waned as the speeches went on and on.

Apparently no one in this crowd got the message from Tampa that entrepreneurs are the be-all-and-end-all of the U.S. economy. But the nation's politics has to be more than a union-management stand-off. Bridging the gap is crucial. Each side has to recognize the indispensable value of the other.

For the nation's economy to work the way it should, there has to be something in it for everybody.

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