Democrats Need To Emphasize A Higher Minimum Wage To Get The Last Bloc Of ‘Open Voters’

Democrats are squandering a potential electoral gold mine–and one that could pay out for decades (boldface mine):

Her answer, while accurate, was unintentionally revealing. When Clinton talks about millennials, she tends to use the word interchangeably with “college students.” But millennials with university degrees don’t represent their entire generation—just those with the greatest economic and educational advantages. A full 40 percent of young people never made it past high school, according to a recent analysis by CIRCLE, a research center that specializes in youth issues. Even when it comes to young voters, it would seem, Clinton instinctively speaks to the elites.

Politicians tend to ignore working-class millennials for a simple reason: They don’t show up on Election Day. Just 29 percent of blue-collar youth turned out to vote in 2012—about half the rate of those who’d attended college. But in market terms, that political disengagement represents an opportunity for Clinton: CIRCLE estimates there are more than 17 million eligible voters under 35 still waiting to be mobilized—the last big segment of American voters that is genuinely up for grabs….

James Mackey, a 30-year-old community organizer in Boston, knows firsthand how tough it can be to mobilize his peers. “If you’re trying to make ends meet every day,” he says, “working nine to five with a job that’s only paying you $8 an hour, and your rent is $1,200, and electricity and utilities are adding up, and your kids are in school, you’re not thinking about, ‘Who am I gonna vote for?’ ”

We’ll return to that last sentence in a moment.

The good news is that these voters lean heavily towards Democrats, 52 – 34 percent. The bad news is that the Democratic Party with an upper-middle and gentry class bias seems utterly clueless on how to reach them. Consider this sage advice from the article’s author:

So far, though, Clinton has failed to put together that message. To pry young, working-class voters away from Trump, she’ll need to champion a host of unglamorous, brass-tacks economic issues.

Great! And then…

Take one example that antiregulatory conservatives have embraced: streamlining the process of securing licenses for professions like hairdresser, electrician, or building contractor. “It shouldn’t take me longer to become a florist than to become an EMT,” says Patrice Lee of Generation Opportunity, the conservative youth outreach network underwritten by the Koch brothers. “It locks a lot of young people out of opportunity.”

I won’t deny this is a problem, but I would listen to the street organizer instead:

“If you’re trying to make ends meet every day,” he says, “working nine to five with a job that’s only paying you $8 an hour, and your rent is $1,200, and electricity and utilities are adding up, and your kids are in school, you’re not thinking about, ‘Who am I gonna vote for?’ ”

As Atrios suggested, the Kids Today have this interest in that old-time thing known as money. A higher minimum wage would help a lot of these voters, along with some of the other crazy-ass populist stuff that has been abandoned since the Democratic primary. As crazy as this sounds, policies that directly help people are popular. They might even be inclined to show up and vote if they are given a reason to do so.

A significantly higher minimum wage along with an infrastructure program that, among other things, would provide jobs would be good reasons to do so. And not a $12/hour wage, but $15 (for many workers $12 in five years doesn’t mean anything).

Or Democrats can spend our time harping on how awful Trump is. Because that seems to be working.

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3 Responses to Democrats Need To Emphasize A Higher Minimum Wage To Get The Last Bloc Of ‘Open Voters’

  1. Net Denizen says:

    In a country where 60% turnout is considered above average, you’d think dems would try to figure out how to get those 40% who didn’t bother to show up. It’s as simple as going to their neighborhoods and — gasp! — talking to people! I used to do a bit of outreach for Greens many years ago and one thing we heard more than any other is “those damn politicians (of either party) don’t give a shit about us”. All they want is for someone to give a shit, this should not be as difficult as it ends up being.

  2. Tracy Lightcap says:

    Look, this is an example of Newton’s First Law applied to politics. You remember: “For every action there is an equal, but opposite reaction.” Every time you take a policy stance you take a risk: almost every policy has as many opponents as proponents. What every politician has to do (especially if they are running for president) is gage how likely it is that taking a policy stance will alienate more voters they already have then motivate new voters to their side.

    So why not go after millennials? Well, first off, Clinton has done so; read her policy positions on this. Then why has she kept so quite about it? Well, she hasn’t, but you can’t please some people. So why are people prating about this problem? That would be because she hasn’t made this the center of her campaign effort. And why is that? The story tells us all: millennials DON’T VOTE. So by shouting on the roof tops, she would risk alienating voters (i.e. conservative and neo-liberal Dems) that she already has in her pocket for the doubtful premise that she will motivate enough new young voters to make up the difference and then some. If I were reading polls for her, I know what I’d say to that.

    This comes up every presidential year. Progressives think that all they need to do to win big is motivate poor people. There are more of them and they seem like natural Democrats and progressives. But doing that in the space of an election season is virtually impossible and, despite appearances, a lot of poor people (reference Louisiana or Mississippi) are not going to vote what others think are their economic interests. That’s why if you are a Democrat running for president you go after minority voters. They are more likely to vote then other poor people, they have greater solidarity, and they are royally ticked at the Republicans most of the time.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  3. eugenevdebs3 says:

    Reblogged this on eugenevdebs3 and commented:
    This seems rather obvious. Why the hesitation?

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