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When It Comes To Raising The Minimum Wage, Conservative Dems Are Terrible-- Republicans Are Worse

Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader still adamantly opposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage

Let's reiterate: in 2019, the House passed a $15 minimum wage bill, 231-199. Generally speaking, the Democratic position was AYE and the Republican position was NAY. 3 Republicans broken ranks with their anti-worker colleagues and voted for it: Francis Rooney (FL) who was retiring, Chris Smith (NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA). Smith and Fitzpatrick represent swing districts and their votes helped them win reelection in 2020. Crossing the aisle in the other direction, 6 of the worst anti-working class reactionary Blue Dog Dems voted NAY with the GOP: Anthony Brindisi (NY), Joe Cunningham (SC), Kendra Horn (OK), Ben McAdams (UT), Kurt Schrader (OR) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM). Brindisi, Cunningham, Horn, McAdams and Torres Small were all defeated the following year and Schrader had a tough primary and in the general could only muster 52% of the vote, significantly fewer votes than Biden, who won the district 53.6% to 43.9%. Oregon Democrats have vowed to primary Schrader again in 2022. Schrader was one of only two right-wing Democrats who voted against the COVID-rescue bill but now that the Senate has removed the increased minimum wage, he announced today that he plans to vote for the revised bill tomorrow.

McConnell refused to allow a Senate vote on the bill, but this cycle it was defeated in the Senate, 42-58, every Republican voting against it (even the fake "moderates") and 8 of the most conservative Democrats joining them:

  • Tom Carper (DE)

  • Chris Coons (DE)

  • Maggie Hassan (NH)

  • Angus King (I-ME)

  • Joe Manchin (WV)

  • Jeannine Shaheen (NH)

  • Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)

  • Jon Tester (MT)

Hassan is up for reelection in 2022 and she's now among the walking dead; almost no chance to win after that vote. The big must-read story yesterday in the New Yorker was What Is Happening To The Republicans? by Jelani Cobb. Cobb answered his own question: "One answer is that the Party’s predicament might fairly be called the revenge of 'the kooks.' In just four years, the G.O.P., a powerful, hundred-and-sixty-seven-year-old institution, has become the party of Donald Trump. He began his 2016 campaign by issuing racist and misogynistic salvos, and during his Presidency he gave cover to white supremacists, reactionary militia groups, and QAnon followers. Trump’s seizure of the Party’s leadership seemed a stunning achievement at first, but with time it seems more reasonable to ponder how he could possibly have failed. There were many preëxisting conditions, and Trump took advantage of them. The combination of a base stoked by a sensationalist right-wing media and the emergence of kook-adjacent figures in the so-called Gingrich Revolution, of 1994, and the Tea Party, have redefined the Party’s temper and its ideological boundaries. It is worth remembering that the first candidate to defeat Trump in a Republican primary in 2016 was Ted Cruz, who, by 2020, had long set aside his reservations about Trump, and was implicated in spurring the mob that attacked the Capitol. One of the most telling developments of the 2020 contest was rarely discussed: in August, the Republican National Convention convened without presenting a new Party platform. The Convention was centered almost solely on Trump; the events, all of which took place at the White House, validated an increasing suspicion that Trump himself was the Republican platform. Practically speaking, the refusal to articulate concrete positions spared the Party the embarrassment of watching the President contradict them. In 2016, religious conservatives succeeded in getting an anti-pornography plank into the platform, only to be confronted by news of Trump’s extramarital affair with the adult-film performer Stormy Daniels. Now there would be no distinction between the Republican Party and the mendacity, bigotry, belligerence, misogyny, and narcissism of its singular representative."

But the character of the current Republican Party can hardly be attributed to Trump alone. A hundred and thirty-nine House Republicans and eight senators voted against certifying some of the Electoral College votes, even after being forced to vacate their chambers just hours earlier, on January 6th. A week later, a hundred and ninety-seven House Republicans voted against Trump’s impeachment, despite his having used one branch of government to foment violence against another. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, the most senior of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach, survived an effort to remove her from her post as chair of the House Republican Conference but was censured by her state’s party organization. In the House, more Republicans voted against Cheney than voted to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, the extremist Trump stalwart and QAnon promoter, from her committee posts. She lost those assignments, but only because the Democrats voted her out. Then, on February 13th, all but seven Republican senators voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial.
...[T]he Republican Party confronts a potentially existential crisis. Last year, Thomas Patterson, a political scientist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argued in his book Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself? that, over time, the Party has set a series of “traps” for itself that have eroded its “ability to govern and acquire new sources of support.” The modern Republican Party was built upon the Southern beachhead that Goldwater established more than half a century ago. Johnson rightly worried that his embrace of civil rights would lose the South for the Democrats for at least a generation. In 1968, Richard Nixon won the Presidency, employing the Southern Strategy-- an appeal to whites’ racial grievances. By 1980, the G.O.P. had become thoroughly dependent on the white South. In 2018, some seventy per cent of “safe” or “likely Republican” districts were in Southern states. Prior to last year’s election, Southerners composed forty-eight per cent of House Republicans and seventy-one per cent of the Party’s ranking committee members. The South remains the nation’s most racially polarized region and also the most religious-- two dynamics that factor largely both in the Party’s political culture and in its current problems. “The South,” Patterson writes, “is a key reason why the GOP’s future is at risk.
In addition, the G.O.P.’s steady drift toward the right, from conservative to reactionary politics; its dependence on older, white voters; its reliance on right-wing media; its support for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; and its increasing disdain for democratic institutions and norms all portend increasing division and a diminishing pool of voters. Republicans, Patterson says, have been depending on a “rear-guard strategy” to “resist the ticking clock of a changing America.” Time may be running out for the Party, as its base ages and dwindles. “Its loyal voters are declining in number and yet have locked the party in place,” Patterson writes. “It cannot reinvent itself without risking their support and, in any event, it can’t reinvent itself in a convincing enough way for a quick turnaround. Republicans have traded the party’s future for yesterday’s America.”
...Jimmy Gurulé, who was [George W. Bush's] Under-Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said that the Republican Party he knew “no longer exists,” that what exists in its place is simply “the cult of Trump.” Trump’s centrality has so far survived his loss to Joe Biden and the spectacle of the Capitol riot. In states across the country, local Republican officials are working against leaders whom they deem disloyal to the former President. The Arizona Party even censured Cindy McCain, the widow of the state’s six-term senator. The result is that the Party leadership sees no popular incentive to move toward the center, even as the warning signs of decline accumulate. Last year, for the first time, the number of registered Independents exceeded the number of registered Republicans. In the eight Presidential contests since 1988, Republicans have won the popular vote only once, in 2004.
...The arc of political movements in this country has never been predictable. The Democratic Party, confronted with a changing nation, chose to adapt, evolving, over time, from a bastion of pro-slavery sentiment in the nineteenth century, and of volatile racism for the first half of the twentieth, to its current status as a multiracial coalition emphasizing civil, women’s, and immigrants’ rights. That transformation mirrors the narrative that the country likes to tell about the growth of American democracy. The Republican Party, which had a firmer grasp on that ideal at its outset, rose from a passionate opposition to the spread of slavery to become a redoubt of Confederate sympathizers and racial reactionaries, and home to the twice-impeached former President who cultivated them. Jennifer Horn, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, told me that the G.O.P., in its current incarnation, is “the most open embrace of an anti-democracy movement that we have seen in our country in a very long time.”
Horn quit the Party in December and, until recently, worked with the Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans dedicated to preventing Trump’s reëlection. She added, “This Republican Party cannot win a national election. Everybody will say, ‘But look, Trump brought more people out than they did before.’ Yes, but the opposition brought out even more people.” The Republican Party appears to have decided in the wake of Trump’s defeat that, particularly at the state level, it will pursue tactics, such as gerrymandering and voter suppression, that will enable it to wield power even from a minority position. Since the Civil War, Van Buren’s ideas about the stabilizing effects of partisan competition have held sway in American politics. But it is increasingly reasonable to revisit Washington’s perspective that, under the right circumstances, a party could become antagonistic to the health of democracy.
...Republicans have moved further away from emerging groups in the electorate, resurrecting political tactics that are reminiscent of the segregation-era South. “If your base is ninety per cent white, and you’re losing Asian-Americans by two to one, the Black vote by nine to one, and the Hispanics by two to one,” Thomas Patterson told me, “voter suppression becomes the only viable strategic option.” Just since the Senate and Presidential losses in Georgia, the Republican-controlled state legislature has introduced twenty-two proposed laws that would make voting more difficult in that state; the most restrictive would limit absentee voting and early voting on weekends. (Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed HR1, a huge reform package that would expand voting rights; no Republicans voted for it.)

So... back to the minimum wage and conservative reporter Alex Seitz-Wald theory that the fight for the minimum wage has scrambled party politics. That's because one right-wing populist, Josh Hawley (R-MO) favors it and the 8 ConservaDem senators mentioned above opposed it. Seitz-Wald should find something else to write about. "For the first time in years," he reported, "Democrats may find a receptive audience from major business interests and some Republicans for raising the minimum wage-- although not all the way to $15. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the titan of Washington business lobbying, says the current $7.25 federal minimum is 'outdated.'" Costco has recently raised its minimum wage to $16/hour, still not a living wage but far more so than the Republicans, ConservaDems and Chamberites who see an $11 minimum wage. Remember, not a single Senate Republican-- not Collins, not Murkowski, not Romney and not Hawley-- voted for Bernie's $15 minimum wage amendment. And not a single Republican voted for it in the House.

Seitz-Wald reported that "Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage, including a strong contingent of Republicans. A growing number of major cities and states have set their own wage floors at $15. Florida voters last year overwhelmingly approved the referendum, voting 61 percent to 39 percent to raise the state's minimum wage to $15, even as they voted for Trump. And Arkansas, a relatively low-income and deeply conservative state, has set its minimum at $11. Some business groups and Republicans see the writing on the wall and have rushed to get ahead of the issue."

Republicans? Which ones? Not any in Congress.

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