Now that we have President Elect Trump, we must come up with a plan on what’s next (#WhatsNext). Below, I’ll outline a possible first step of what’s next, but also want to take a retrospective look back on the general election where progressive initiatives for raising the minimum wage won despite Clinton losing and outline why.
Even though I’ve tried to suppress the thought, I can’t help but wonder if Bernie Sanders would have won the general election against Donald Trump. One way to postulate how such a scenario would play out is to compare one of Bernie Sanders’ policy proposals, specifically for raising the minimum wage, to how Clinton fared in the general election. As it happens, four states had measures on the ballot to raise the minimum wage. Let’s take a look at how Clinton fared against the initiatives aimed at raising the minimum wage.
I’m a Seattle resident and voted in favor of initiative 1433. This initiative will eventually raise the minimum wage to $13.50 in the state of Washington and provide employees the opportunity to earn sick leave days. Statewide, the initiative outpaced Clinton by 71,392 as of 11/10/2016.
To understand the degree to which the initiative outperformed Clinton, Working Washington constructed an interactive map breaking down the race, county by county. Remarkably, initiative 1433 outperformed Clinton in all but one county. Sage Wilson of Working Washington points out that “in fact, Initiative 1433 won majority support in 16 Washington counties (and 49% of the vote in two more counties) many of them far outside the Seattle metropolitan area. By contrast, Hillary Clinton only got a majority of the vote in 9 counties.” Take a look at the maps below. Click the county to receive the relevant information.
Initiative 1433 map [provided by Working Washington]
Clinton map [provided by Working Washington]
As remarkable and clear as the results were in Washington state, let’s also look at the margins of the minimum wage initiative and Clinton in the remaining states to see if this trend holds true.
- Clinton – 933,655 45%
- Trump – 1,017,166 49%
- Initiative for raising wage – 1,136,736 59%
- Initiative against – 790,389 41%
The initiative to raise the minimum wage in the state of Arizona outperformed Clinton by an astounding 14%.
Hillary Clinton won Maine 48 – 45 yet the minimum wage increase initiative was won 55.5 – 44.5 (a 7.5% difference statewide).
Hillary Clinton won Colorado 47 – 44 yet the minimum wage increase initiative won 54.6 – 45.4 (a 7.6% difference statewide).
So What Does This Mean?
First off, we can simply restate that this is just another example of the fact that progressive policies are popular. Looking back, we can postulate that had someone with a strong progressive platform, say, Bernie Sanders had run for president they could have won the hearts and minds of the individuals voting for the specific progressive policy. This phenomenon also mirrors state-by-state polling that showed Bernie Sanders doing far better than Hillary Clinton when polled head to head with any Republican nominee.
Secondly, this shows that the re-branding of Clinton as a “progressive who gets things done” failed miserably. Bernie Sanders running for President highlighted the weaknesses in her assertion of being a true progressive. Furthermore, her untrustworthy numbers, (which stemmed mainly from Clinton Foundation scandals and Emailgate) were going to make voters skeptical of any kind of re-branding. Lastly, WikiLeaks showed voters that all she cared about was courting the elite because the leaked emails contained very little about advocating for the common folk.
I caught up with Brandon Sutton, host of Project Sanity, to discuss his goals as we move forward from this election. Although Brandon is a strong advocate for challenging the US political duopoly, he believes our first short term goal should include “making strides to take over the democratic party’s leadership. There can be no compromise in this matter because the DNC leadership will not learn from this defeat because they simply cannot learn anything.” First and foremost the DNC has to appoint a new chair since the last two were guilty of tilting the primary toward the eventually failed candidate. If true progressives don’t take over the leadership of the DNC, Brandon warns that “Trump will help [democratic neoliberals] solidify their power, make them look better by comparison [to republicans], and make people long for the yoke of neoliberalism if they do not step up.”
At this very moment, the prominent names in the discussion for chair of the DNC are Howard Dean and Keith Ellison. Howard Dean would be a continuation of the status quo. Proof that the DNC either hasn’t learned anything or doesn’t care about the people they claim to represent. Lee Fang of the Intercept describes Howard Dean’s lobbying tendencies in his article “Howard Dean Says He’s Not a Lobbyist But He Sure Acts Like One.”
Since joining the lobbying industry, Dean has oddly argued on multiple occasions that he does “not lobby.” But he engages in virtually every lobbying activity imaginable, helping corporate interests reach out to lawmakers on legislation, advising them on political strategy, and using his credibility as a former liberal lion to build public support on behalf of his lobby firm clients.
In his new career, he has helped drug companies maintain monopoly power, reversed his old positions on Medicare prices, and worked to undermine a critical component of the Affordable Care Act. Though known for his anti-war rhetoric in 2004, Dean has accepted money from Mojahedin-e Khalq, an extremist group seeking regime change in Iran and has criticized President Obama’s negotiations with Iran.
Given Dean’s experience in this field, it is my belief that his name is being floated because he would be good at getting donations from wealthy individuals and corporations. Much like another former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned during the DNC convention in July.
The DNC could attempt to save face and install Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Newly prominent progressive leader Bernie Sanders is on board asking his email list to sign this petition and demand Keith Ellison be put in as DNC chair. We will soon learn whether the DNC will learn from the past or continue to ignore its constituency in lieu of corporate interest. Even this appointment would be seen as problematic by some as Ellison has been linked to billionaire George Soros and advocated for attacks on Syria.
Even if the DNC “makes the right choice,” which is not all that clear given the options made public I know more than a few people who will be pushing for a movement outside of duopoly we’ve found ourselves stuck in since birth. Nick Nowlin, the host of The Takedown which airs every first Monday of the month on The Benjamin Dixon Show, puts it like this:
Democrats have become masters of platitudes. They give you symbolic victories that do not interfere with their prime objective which is to please the donor class. The Democratic party as an institution is corrupt so changing the figureheads is not enough to overcome that corruption. If working people want a party that will represent them and not the donor class they must BUILD ONE. I know it is hard and people want to go with a seemingly easier route but we have to face reality. The democratic party has nothing to offer for anyone seeking radical transformation of the political scene.
First Step in Eliminating the Duopoly
For those fighting for the monumental goal of breaking up the duopoly, it is my hope that we can band together to pass a new federal voting rights act that will be the catalyst we need to finally overcome.
In order to end the duopoly, we have to make third parties viable. In order to do so, I strongly believe that a new federal voting rights act that includes preferential voting, verifiable paper ballots and automatic voter registration is an important first step. We need across the board voting standards so that people know what the hell is going on. It shouldn’t be an extremely different voting experience from Vermont to Washington State. A single standard would make training poll and election workers easier since no specialized practices at certain locations would exist. Also, citizen overwatch wouldn’t be so complicated since we wouldn’t have to sift through state and county laws governing the specific election in question. Automatic voter registration and verifiable paper ballots should be self-explanatory.
The important measure in regards to breaking down the duopoly has to do with preferential voting. One of the main criticisms aimed at those that support and vote for third parties is that either you are wasting your vote or you’re helping the ‘other candidate.’ Preferential voting is the easiest way to eliminate the supposed boogeyman in the voting booth. How does the smear campaign against the third-parties work if we install such a system? I’m sure they will come up with something, but this would eliminate most of the critique currently leveled at third parties. In many regards, I think that this action increases the viability of third parties more than any other action and that is why it is step one. Once we increase the viability of third parties there will be more viable candidates and elected officials from a wider net of parties will make it more difficult for the political elite to have a stranglehold on power and control of the political process and subsequent outcomes.
Pictured above – Kshama Sawant, a national leader in the resistance against the U.S. political duopoly
I urge everyone to join the conversation. This is our future and just because Donald Trump is our president, we can’t simply quit politics. For further discussion on where we go from here, check out Michael Salamone’s (someone I look up to politically) latest podcast as well as everyone in the Progressive Army.
If you would like to connect with me personally I’m most easily reached on Twitter @a_dre_easy.