fresh voices from the front lines of change







Everyone is reading the tea leaves to understand what the Virginia or New York City or New Jersey elections might mean in 2014 and 2016. Does Christie’s election mean Republican “moderates” are ascendant? Does Bill de Blasio’s election show that progressives are the new black? One vote needs no deep analysis: New Jersey voters (and SeaTac, too) we given the opportunity to weigh in on raising the minimum wage and they said, “Hell, yes!”

New Jersey Voters Say Raise Minimum Wage

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed a state constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage from $725 to $8.25 and indexing it to the cost of living. Latest figures show 61% support for the wage increase, while Republican Chris Christie was reelected with 60%.

Also in SeaTac, WA voters approved a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, apparently by 54-46%.

What It Means

So, people can argue what “message voters are sending” when they re-elect Chris Christie. Are they favoring Republicans over Democrats? Maybe, maybe not. Are they favoring “moderate” (HA!) Republicans over Tea Party Republicans? Maybe, maybe not. Do they just like that the guy speaks his mind, regardless of his policies? Maybe, Maybe not.

And people can argue whether Bill de Blasio’s election shows that a progressive wave is overtaking the Democratic Party and the public? Probably so, but maybe not.

But people can’t argue over the results of New Jersey’s vote on the minimum wage, and what it means to the country. Even a state that voted 60% to re-elect a Republican governor voted 61% to raise the minimum wage. There is no ambiguity in the meaning of that message sent by voters.

2014 And 2016

Often elections yield ambiguous results. Sometimes this is even intentional. Did voters vote for so-and-so because he is for or against this or that? Or did they just like him or her? Does it mean voters support progressive/conservative/corporate-centrists? So often the dynamics of the election mean the answer is, “who knows?”

When voters get the chance to register a clear vote on a clear issue, and things are not (too) fogged and obscured by corporate money, they will make their wishes clear. We the People want the minimum wage increased.

There are other things that the voters clearly want. What would happen if voters had a chance to register an unambiguous vote on reigning in CEO pay? What about corporate tax dodging? What about expanding Social Security? What about letting people buy in to Medicare as one of the choices on the new health-insurance exchanges? What about a Financial Transactions Tax?

We all know what the public would do if given the opportunity to vote on these. (If you really claim you don’t know, here is what corporate shareholders said when they had a chance to vote on CEO pay.) I think we all know what the voters would do if there was an opportunity to vote for a candidate who unambiguously sides with the voters on these.

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