Gibson writes: "Nearly everyone in America agrees on two things - people who work hard should be able to pay their bills, and establishment Democrats who embrace big money over economic populism have no future."

Voters in 4 red states approved minimum wage hikes. (photo: Reuters)
Voters in 4 red states approved minimum wage hikes. (photo: Reuters)

A Bad Election Night for Democrats, but a Great Victory for Workers

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

05 November 14


early everyone in America agrees on two things – people who work hard should be able to pay their bills, and establishment Democrats who embrace big money over economic populism have no future.

Even in overwhelmingly red states like Nebraska, which elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate by a 35 percent margin; Arkansas, which elected a Republican U.S. Senator by a 17 percent margin; and South Dakota, where a Republican U.S. Senator won by almost 24 points, all of those voters agreed to raise the minimum wage.

Even after electing a Republican governor, 68 percent of Illinois voters agreed to tax millionaires to raise more funding for schools, and passed a nonbinding minimum wage increase, putting pressure on the state legislature to follow their will. And as of right now, Alaska is voting to increase their minimum wage by a 2 to 1 margin. That means in all the states where raising the minimum wage was on the ballot, voters supported it enthusiastically. To top it off, San Francisco voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by a vast majority, and Massachusetts voted for workers to have a week of guaranteed paid sick days. By all counts, working people should be extremely happy about last night’s election.

But let’s be absolutely clear – the American people didn’t vote for a Republican senate because they like Republican ideas, they voted for Republicans when there was no clear alternative. The few Democrats who did win last night, like Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, won by proudly defending Democratic victories on kitchen table issues, like Obamacare providing health insurance for 10 million people, rather than running away from them. Gary Peters, who won Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat, ran on acknowledging the reality of climate change and doing everything he could to stop its acceleration.

The Democrats who lost had no excuses. Martha Coakley lost the gubernatorial election in the Democrat stronghold of Massachusetts, which voted for Democrat Ed Markey on the same ballot and sent Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate two years ago. Coakley’s campaign was just as milquetoast as her failed bid for U.S. Senate in 2010 when Scott Brown beat her. Mary Burke -- the multimillionaire CEO whom the Wisconsin Democrats anointed as their nominee before anyone else even had a chance to make their case – lost to Scott Walker, who says $7.25 an hour is a living wage. Despite Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts for the wealthy decimating the economy, and the state budget becoming the central issue of the campaign, his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, wouldn’t even say whether or not he would repeal the tax cuts and lost handily. And Florida Democrats lost after nominating a Republican to run against a Republican, for chrissakes. And if you need further proof that Democratic Party bosses are completely out of touch with what the people want, Harry Reid thought last night’s resounding defeat happened because Democrats didn’t do enough of what Republicans want.

According to last night’s exit polls, voters by and large can’t stand Republican leadership in Congress, and detest the White House. 79 percent of voters polled didn’t have one good thing to say about Congress. A majority of people said they didn’t like the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. The American people are pissed off that nobody in office listens to them, especially about the bread-and-butter issues they care about the most. Americans don’t give a damn which party is in power, as long as they get a fair wage for their work and are treated with dignity at their jobs, that they’ll be able to retire at a respectable age, and that they can see the doctor when they need to.

As long as the bosses who run the Democratic Party are calling the shots, they’ll chalk this staggering loss up to not cozying up enough to big money donors or not hiring enough consultants. If the overwhelming majority of American people who want economic justice don’t want wealthy, out-of-touch party bosses to make decisions for us, maybe we should take after the voters of Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota – let’s do it ourselves.

Carl Gibson, 27, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nonviolent grassroots movement that mobilized thousands to protest corporate tax dodging and budget cuts in the months leading up to Occupy Wall Street. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary We're Not Broke, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Carl is also the author of How to Oust a Congressman, an instructional manual on getting rid of corrupt members of Congress and state legislatures based on his experience in the 2012 elections in New Hampshire. He lives in Sacramento, California.

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