Is the $15 minimum wage movement about to become a 2016 Democrat talking point?
During the debate on Saturday night, only Bernie Sanders came out explicitly for the $15 minimum wage increase. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, also expressed tepid enthusiasm for a substantial raise in wages for America’s working poor.
It’s not a bad position to take. An August McClatchy-Marist poll shows that Americans support a raise in the minimum wage by a 36 point margin. And when it comes to Democrats, it’s even higher: 92 percent.
If Americans support the idea with that much enthusiasm, it would be political suicide for the Democrats to ignore it. Whether the candidate is Clinton or Sanders, that candidate will have to win over a good portion of independents and moderate Republicans and turn out the base for a decisive win.
The Democrats can make some political hay and lay some future groundwork by folding the wage increase movement into the party. Thus far, the $15 minimum wage movement has operated outside of the political mainstream. But it’s been very successful.
Joining with the $15 minimum wage movement won’t only help the Democrats in this election. It will tie the party to a movement that many young people will remember for the rest of their lives. It will be the way their mother or father brought their family out of poverty; the way they got themselves through college.
Sure, the Republican field gives the Democrats an advantage this time. There hasn’t been this much crazy in mainstream American politics in quite some time. But here’s the thing: their supporters will actually come out to vote.
In order to counteract that turnout, Democrats have to turn to an accessible and popular idea. The $15 minimum wage might just be it.
By joining the fight for $15, the Democrats can use a successful movement’s momentum for electoral success now and later.
Featured image by OFL Communications Dept, available under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-Sharealike license.