Voters and candidates should both listen up
There was a point during the most recent Democratic debate which I think demonstrates perfectly what I wrote about in the last article on how our politics is no longer about listening. If you didn’t watch it, don’t, because there was really nothing new to what was being talked about. However, I do encourage you to watch the segment on raising the minimum wage, which produced one of the livelier exchanges during the night.
The question asked to Hillary Clinton that sparked the controversy was whether or not she would sign a bill passed by a Democratic Congress that raised the national minimum wage to $15/hour. She said that yes, she would, and has supported the efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour all along. Bernie balked and challenged her statement, saying that she has never supported such a raise until saying it on-stage at Brooklyn.
Here is the thing: she technically has. In typical Clinton fashion, she stayed mum on the point for a long part of her summer listening tour. However, she did voice support for the striking fast food workers in New York City, who were stridently advocating for a $15/hour minimum wage at the time. Now, just like she said at that time, Secretary Clinton said that the national minimum wage is a floor for the country’s wages and that the floor needs raising. Not too long afterwards, a bill put forward by Democrats in Congress proposed a five dollar hike to make it $12/ hour, which is the position that Hillary Clinton has since adopted. Hillary Clinton clearly supports efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, but does not think it economically smart to enact nationwide, nor able to pass through a gridlocked Congress.
Last week I said that voters are no longer listening to one another, and Senator Sanders lambasting Secretary Clinton for her supposed “opposition” to a $15/hour minimum wage is a perfect example of that. To Bernie, unless she was actively campaigning on a promise to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15/hour, she was against the idea. He didn’t listen to her explanation at all, because she was either with the living wage movement or against it. There was no gray, no nuanced approach, just ideological adherence.
What the Democratic debate last Thursday showed was that no one is listening to each other anymore. There is no room to stop, think and consider the question asked to candidates any longer. The only time between question and answer anymore is the time needed to figure out whether you are for or against X, Y or Z. Hillary keeps getting asked if she is with us or them, and continues to be criticized for answering somewhere in between.