I'd like to offer a link for anyone who enjoyed Billmon's front page analysis of the current state of Democratic politics.
Mario Cuomo's 1984, San Francisco Convention Keynote (warning, site has pop-ups), also called his "Two Cities" speech is a must-read.
Second, I'd like to point out that disagreeing with someone or something, is not the same as "hating" someone or something. That should be obvious. But apparently, it's not. Both sides of any dispute are tempted to engage in this kind of talk, and it's foolish.
The notion, for example, that because I might disagree with Barack Obama and the tax deal, that I "hate" him or the tax deal, is absolute nonsense.
As is the notion that if we are working to build a more just society, that we're all going to agree all the time. I'm not aware of any movement that accomplished meaningful, lasting change that did not involve some disagreement and bruised egos along the way.
The point is, the above being a given, how will history judge us and our actions against what was possible? How effectively did we stand up for our core values?
The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour.
In most places in the U.S. you'd be hard pressed to go to a diner and order a typical lunch and leave having spent $7.25 or less. Another way of putting it is that $7.25 an hour for an 8 hour day is $58 gross per day, and $290 per week, $14,500 per year.
That's worth thinking about, too.
The purchasing power of the U.S. minimum wage has only recently risen, slightly, from near 60-year lows. If the minimum wage were set to 1968 levels, for example, according to Raise the Minimum Wage.org, it would be worth $10.17 an hour.
That makes a difference to all working people who make hourly wage, especially the 3.6 million workers making minimum wage or less, who are disproportionately women.
Key FactsAs Democrats, we've spent years talking about raising the minimum wage, building the the middle class and increasing economic justice, but, try as we might, we haven't always lived up to our goals.
-Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers.
-A woman working full time, year round at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour earns just $14,500 – more than $3,600 below the poverty line for a family of three.
-The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour. Women are nearly two-thirds of workers in tipped occupations.
-Raising the minimum wage to $9.80 per hour would boost earnings for more than 28 million workers, nearly 55 percent of them women, and help close the wage gap.
The time for that to change is not four years from now, or three years from now.
The time for that to change is now.
It's going to be tough.
Working people are, quite frankly, under attack. Instead of wages going up, in many places wages are going backwards, and a two-tier system--where one generation has middle class jobs, but the next generation, does not--has become the norm. (NPR, In These Times)
Teachers are under attack. First responders and government employees are under attack. Healthcare workers are under attack. Manufacturing workers are under attack. Immigrants are under attack. We know this. But we have to keep reminding ourselves of these facts.
Of course, these facts are, literally, all around us. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to our schools, our cars, our phones and computers, the malls we shop at, and the cup of coffee we drink in the morning.
Annie Leonard at Story of Stuff puts it better than anyone.
So, with due respect to people's strong thoughts and feelings, the question tonight isn't about who hates what.
There are plenty of things that we all do oppose. Poverty and the pernicious effects of poverty. The abuse and misuse of power. Racism, sexism and homophobia. Senseless gun violence.
But, as Mario Cuomo so eloquently put it, that's not the question that history asks us. Our challenge as Democrats, our challenge as a party committed to social justice is broader and bigger than that, and it's worth quoting from Cuomo's speech because it could have been written today:
We Democrats must unite.When we come to dKos, we should assume that there is much in the above that we all share. Values that we live by and that our sisters and brothers have fought and suffered for, and that, as a generation facing a climate crisis, we must add to and innovate.
We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
Now, we should not -- we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other Party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class [...]
This is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.
We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.
We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
We -- Our -- Our government -- Our government should be able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don't fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the "world's most sincere Democrat," St. Francis of Assisi, than laws written by Darwin.
We believe -- We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
We believe in firm -- We believe in firm but fair law and order.
We believe proudly in the union movement.
We believe in a -- We believe -- We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.
We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.
We believe in a single -- We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child -- that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
But the time is not tomorrow, or next time, or "around the bend" to make our society more just. The time for change is not after a political transition, though we may be in one as we speak.
The time for change is always now.
And if millions supported Barack Obama demanding change we could believe in, there is no better moment than the present to work for that change, to fight for it, and to make sure that economic justice, good jobs and an economy that benefits and protects all of us and our planet, not just the wealthy few, is the central priority of our nation and our politics.