Why Republicans Talk About Freedom and Democrats Don’t

Why Republicans Talk About Freedom and Democrats Don’t

Freedom, as a rhetorical tool and a slogan, is politically advantageous. Since FDR presented the “Four Freedoms” in 1941, our political leaders have uttered the word a lot. That’s not a conclusion influenced by recency bias, either.  Text analysis  from two American scholars shows freedom is more rhetorically popular than ever. Below is a graphical representation of how often our presidents have employed the term: You can see that after a hundred or so years of middling usage, the word’s popularity surged with US presidents in the 20th century. While in the last forty years it went through some peaks and troughs, freedom has remained a prominent political term. An infographic from the analysis  highlights this really well: However, it’s clear that Obama and Clinton are bucking a modern rhetorical trend. In fact, Obama is on pace to say freedom “ less often than any president since Warren Harding ” — who served from 1921-1923. Why are Democrats not saying freedom as much? The answer is rather obvious: modern conservatives have hijacked the word freedom. (I’m certainly not claiming to be the first to notice this, I merely thought it would be interesting to compile various bits of research on the subject.) Just look at FiveThirtyEight‘s analysis on political buzzwords used in Democratic and Republican campaigns dating back to 1948 . The results are unsurprising: As the anti-government wing of the GOP has grown, so has their party’s asymmetric use of freedom. Yet their fondness for the phrase was not created in a vacuum. The word’s recent unprecedented popularity stems, in large part, from their collective reaction to Obama’s presidency. To understand why their base loves hearing “freedom,” you must empathize with how Tea Partiers are feeling. To them, Obama appears to be a revolutionary socialist, a Muslim, and a black person who wants to dramatically transform America…for the worse. He dares to “ spread the wealth ” in a time of increasing income inequality. More than that, in their minds, they’re watching a president marching towards a complete government takeover of health care. To these
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Why Minimum Wage Opponents Are Dropping Big Money to Trick You

Why Minimum Wage Opponents Are Dropping Big Money to Trick You

The deeply ironic act of spending money to avoid paying workers even a cent more is not new; conservative think tanks, lobbyists, and industry groups have been shelling out money in the form of campaign donations, legal services, and “educational” materials for ages. Just look at how far the airlines and Port of Seattle went just to avoid paying SeaTac airport workers $15 an hour. That couldn’t have been cheap. And we know from a ROC report that the National Restaurant Association had (as of 2014) spent close to $13M on political donations since 1989, largely to fight proposed labor laws like increased minimum wage and sick leave. But they’re not just throwing money at guys in suits to argue that this country is becoming a nanny state, damnit! No, they are also spending decent dollars on campaigns to actively mislead you—with clever names that sound like they may be quite scholarly. Like, you know, MinimumWage.com: …Which is paid for by the very-rational-sounding Employment Policies Institute (EPI—not to be confused with the other EPI , who actually do good work), who are in fact a right-wing think tank whose major focus is ensuring the minimum wage stays as low as possible. Another “winner”: MinimumWageFacts.com: …Which is a product of the Freedom Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank which has fought the unions at every possible turn. And to be honest, I have to recognize the hustle that these groups are demonstrating. It’s extremely clever to just snatch up a domain knowing full well that people will be Googling exactly that fact. Plus, buying domains is fun! I recently did it myself! Y’all last night I had some fun with domains and I made a vanity url for my Twitter profile. Enjoy: https://t.co/3Sr7TW5mc3 — Hanna Brooks Olsen (@mshannabrooks) April 19, 2016 But truly, the idea of spending real American dollars for the express purpose of spreading misinformation (more on that later)
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Daily Clips: April 22nd, 2016

Daily Clips: April 22nd, 2016

Just a reminder that the majority of GOP voters support banning Muslims from entering the USA:  The party of individual freedom, everyone! Governor issues sweeping order to let felons vote in Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe “is using his executive power to allow more than 200,000 convicted felons who have served their prison time to vote, circumventing the Republican-run legislature.” I’m sure they’ll just love that. The most focused and effective messenger for Democrats is Elizabeth Warren: Of all the Democrats in positions to make their voices heard at this point, Warren is the most awake. Wide awake. And she is saying what needs to be said about the conservatives who would be president. What’s important is that, while she notes their whining and their failures, Warren attacks the Republicans with a focus on the issues and the ideals that are the most effective tools for countering right-wing extremism. Tweet of the day: Taxpayers subsidize McDonald's low wages to the tune of $1.2 billion / year. Its time to change that. #Fightfor15 . https://t.co/hTmpuPt26u — ATLRaiseUp (@ATLRaiseUp) April 22, 2016

Daily Clips: April 21st, 2016

Daily Clips: April 21st, 2016

Nick Hanauer and Robert Reich pen an op-ed on overtime:  Our supreme troublemaker took to the New York Times to illustrate the secret reason folks in the middle class cannot get ahead. The answer? The evaporation of overtime pay in our economy. Half a century ago, overtime pay was the norm, with more than 60 percent of salaried employees qualifying. These are largely the sorts of office- and service-sector workers who never enjoyed the protection of union membership. But over the last 40 years the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, so that only about 8 percent qualify today. If you feel as if you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are. That’s incredible. And it underlines why we live in an economy where wages remain stubbornly stagnant for the middle class. Could Elizabeth Warren be Hillary’s VP pick? “Privately, Warren appears to covet the job.” Really? I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that or if it’s just the media trying to make a story. They go on: She’s picked her spots, carefully choosing which issues she weighs in on. But she’s signaled recently that she would embrace with gusto the attack dog role typically played by a VP candidate. Earlier this week, she ripped into Ted Cruz  for saying that seeking the presidency requires significant sacrifice. She spent another recent day going after Donald Trump. Warren would be a fabulous VP pick for Hillary. Not only would it excite the base, it would also signify to Bernie supporters that she will not leave them behind.  Jobs are scarce for PhD’s:   Without serious changes in higher education, such as higher pay for adjunct professors or decreasing the time spent in graduate school, chances are thousands of new Ph.D.s in their early 30s will be struggling this fall.

Surprise, Surprise! The Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Seem to Like Secure Scheduling

Surprise, Surprise! The Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Seem to Like Secure Scheduling

City reporter Erica C. Barnett reports on The C Is for Crank  that Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce is preparing its membership for  the secure scheduling law that our City Council is discussing . Maud Daudon, the president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, sent an e-mail that included the following appeal to member businesses: The Seattle City Council has started exploring legislation that would restrict how employers schedule their shift workers. We are closely monitoring the process, and have consistently shared the message that Seattle must proceed thoughtfully: scheduling is highly complex and a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach will create more problems for employees. Furthermore, many businesses already have processes in place to directly meet the expectations of their employees. If you would like to share how you’ve adopted scheduling practices that work well for your employees, please contact Meadow Johnson, our senior vice president of external relations. First of all, there is no law yet. The City Council is discussing secure scheduling with workers, employers, and labor experts, so this condemnation of a “one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach” is way too premature and constructed on nothing. In fact, based on the Chamber’s predictably negative responses to paid sick leave (PDF) and the $15 minimum wage , I think the cookie-cutter allegations of cookie-cutterism are the real cookie-cutter approach here. And the assertion that “many businesses already have processes in place” is a curious one; just because many employers pay more than the minimum wage doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have minimum wage laws. In fact, by raising the minimum wage, we’re putting less of a burden on those good employers who pay more than their low-wage competitors. So if some businesses do a good job of scheduling, why wouldn’t they want, or why would they care, if employers with exploitative scheduling practices had to follow secure scheduling laws? The business response to Seattle’s secure scheduling investigation has really been quite underwhelming. When councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold asked for
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Daily Clips: April 20th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 20th, 2016

How finance took over the economy:  A thorough historical look at the rise of the financial sector in the US economy. Bernie Sanders is (still) the future of the Democratic Party:  Hillary Clinton may have won the battle last night in New York, but it is appearing that Sanders is winning the war. By this, I mean that while Clinton may get the nomination, Bernie Sanders’ policies ultimately represent the future of America’s left wing. As Yglesias notes: But though Democrats are certainly the more left-wing of the two parties — the party of labor unions and environment groups and feminist organizations and the civil rights movement — they’re not an ideologically left-wing party in the same way that Republicans are an ideological conservative one. Instead, they behave more like a centrist, interest group brokerage party that seeks to mediate between the claims and concerns of left-wing activists groups and those of important members of the business community — especially industries like finance, Hollywood, and tech that are based in liberal coastal states and whose executives generally espouse a progressive outlook on cultural change. Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency.   Raising the minimum wage could give Democrats the economic edge: This year, the presidential debate highlights voters’ concerns about stagnant wages and the nation’s economic position. Republicans continue to argue that the answer is helping the job creators, with cuts to business taxes and regulations. If more Democrats begin to press their economic argument about growth and prosperity along with the moral argument, they will take away one of the Republicans’ few advantages with voters on domestic issues.

Pope Francis Should Not Be Applauded for Inching Towards Inclusion

Pope Francis Should Not Be Applauded for Inching Towards Inclusion

Pope Francis recently released a 256-page “apostolic exhortation” titled Amoris Laetita (“The Joy of Love”). Among a host of issues related to love and family, Francis addressed the matter of communion for the remarried (or lack thereof) and “ all but explicitly ” said “ yes they can .” The pope considerately “ left room for priests to interpret his words as they see fit since he wrote about it in a rather roundabout way .” Such deference to moral ambiguity seems peculiar, particularly coming from a man who has warned that moral relativism represents “ the spiritual poverty of our time .” When it came to homosexuality, however, Francis ditched his lack of decisiveness. This is what he had to say on the subject of gay marriage: There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. The pope’s comments are terribly upsetting, but not at all surprising. Having said that, the media’s fawning appraisal of Francis’ document has been bizarre, primarily because it’s appearing from what we would normally call “liberal” sources. For example,  here’s what the Washington Post had to say about the document’s overall message : Francis rejected outright the notion of same-sex marriage. But he laid out the church’s warmest welcome in modern times to divorced and remarried couples, saying they should not be judged, discriminated against or excluded from church life. And he encouraged their priests to be merciful in considering whether such Catholics can receive Communion. I love how the authors quickly skip over his unequivocal dismissal of same-sex couples. Sure, Francis is continuing to perpetuate centuries worth of exclusion, but come on — he’s the head of a slow-moving church. What is he supposed to do — provide moral guidance? Even the inclusive-minded EJ Dionne lapped up the pope’s document. He actually praised Francis for “ lifting up what can be called social justice Christianity .” Come again? Just a couple of weeks ago Dionne lambasted Donald Trump for being a “ clownish peddler of racial and religious stereotypes .” Why didn’t he similarly call out the pope for being nothing more than a “clownish peddler of homophobia”? Jonathan Capehart, another prominent liberal writer,
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Should You Boycott North Carolina or Not?

Should You Boycott North Carolina or Not?

Yesterday, Seattle band Pearl Jam became the latest in a string of performers to boycott North Carolina due to its bigoted bathroom law. Daniel Kreps at Rolling Stone reports that last night frontman Eddie Vedder discussed the band’s thinking at a concert just before an encore: We thought we could take the money and give it to them and still play the show, but the reality is there is nothing like the immense power of boycotting and putting a strain, and it’s a shame because people are going to affected that don’t deserve it but it could be the way that ultimately is gonna affect change, so again, we just couldn’t find it in ourselves in good conscience to cross a picket line when there was a movement so… Pearl Jam joins Bruce Springsteen and Seattle author Sherman Alexie in boycotting North Carolina over the law. At the same time, up-and-coming Seattle band Tacocat posted on Facebook that they’re going ahead with a planned North Carolina show tonight: While we respect the decisions of giant acts like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and other mega-musicians whose shows have real economic impact on the region (and whose music has a wide enough fan base to possibly reach the ears of slime-brains in power), we feel that pulling out of our show—an all-ages show booked months ago at the Pinhook, a queer-friendly/ran venue—would only further punish those being marginalized. We, as much smaller, radical-leaning bands, do not feel that resources like live music should be cut off from LBGTQ folks, allies, and young people who actually live in North Carolina. We view our live music (and the music of so many other likeminded bands) as a special tool that can be used for fighting oppression, creating an outlet to vent, or at the very least, simply as an opportunity to dance around with like-minded peers in an environment we seek
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Daily Clips: April 19th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 19th, 2016

With Kansas in crisis, GOPers abandon Gov Brownback on tax cuts: Ok, so we know that tax cuts for the rich is not a viable way of growing the economy. Kansas can attest. The state now ranks “43rd in total personal income growth in 2015.” How can that be if people are not being taxed as much? Well, Brownback abdicates responsibility and says, “You’ve got some global issues that are going on that we have absolutely no control over.” David Brooks is a trickle-downer: One true minimum wage story is that corporations are reaping record profits while pushing down wages of the unskilled. But another true story, embodied in the vast trove of research, is that if you raise the minimum wage too high, you end up punishing less skilled workers. One study found the modest hike in the national minimum wage between 2006 and 2009 reduced employment among young people without a high school degree by almost 6 percent. I love how he cites a study on employment that occurs when the financial crisis happened. Notice how he didn’t bring that up. Also, I love how he hides behind the “vast trove of research” on the subject but then doesn’t examine that research at all. Brooks at his finest. The costs of financial isolation:  Turns out, people enjoy talking about infidelity more than personal finances. Tweet of the day: Happy New York Primary! Our voting system in this country sucks. Badly. 27 Percent of New York’s Registered Voters Won’t Be Able to Vote in the State’s Primary via @thenation https://t.co/dCNiLBiE2N — Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) April 19, 2016

Gig Economy Leader to Embrace $15 Minimum Wage with Union Partnership

Gig Economy Leader to Embrace $15 Minimum Wage with Union Partnership

1. Elizabeth Dwoskin at the The Washington Post reports that SEIU and Airbnb are in talks about forming a partnership: Under the terms being discussed, Airbnb, which has previously been at odds with unions, will endorse the union’s Fight for $15 and encourage vendors who provide services to homeowners on the Airbnb platform to pay their staff at least $15 per hour. The platform will also direct Airbnb hosts to cleaners that have been given a seal of approval from SEIU. The cleaners will be trained, certified and provide green home cleaning services to Airbnb hosts, according to documents reviewed by the Washington Post. A poster child for the gig economy embracing the $15 minimum wage is a huge deal, obviously; it puts more pressure on organizations like Uber to do right by their employees. Dwoskin reports that the partnership was Airbnb’s idea. 2. Speaking of unions, local SEIU president (and friend of Civic Ventures) David Rolf has a wonderful piece in the new issue of American Prospect discussing many possible futures for the labor movement including worker ownership, control of work-distribution platforms, and the Shared Security platform he masterminded with Civic Ventures founder Nick Hanauer. It’s required reading which lays out a problem (declining union membership) and offers some forward-thinking solutions. Go check it out .

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