Last week I mentioned it would be interesting to see if SEIU Florida keeps its pledge to exclusively endorse and make contributions to candidates who agree to both take the Minimum Wage Challenge in the Fight For $15 campaign, and support $15 an hour minimum wage bills. At issue was the case of Darren Soto running in Congressional District 9. Soto didn’t bother to take the Minimum Wage Challenge, but has co-sponsored the higher wage bill in the Florida Senate.
A few days later at the Democratic Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton announced that she doesn’t support a $15 minimum wage. Instead she’s fighting for $12 an hour — and, today we learned that despite this, the SEIU will be endorsing Clinton for president.
Folks have been supporting the SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign for a couple of years now by striking and losing their jobs; protesting at ungodly hours in all kinds of weather; and basically doing anything the union tells them to. Now the union pays them back by endorsing a candidate who doesn’t even support their cause. This is an enormous slap in the face to all the people who have been working so hard in this fight to achieve a living wage.
It should not be a radical idea that if you work full time, you should be able to support yourself and a child. You can see from the chart below that a living wage for a family in Florida is far more $15 an hour. Families not making enough are going into debt, or finding other ways to cope. Use your imagination here.
This betrayal is exactly what a Clinton Administration will feel like for the duration. It will be one laissez-faire, neoliberal sell-out after another on the part of leadership and allies.
It’s how Clintonian Triangulation works: take all the issues “off the table,” so the base is left with nothing. We lived through it in the 90s, and believe me, it was worse than simply not making headway on our issues.
The Clinton Administration gave away serious issues to special interests, resulting in NAFTA which shipped our middle class manufacturing jobs overseas. Then, there were deals that ended critical Wall Street regulation, which resulted in the crash in 2008. Let’s not forget the deregulation of telecommunications that effectively killed radio, and is also why we pay so damn much for the crappiest internet in the world. And, don’t even get me started on “ending Welfare as we know it.”
I remember being so angry at my friends back in Tennessee when they let me know they couldn’t vote for Al Gore in 2000. I felt like a Gore Administration would have been very different than the Clinton Administration, and certainly different than the Bush mess. Plus, I had an irrational political crush on Al Gore. I still can’t explain it.
With a few years behind me, I completely understand their anger, and it’s easy to see how Gore couldn’t carry his home state. It wasn’t the baggage of a the Clinton affairs that depressed voters, like many claimed at the time. It was the baggage of the Clinton way of doing business.
I’m afraid that a Clinton Administration would be the worst thing to happen for working families and progressive policy, since…the last Clinton Administration. This SEIU endorsement is a clear indication of how allies will happily occupy their new veal pens. Of course, I hope that Hillary Clinton won’t govern the way Bill did, pandering to special interests and selling out the base. But, there’s nothing standing in her way. Not the almighty unions. That’s for sure.
Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher, as well as an award-winning advertising creative with more than 20 years’ experience crafting strategy for clients ranging from healthcare companies to museums. She’s the Senior Political Correspondent for Progressive News Network (tune this Sunday at 7:30 pm or download the podcast anytime), and the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. All opinions offered here are her own, delivered from the perspective of social theory, cultural criticism, and near constant stream of caffeine. Political and media analysis through a Progressive lens. Read all of Brook’s articles here. Check out brookhines.com.
These are her Italian Greyhounds, Trouble and Daphne.