(originally published at http://politicalmoll.com/disconnect-politicians/)
With the midterm elections just around the corner and pundits already discussing the presidential election, political gaffes are bound to ensue. One thing that is becoming depressingly clear is that our politicians and the candidates running are completely disconnected from the general public. Recent statements made by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst expressed views that are completely detached from the realities many Americans are facing.
Ernst’s recent comments on the minimum wage of $7.25 being a “good starter wage for high school students,” ignores the obvious fact that more than 88% of minimum wage workers are adults. A week after her statements on the minimum wage, recorded audio of Mitch McConnell speaking in a closed meeting with billionaires surfaced with McConnell telling the audience that, with a Republican controlled Senate, he won’t waste time with the minimum wage.
The EPI (Economic Policy Institute) published a report that increasing minimum wages would lift the wages for millions and boost the economy. And as many organizations and studies have reported, if the minimum wage kept up with productivity the real minimum wage would be almost $22 an hour.
The thing to take note of here with the comments made by Ernst and McConnell on minimum wage, is they think the market should determine its own wage and not have the restraints of the government with a minimum wage. But the minimum wage is only the minimum an employer can pay, each state and business in the state are capable of raising the wage. Yet, the market and states have shown in the last several decades they aren’t willing to raise wages consistent with productivity, showing that the federal government needs to step in to make sure people are paid a livable wage.
Ernst’s politics are in line with a continued flawed and misconstrued belief of what a majority of Americans want. She thinks the Iraq should not have ended (even though the government wanted us out and Bush was the one who signed the agreement to leave Iraq), social security should be privatized, even though a majority of people are against that and many economists continue to say that a slight raise of the payroll tax on the wealthy would offset any issues of future payments (the program has a continued surplus). She wants to add an amendment against gay marriage, although the public’s view has changed drastically in the last few years and more and more states are beginning to support gay marriage.
McConnell has been at the forefront of banning the minimum wage increase to $10.10, even though a majority of economists and the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) say it would lift people out of poverty and boost the economy with people having more money to spend. McConnell wants to dismantle the ACA, even though he doesn’t provide another option or want to compromise across party lines. He wants to go after the EPA, even though the EPA is already underfunded to where they struggle to keep up to date with the regulations now. And he wants to strip any regulations that were put upon Wall Street after its collapse in 2007.
Both these senators have plans for the years ahead, putting their money on their party with the upcoming election. Most of their policies and political beliefs are against what most Americans want. So, why are they so popular and have the potential of getting re-elected? What does it say when our current politicians are so backwards in what the public and experts say is needed to improve our country?
This is an important question and it goes to both parties. Hillary Clinton, who is the contender for the democratic nomination in 2016 is no different. In a recent interview with the Atlantic she defended the strikes against Gaza, even though more and more Americans are against the strikes. She bashed Obama for not going forward with airstrikes in Syria, even though most Americans didn’t want to get involved in another foreign conflict. And she has close ties with the same bankers that were responsible for the economic collapse.
It’s both parties that are running in favor of the wealthy instead of the majority. And although Republicans, complain about government spending yet vote to sue the president, are wasting taxpayer money by spending $500 an hour for the lawyer and billing it to the taxpayer. Their words and chants of wanting to help the economy and the country are empty and neither party is pressing in the direction that most people want it to. We grow apathetic with each failed promise from our politicians and when certain candidates do finally speak out on what we want, the media gives them little attention.
Although this can make the common citizen more indifferent to voting since they believe it’s useless, I would argue against that mindset. I would say, it’s exactly because of candidates like these that we need to vote. One of the few options we do have is to vote. We should take full advantage by researching the candidates and voting for the ones who want to move us forward. After the election, we need to push the people in office to adhere to our voices and when they don’t, come next election season, kick them out. Although many argue (and I agree) that we’re living in a plutocracy, we still have the access to the vote. We just need to use that right more wisely.