Monday, December 30, 2013

The Ben Franklin Strategy

Shortly after the Constitutional Congress finished work on the document creating the United States that we know and enjoy, Benjamin Franklin wrote about its potential fatal flaw:  

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."  

According to a New York Times article over the weekend, Democrats--who are unable to run on the success or popularity of the Affordable Care Act, job creation, economic recovery or a general good feeling about the country--are going to employ what we can call the Ben Franklin Strategy.

The Times has learned that the Obama Administration, Democratic Party leaders and union officials have been meeting in recent months to formulate a campaign message for the 2014 mid-term elections that will focus almost exclusively on raising the minimum wage.  It's a fairly keen strategy--an increase is favored by a majority of Americans--although most do not support taking it to the $10.10 level that Democrats have been floating in Washington.  In battleground states, efforts will also be undertaken to put local minimum wage increases on the ballots for November.

And it's a strategy that has proven to work. In 2006, Democrats won Senate seats in Missouri and Montana when minimum wage referenda were on the ballot as well--boosting what is usually poor turnout from young voters and minorities in mid-term elections--because who wants to miss out on a chance to vote themselves more money?

Republicans could usurp this strategy by voting in more modest minimum wage increases before November--but it's doubtful they would want to go as high as the pie-in-the-sky rates that Democrats are promising.  The $10.10 figure was probably crafted using census data showing that is the rate at which enough potential Democratic voters would get a raise to increase the chances of winning close Congressional races this year.  If the numbers had shown the minimum wage needed to go to $35,000 a year to boost election turnout enough to win, that would be the number everyone on the Left would be clamoring for.

So, this November we will find out if this great 237-year "experiment in democracy" can weather the greatest threat it's founders foresaw for it's success.

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