Republicans have staked out endless signature issues: shutting down the government, vilifying immigrants, denouncing rights like paid sick leave and equal pay because they are "women's issues," privatizing education, and--wait for it--obliterating the rights of working people to negotiate together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their families.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll recently asked, "Which concerns you more: the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country, or middle and working class Americans not being able to get ahead financially?" If you understand how the economy works, that isn't just the wrong question. It's probably a meaningless one.
The fight for the $15 minimum wage needs to be seen as part of a larger struggle. The results of a successful fight for a higher minimum wage will be positive for a limited time. Fighting for a higher wage in the United States must be accompanied by fighting for better working conditions and wages globally.
As most of us prepare to feast on a cornucopia of lovingly prepared foods, I am acutely aware that the basic necessity of a living wage eludes millions here in America and billions more around the world. For those mired in wretched poverty, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday where they try to eek out just enough to survive.
Our politicians and our policies have ill-served most of the working families in this country for way too long now, and it is time to turn that around. The battle over whether the working class will be included in the American idea invented by Jefferson and those others in Philadelphia 238 years ago this week still rages on.