Centrist Democrat

What is “centrist” or “moderate” about a Democrat who believes Americans should not be guaranteed a living wage for full-time work? Every news outlet I’ve seen refers to conservative Democrat Joe Manchin (Trump won his state by 40 points in 2020, so there’s that) as moderate or centrist. According to Mr. Manchin $440 a week is more than fair pay for an unskilled worker, and, as you’ll hear reported everywhere, it is the position of a moderate centrist.

“Times that $400 by 50 weeks (we’ll give her two weeks vacation, unpaid) and that’s a nice, let’s see… $22,000. NOT BAD for someone without a high school diploma! A nice raise from her current $14,500! I’d like that kind of 30% raise myself!! And, yes, I know you can look on google and find out the median American income last year was around $34,000, but that’s factoring in all those folks making $14,500, so you can kind of throw out those numbers.”

What could be more moderate than that? Particularly when the left wing of your party keeps pointing out that adjusted for the cost of living, the federal minimum wage, (which hasn’t been raised since 2009, when it was increased by 70 cents an hour [1]) should be raised to an outrageous $24 an hour. So, radicals want $24. The president wants $15. The GOP presumably wants to keep it at $7.25. So a moderate centrist proposes a compromise of $11. You see?

I can understand FOX news calling Manchin a “centrist” and a “moderate” or a “voice of reason” since he’s basically a Republican in most things — but the NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC? What the fuck? Call the thing what it is.

He’s from West Virginia, an impoverished state that voted for Trump by a 40% margin, even after his disastrous first term, a state that recently had a Ku Klux Klansman as one of its senators. He may be independent, he may be a maverick, he may be as politically shrewd as Mitch McConnell, it may be perfectly understandable that he is enjoying his sudden, outsized power and the way everybody is bowing down to him, but one thing he isn’t is a centrist or a moderate. Words fucking matter.

[1]

Check out this handy chart of the federal minimum wage (established under FDR in 1938) at the Department of Labor and see how it changed over the decades.

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