A Winning Strategy for Working Families
by Justine Sarver
Voter frustration has reached a tipping point in 2016. Polls continue to show that voters are concerned about the economy and the direction this country is going. The message is clear: Americans think our system is rigged, and economic inequality is a reality for too many people.
This matters, not just because we want to live in a society that creates opportunity, but also because our system cannot work if we do not keep people engaged.
The link between people’s income levels and the level of peoples’ political participation was once thought inconsequential, but recent studies suggest that our common sense ideas about low earners having a harder time voting are true. If we can organize and communicate in an impactful way that connects people to the issues that affect them every day, we may be able to shift culture, shift the economic paradigm, and bolster our democracy.
Minimum wage measures have been on an upward trend for a quite a while now. When minimum wage measures are put on the ballot voters usually pass them, and with a potential six minimum wage measures on state ballots in 2016, there will be ample opportunity to start creating an economy that works for all Americans.
That’s why BISC, together with partners at the national and state levels, is harnessing the commitment and energy on increasing the minimum wage and passing earned sick leave to pass even more policies that support an economy that works for everyone. BISC is supporting the minimum wage increases across the country by providing strategic assistance to these efforts and helping with research and other foundational aspects of successful ballot measure campaigns. We are working directly with states, convening leaders from across the country to share best practices, develop strategy and lay plans for 2018 and 2020.
Over the last decade, we’ve learned the importance of continuing a conversation with voters about economic inequality (and what happens when we don’t). We are focused on turning the minimum wage victories of this decade into a more comprehensive, long-term campaign to strengthen the economy for all Americans. To put a finer point on it: these campaigns are only the beginning. We must build upon our efforts in 2016 and continue to address economic inequality and create a winning strategy for working families. Issues like providing earned sick leave, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring equal pay to all employees resonate with voters because they have a direct and immediate impact, improving many people’s lives.
Justine Sarver is the Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.