What Exactly is Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Suggesting Here?
Murphy aide: "if we can raise taxes on the rich, or increase the minimum wage, or expand child care through alliances with more socially conservative constituencies, should we do it?"
Hey, all. Let’s jump right into it today.
First, my writing from this week, plus I’m on (yet another) social media platform, it seems:
If you’re a writer, journalist, actor, vlogger, director, or anyone else whose career is in some way tied to social media, you should start a mailing list. In Monday’s edition of the newsletter, I explained why.
On Thursday, I wrote about Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s ethical rake-stepping when it came to an unflattering article published by GQ magazine, what it means for GQ’s reputation, and why it matters that the “separation of church and state” that is the barrier between editorial decisions and business operations continues to weaken.
And then Meta (Facebook/Instagram/Mark Zuckerberg’s data-collecting organization) launched Threads, a new app. As I do with most new social media apps, I signed up to claim my user name. I’m not sure how much or little I’ll be using it, but if you want to follow me on that, you can do so here:
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Here’s where I usually tackle a number of other stories that happened throughout the week, but today I’m just going to focus on one.
Yesterday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) posted a vague tweet that raised more than a few eyebrows…
“There are a lot of social conservatives who believe in populist economic policies,” he wrote in a poll post. “And it would be a good idea to have those people a part of a Democratic/left coalition and accept a bit more intra-movement friction on culture issues as a consequence.”
Now, when I see something like this, my immediate thought is, “Oh no, he’s planning to throw trans people under the bus.” I have good reason to think this because there’s a long history of doing exactly that. “Intra-movement friction on culture issues” could be read as a push to make the Democratic party less unified on issues of LGBTQ rights (specifically trans rights — something that the U.K.’s Labour party is currently doing).
One reason that’s such a scary prospect to me, a real-life transgender person, is that Democrats already don’t put anywhere near the amount of energy into defending LGBTQ people’s rights as Republicans put into tearing them down (due in large part to the absolutely absurd amount of energy Republicans invest into this genocidal project of theirs). To suggest we should welcome more “intra-movement friction on culture issues” in pursuit of economic policies is tantamount to telling trans people to drop dead.
I reached out to Murphy’s office for comment in hopes someone could clarify exactly what the senator meant in his tweet. Here’s what a Murphy aide responded with:
Chris is, of course, a strong progressive who believes in full reproductive rights and complete LGBTQ equality. He's just asking a question he thinks is important for the progressive movement to consider: if we can raise taxes on the rich, or increase the minimum wage, or expand child care through alliances with more socially conservative constituencies, should we do it? Chris's belief is that we should never waver in the fight for full equality and health care justice, but that doesn't mean we can't find alliances on other issues with people who aren't aligned with us on cultural or social issues.
This… did not actually answer my question. Murphy partners with “social conservatives” on “other issues” all the time. In May, he teamed up with “socially conservative” Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), for a bill called the College Transparency Act. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is saying, “How dare you introduce legislation that the right also agrees with!” And last year, he teamed up with Romney, Cornyn, and Tillis, along with “socially conservative” Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on a gun safety/mental health bill.
So, as much as Murphy and his office seem intent on presenting a fallacious Motte1 and Bailey2 argument here, a false choice between not working with Republicans on any issues or being more open to implementing anti-trans/anti-gay/anti-abortion policies, it just doesn’t make sense.
If he’s talking about trying to win over “socially conservative” voters, does he mean that Democrats should dial back their support for basic human rights in hopes of chasing the “economically anxious” voter (Democrats did this in 2016 and lost in a truly embarrassing fashion — one of few Democrats to see success that year was Roy Cooper, who ran a campaign centered around repealing an anti-trans law.)
I doubt that Murphy is referring to abortion in his very vague question, as abortion was the issue that helped Democrats overperform during the midterms. And I doubt that Murphy, the man who represented Newtown, CT, at the time of the Sandy Hook massacre and has made gun control a core tenet of his political career, is referring to softening his position on gun control. That leaves immigration and trans issues as the two big ones.
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