Day Three: Three Republicans and One Democrat walk into a Press Conference

I am at Day Three of my internship and the last day of my first week! Essentially, the hardest part is over as the most difficult point was actually walking into the building for the very first time. I have no idea if you’ve ever walked into a capitol building by yourself before but it is an extremely intimidating feeling; although, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything at the moment.

Settling in has become a bit of a feat but I’m finally at a point of confidence where I’m starting to understand what’s happening and being able to recognize certain officials and other press employees. It’s great to be able to be behind the scenes of politics.

Today, I stood in at a press conference on the last day of session before governor-elect R-Eric Greitons is sworn in for his four-year term, following previous governor D-Jay Nixon who has been in office for the past eight years (and is actually about to have a state park named after him which I’m sure will disgruntle plenty of republicans while I remain relatively indifferent).

Three republicans and a democrat were present for the senator press conference and spoke on a number of related issues with the press; however, the most controversial opinion would be regarding the right-to-work act. Republican senators Ron Richard and Mike Kehoe spoke with confidence that once the inauguration of Eric Greitons, that bill would be going straight through the legislature, bypassing a vote of the people, and it would be given top priority. If all goes in their favor, Missouri will become the 27th right-to-work state in the United States going along with Donald Trump’s vocal praise for the act.

Democratic senator, Gina Walsh, of course, had other opinions claiming the popular Democratic claim that right-to-work is terrible for employment and even threw out a statistic claiming that six out of ten states that have the highest unemployment rate in the country are right-to-work states.

Now, I love debunking statistics so I decided to challenge Mrs. Walsh’s claim.

According to my findings, utilizing the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, I discovered that of the top ten states for the highest unemployent rates, only three of them were right-to-work states and this is utilizing a statistic gathered in November of 2016. There’s very little possibility that the unemployment percentages could have changed that significantly in the past two months which means that Walsh, either knowingly or unknowingly, doubled the factual statistic to drive her point forward. She, in fact, mentioned this statistic twice in her speech which leads me to wonder where she got this information from as I didn’t hear her cite a source (which, honestly, she should have because now she will be held accountable for the claim as opposed to a faulty source).

Now, just out of curiosity, I countered Walsh’s statistic and researched how many states with the lowest unemployment rates are right-to-work states and I came up with 5 out of the ten highest. So…5/10 better-off states are right-to-work and 7/10 struggling states are not posing the suggestion that right-to-work is actually better for jobs, clashing with Walsh’s initial statement.

Here’s something interesting but not altogether surprising. Below is a map taken from the National Right to Work website showing current right-to-work states (left). Now, counteract that with a map of red and blue states from the 2016 presidential election taken from the business insider (right). With just a few exceptions, the majority of non-right-to-work states are liberal states and nearly all of the current right-to-works are conservative; therefore, this could raise the question: do rural-dominated states thrive more with the right-to-work act and, if so, do we classify Missouri as an urban or rural state given its tendency to switch from left to right and then back again?

13 of the 26 right-to-work states are in the top 50% for unemployment. The other 13 states are in the bottom 50% for unemployment which suggests that, in some cases, it really differs by state on whether or not the act is successful. However, with the current republican trifecta and a conservative-leaning federal government, we may be seeing right-to-work as the first official legislation bill passed in the 2017 session. Especially since president-elect Trump is pro right-to-work (which is no surprise given his corporate background), I see no reason why we wouldn’t be seeing more states follow that example as well.

Overall, already an interesting internship and I’m not even five days into it yet. I still attain to have little or no opinions of major controversies (and I don’t plan to develop them, to be honest) which makes it more interesting to observe republicans and democrats going back and forth on a consistent basis.

I’m thankfully one of those people that don’t believe pros on any issue outweigh the cons, or vice versa. Each opinion is there for a reasons and the majority of them are valid. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad I don’t hold an office position because I’m too independent and, from what I can see, there are no official independent senators. Frankly because their opinion just doesn’t really matter (sorry Gary Johnson. Although, I’m right there with you).

More tomorrow!

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