Let me preface by saying I’ve been a DailyKos reader for years, but this is only my second post. I’m a Millennial New Englander transplant in LA, a progressive New Dealer very proud of my small town roots. I’ve seen firsthand the damage deindustrialization and Walmartization have had on the Northeast, and I’ve seen the effect our continuing troubles have had on blue collar Americans who pinned their hopes on President Obama. I volunteered in both elections, I converted skeptics, I posted links like a link-posting sonofabitch. And posters on DailyKos know what they’re talking about when they discuss the disillusionment and pained disappointment they register when people in their lives discuss the President’s economic performance. Back in 2010, I was with family watching the news of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and my uncle, a security guard at the state capital, said “You know what he needs to be doing. He should be sending thousands of people down there, like the Civilian Conservation Corps.” He was 100% right. But the way that he said it, you could already hear the exhaustion, the disappointment in his voice even then.
Everybody here knows we need another New Deal, badly. It’s not the President’s fault in full: the Neoliberal establishment have been hollowing out this country like termites in an old house for decades now, either completely unable to fathom the larger picture of the structural damage they were causing, or actively hoping for a collapse that would knock the fight out of American voters to the point where The Great Rollback can begin.
As I said, the DailyKos writers predicting a surge in antiestablishment resentment in 2016 have it right, barring any sudden economic miracles. Most progressives knew about the NSA’s snooping as far back as 2006, but the fact that the President has come out and defended the intrusive program is what has set off the latest powderkeg. That’s where the progressive anger is coming from. It was bad enough that no New Deal was forthcoming. It was the capstone in a whole series of reversed positions, and not merely of the broken-campaign-promises variety. It can best be explained in this way: we had the option to vote for an Establishment figure in the 2008 election, and the American people roundly rejected this option. It began with the 2007 primary. American progressives dragged the progressive alternative candidate successfully through the bloodiest primary battle in God knows how long, boldly rejecting the Establishment nominee. Progressives didn’t want the nominee with the economic team full of Rubinites, they wanted the nominee being advised by Robert Reich, and Paul Volcker, and Joseph Stiglitz. They wanted the nominee Richard Trumka poured his guts out defending in one of the greatest moments of oratory in the history of organized labor. The American people chose the anti-Establishment progressive insurgent, and they carried that candidate on their backs to an inspirational victory because they knew he was the only hope they had for the American dream built by the New Deal to be restored. They didn’t “project” this onto President Obama, as so many have intimated, including the President himself at one point. No. This was the platform upon which he built his entire campaign.
President Obama may have cast himself as a reasonable moderate willing to broker compromise, but all the same he has run on the New Deal TWICE now, and both times the American people supported him, because they believe in the New Deal, and want to keep building America. They don’t want to sell it off for scrap. But in 2009, the President dumped Robert Reich, and Joseph Stiglitz, and edged out Paul Volcker, and brought in the very same Rubinite economics team whose vision the American people had roundly rejected during the primaries. And with the promotion of Jason Furman, our President has doubled down on the big-money Establishment policies we rejected again in 2012. Realizing that they were opposed by a cartoonishly plutocratic candidate in Romney, 2012 was unmistakably a bold pro-New Deal campaign, and cannot be misrepresented as anything but. If only speechwriters had the power to make policy... But they don’t, and Jason Furman does, and so, needless to say, 2016 is going to be a clusterfuck. If Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton and Republicans nominate Rand Paul, expect pollsters to begin throwing themselves out of windows like it’s Black Tuesday. Young people could vote Republican in disenchanted droves should Clinton refuse to repudiate the Police State like her libertarian anti-war opponent. Neocons will vote Democrat, or perhaps move to Costa Rica as they so often threaten. And progressives will protest at the Democratic National Convention, get the shit kicked out of them by overenthusiastic riot cops, and as they fall they’ll pull down the pillars of the big tent down along with them.
It’s my belief that we’ve reached a crucial turning point in American history. Every generation of Americans, every generation from the Revolution, to the Civil War, up until this point, have fought the same battle over and over again, each time in different ways, but always over the same insidious issue that refuses to be resolved. That is the conflict between those who believe that there should be an American aristocracy, and those who believe that there should NOT be an American aristocracy. And right now, the aristocrats are winning, because they have achieved a virtual consensus within Washington. Hillary Clinton, she of the Walmart board of directors, is very much part of this consensus. She may believe in increased access to healthcare, and she may have carefully moved to support gay rights when the ground was made safe. But this has not prevented her from joining the Establishment of both parties in allowing Free Trade to scoop the guts out of this country. The first Clinton administration sold NAFTA to us on the premise that when manufacturing disappeared everybody in Detroit and Camden and Gary and Lowell and pretty much all of Appalachia were going to become microbiologists and computational physicists. And I think we can agree that a second Clinton administration will defend TPP on the same grounds, that somehow a few miniscule incremental improvements to the education system will in some magical way counteract a storm of economic destruction, as we lose all that remains.
And so it’s time that we had a Democrat in the White House who remembers what being a Democrat actually means. It’s time we had a progressive. It’s time we had a populist. It’s time we had the courage to pick someone not pre-vetted by Wall Street. And when I say “it’s time,” I don’t mean it in the typical sense as a rhetorical flourish. I mean it literally.
The American people are just about out of time. We have one last shot at this. Another two terms of the Establishment tearing down our country’s institutions, devastating our nation’s morale, and there may not be an America left, not one we recognize. This is our last chance for effective reform before it’s too late, so thank God we have Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Senator Brown knows Congress backwards and forwards. He knows where all the bodies are buried, he literally wrote the book on the House, and he’s been standing with the American worker from day one. With the White House and the entire Establishment rallied against him, he has determinedly led opposition to NAFTA, and then took point in resisting CAFTA in 2006. Lined up against bales of corporate cash and an army of lobbyists, he still singlehandedly whipped up so much opposition that CAFTA only passed by 1 vote in the House.
When it comes to economic policy, Brown will devastate all comers across the political spectrum. He’s about one thing and one thing only: American jobs. After decades of tirelessly fighting for American industry, nobody alive can out-jobs Sherrod Brown. He believes in the New Deal, and work programs. Tell people that you want to toss out the band-aid which is welfare in exchange for work programs that will actually contribute towards improving society, and you get the triangulation that Bill Clinton so desperately sought, without the cravenness of cuts. He believes in Fair Trade, a term which quite frankly has to go. Because at the core of Fair Trade policy is something a million times better, a million times more useful, something no lobbyist, no Fox News talking head, no Establishment politician, something nobody can attack:
It’s the American School Of Economics.
That’s right, motherfuckers. The American way of running an economy. It’s what the Founding Fathers built, and John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay. And most importantly Abraham Lincoln. It’s Paul Krugman wrapped in the stars and stripes, holding two fistfuls of lit sparklers. It’s three basic principles, that any canvasser can sell in 2016, and that when Brown pitches it, no opponent in any primary or general election will be able to withstand:
1. Focus finance around venture capitalism, rather than unstable speculation.
2. Build up your infrastructure (what Lincoln et al called ‘internal improvements’).
3. Protect your industry.
China is following these three rules to great effect and that’s why their economy has a rocket strapped to it, which will certainly be pointed out if Democrats bring the American School to the debate with a nominee like Sherrod Brown. And to protect American industry, we don’t need a tariff, a blunt instrument of past centuries. China has shown the way, when they embarrassed us with GM last year. The US is the largest market for goods on the planet, and if we made the same demands that China did, namely, that if any __ product-producing company wants to sell to the American market, they need to manufacture in America using American materials, not only would whoever advocated this policy win the election riding a tidal wave, but the USA would be saved.
It’s Fair Trade policy, and financial reform, and the New Deal, but at the same time it’s the very policy that the men who built this country advocated, and we have their writing on record to prove it (note, I recommend you all start buying your copies of The Great Challenge; I’m halfway through it right now!). It’s the policy of Abraham Lincoln Republicans. Imagine a conservative opponent trying throw ‘radical leftist’ at Sherrod Brown only for him to send that back at them in a debate. And best of all, we already know this policy is popular in the first place, even without the American School Of Economics argument. Because in America’s political meatgrinder, the state of Ohio, not only has one of America’s most fearless progressives been elected to the Senate twice, but he’s been in Congress since 1975!!! Fighting for American jobs, taking a bold and honest pro-worker “Made In America” position, is literally unbeatable.
And that’s what makes Sherrod Brown the ideal presidential candidate: he supports ideas that have been savaged by the Right and the corporatist New Democrats alike for decades, and yet he continues to win in Ohio.
Let me reiterate that: he’d be a nominee from OHIO.
It can’t be overstated the guts that this guy has when it comes to supporting progressive causes. Our first hipster nominee, he was for gay rights before it was cool. Back when Brown was a congressman in 1996, our very own Bartlet Bill Clinton wussed out and backed the Defense Of Marriage Act, afraid of the political consequences should he not support the bill. President Clinton signed DOMA into law less than two months before election day in 1996. But Brown voted against it, as a representative of Ohio. The same Ohio that eight years later saw to Bush’s reelection, the Ohio that in 2004 had conservative voters hitting the polls in droves almost entirely based upon gay marriage scaremongering. But Brown never flinched, and never ran away from his record, and always defended his position on gay rights, and he was reelected to the House regardless in 1996, and again four more times after that, before getting voted into the Senate.
He’s a master of retail politics, and he busts his ass reaching out to everyday Americans in a way that few establishment Rubinite Democrats are familiar. It’s no act. He’s going to be huge with blue-collar voters, especially the blue-collar men we’ve been hemorrhaging for decades. He’s Jim McGovern in Stephen Lynch packaging. He’s a staunch progressive who’s made courageous stands for unpopular liberal causes his whole life, all the while remaining a grounded everyman. In an era where Democrats are derided as slick operators, aloof academics, or WASPy self-absorbed elites, he’s an old-school populist who bleeds salt of the earth, and whose everyman optics are so ironclad that he doesn’t have to run away from Fair Trade, or gay rights, or local agriculture, or environmentalism, or accusations of being soft on defense. He sounds like Michael Fucking Wincott. White Catholic fence sitters are gonna love this guy, and unlike Bill Clinton it won’t have anything to do with any calculated “Sister Souljah” posturing. He’ll take our 2008/2012 big tent and make it even bigger, for something much better than a majority: a sweep.
And a sweep is what we really need if we’re going to get anything done in Washington. President Obama has had two strong victories, which any sane person would recognize as a mandate. But in an era of intense obstruction, we need something more. We need to yank Tea Partiers out of their House and Senate seats kicking and screaming, by the busload. The only chance we have to pull our nation out of this slow-motion train wreck is through another New Deal, and the only way we can get another New Deal is through the efforts of a cooperative Congress that can’t be held back by a substantial minority opposition. Ladies and gentlemen, we need a presidential candidate who can direct a populist wave, and down-to-earth Mr. Brown of Ohio, running on an old-fashioned campaign of JOBS-JOBS-JOBS, pushing the DNC to support a partywide platform of New Deal “work not welfare” work programs, Wall Street reform, and the American School Of Economics hearkening back to our industrial glory days, could carry a whole new generation of populist Fair Trade congressional candidates along with him. “Made In America” candidates. Progressive legislators from West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, upstate New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and, of course OHIO.
I really ought to mention again that HE’S FROM OHIO.
His amazing wife Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist known for supporting the underdogs, and she’d undoubtedly make an excellent ally in the push to reform the American news media and break up media conglomerates. She’s a great writer, and would make an unrepentantly progressive, boldly activist addition to the White House, in the tradition of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Brown’s been a career politician since 1975 without any scandals or screw-ups. He knows his shit. He’s good people. This is the only kind of press attention he attracts. If he's this loathsome to the corporate class, then surely if there was any dirt they would have figured out a way to tar him and toss him out of office years ago for his troublemaking.
And he scares the shit out of the 1% in a way they haven’t been scared since FDR.
Look, I know Hillary Clinton is the easy button. But that’s because she’s, to crib from Lawrence Kasdan, “the quick and easy path.” The Establishment will make no move to curtail the Great Unraveling, as we all know deep down. We tried to avoid the Rubinites last time with a progressive who ran on the New Deal, but he turned out to be an Establishment figure as well. The question becomes, how do you find a true populist in an era of pervasive, no-paper-trail campaign cash? Credentials and job history are what matter now. I’d support Elizabeth Warren in a heartbeat, as she has the credentials, but she is too new to the Senate to springboard to a presidential run, much as I wish she could. I believe that, sadly, a public willing to forgive a male politician for relative inexperience are not yet ready to do the same for a woman. Sherrod Brown is our last chance to save the New Deal, and through the New Deal to save our country.
3:39 PM PT: UPDATE:
I'm tired of people complaining that Sherrod Brown doesn't have the voice for a presidential run. It's a tired meme that's totally untrue. If you don't believe me, watch this video:
Look at these two black holes of charisma, then Sherrod Brown come out and blow the fucking doors off. He's not just fast on his feet, and he's not just personable and engaging when speaking in public, but he's got a gravely voice like a badass blue-collar guy. He sounds like a truck driver, but he's got the brain of a Yale grad. That's the best of both worlds, and that's just what you want in a populist politician.