U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D. OH) is one of my favorite Senators. He’s a progressive champion who knows how to mobilize voters and build coalitions without having to compromise his beliefs. His suits and car are made in Ohio and he’s the only U.S. Senator who does not accept the government’s insurance plan for members of congress and instead is covered by the Affordable Care Act. He’s always been a top target of GOP Super PACs and right-wing billionaires but even as his home state of Ohio has trended red, the GOP has failed time and time again to defeat him. Brown is also a modern day historian on progressive politics in the U.S. Senate. His book, Desk 88, is a terrific read and my friend, Leon Nixon, had the opportunity to co-narrate the audio book version. On the topic of suggested reading, Brown was recently interviewed by Rolling Stone and I strongly recommend you give it a read because Brown offers Joe Biden and the Democratic Party some solid advice on how to prepare to get ready to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election:
Brown has a message for his fellow Democrats, too. If they want to win back not only the working-class voters they lost in 2016 but also mobilize the multiracial coalition they need to beat Trump, they’ll need to rethink the American electorate altogether. It’s a message that Brown will soon be sharing on behalf of former Vice President Joe Biden; this week, Brown voted (early) for Biden in Ohio’s primary and plans to help Biden’s campaign later this year. “Voters don’t see politics as left or right,” he says. “This whole idea that independent voters are in the middle — that they’re less liberal than Democrats and less conservative than Republicans — is crap. People don’t see themselves as conservative/liberal; people see themselves. And people see politicians as ‘Whose side are you on?’ ”
Here’s the key part of the interview:
Is there a misconception of what the working and middle classes look like? After the 2016 election there was a lot of hand-wringing about how Democrats failed to appeal to the white working class in the Midwest.
Generally, when people say “workers,” maybe they’re thinking construction; they’re thinking maybe more of men than women. They’re thinking not necessarily more white than people of color; I don’t know if that’s the case or not. But we’ve got to always speak expansively.
My wife’s mother was a home-care worker. She died at 62. Her dad died at 69. Connie has said that they wore out their bodies so we didn’t have to wear out ours.
I was at my high school reunion, I think my 40th. They had an easel with the pictures of kids who we know have died of the 400 in the class. And it was a pretty consequential number, and they were mostly low-income white and black kids. The other thing I remember: I sat across from a woman in my class. She worked at JP Morgan Chase as a bank teller for 30 years. She was making $30,000 a year. We ought to be thinking about them as workers.
It’s a broad group of people that do most of the work in the day. It’s the people that you’re allowed to ignore. It’s the food-service -worker; it’s the custodian in this building [the Hart Senate Office Building]. This building is way too white during the day, and it’s a whole lot of Latina and mostly women, not entirely, and black people that come in and clean up. There’s too much of that in society.
I couldn’t agree more with this argument. To his credit, Biden has been focusing heavily on uniting the party to get ready to take on Trump:
Joseph R. Biden Jr. took some of his first steps to bring together the Democratic Party now that he is its presumptive presidential nominee, announcing proposals on Thursday to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 and to expand student debt forgiveness programs for low-income and middle-class families.
The proposals are part of an explicit effort to appeal to the progressive wing of the party led by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday.
“Senator Sanders and his supporters can take pride in their work in laying the groundwork for these ideas,” Mr. Biden, the former vice president, said in a statement announcing the package.
Top Sanders aides had been intensifying talks with the Biden campaign in recent days to find common ground on policies. The Biden team’s willingness to move in Mr. Sanders’s direction was a key factor in the senator’s decision to exit the race.