By Daniel Crawford
The following represents the opinion of Progressive member Daniel Crawford alone and does not represent the view of the larger Licking County Progressives.
The time has come for a change in leadership across the board. In Licking County the Democratic Party Chair has already announced her intention to resign, which is the most appropriate thing for every party chair who failed to deliver a victory against the Republicans over the past two election cycles. Yet, we presently hear nothing from the Ohio Democratic Party pertinent to Chairman David Pepper’s future. Pepper not only presided over the loss of Cordray’s Gubernatorial Campaign this year and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Ohio two years ago, but the only partisan statewide campaign to succeed under his watch was that of Senator Sherrod Brown. If we don’t want Ohio to become a de facto “red state” in perpetuity then it is imperative that new leadership is swept in wherever said leadership failed to stop the Republicans.
What we need to do is have a serious and deeply introspective conversation about the status of the party, how we got to this pathetic state of affairs, and what we need to do in order to actually win elections. From the Progressive perspective the answers to all of our questions are quite clear: we lost the working class and we MUST reconnect with them again. The next leaders of the Democratic Party at every level absolutely must recognize the origins of the party’s failures to convince the working class that voting for the “blue team” is in their best interest. Here in Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown represents a path forward.
No, Senator Brown is not perfect, but he has an established reputation of fighting on behalf of the working class on key issues, with special emphasis on trade and outsourcing. He won despite having a far more progressive voting record than most of his Senate colleagues, despite his outspoken recent opposition to the highly controversial and conservative-galvanizing nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and despite the fact that he had to run in a state which handed Trump its electoral votes by the biggest margin of any presidential candidate in decades. If Democrats want to win in Ohio (and places like Ohio) again, then a renewed focus on the checkbook issues that working people care about is essential. Moreover, the party leadership ought to more fully coordinate with organized labor to both craft better policy proposals and messages as well as to help strengthen the presence and clout of unions (there will be more on this in the weeks and months to come).
Furthermore, in connecting with the working class more directly, we should do as much to educate them about the origins of their conditions as we do to help address the challenges presented thereby. Helping to encourage and support organizing in the workplace is a crucially active part of addressing the condition, but we must connect the dots for a citizenry who’ve forgotten or been kept blind to why they suffer at all. In this respect, the party – in connection with labor – ought to help create and circulate a network of labor newspapers in print and online to counter the anti-worker narrative propagated by corporate America. Supported, promoted, and complemented with regular, smaller informative literature – such as leaflets, postcards, posters, electronic ads, etc. -, we ought to point out that there is, in fact, a class war raging on and that the Republican Party has long spearheaded the assault on the working class and democracy on behalf of the wealthy.
Another key set of changes which is long overdue is that the party must come together and soundly reject corporate PAC money and reject any temptation to interfere in primary campaigns. New ideas and voices are vital to the future of any organization and attempting to silence dissenting views serves to hinder further growth; especially when said dissent emanates from the supposed base of the Democratic Party. By reaching out to and embracing those whose critique make us reflect on our failures, we improve our condition and perfect our approach. The path to victory for progressivism is in front of us, but we have to recognize the steps that must be taken in order to seize said path.
Let this election as well as 2016 be teachable moments lest we revisit this nightmare in 2020 and beyond.