New Yorker: Sherrod Brown Wants to Bring a Working-Class Ethos Back to the Democratic Party
“Sherrod’s a very, very committed person for standing up for—I’m not sure what to call it—the non–rich and powerful,” Leo Gerard, the international president of the United Steelworkers and an ally of Brown’s, told me. “I’m not quite sure we’re still the middle class.”
Now those commitments recommend him. In his campaign this summer for a third term in the Senate, Brown spoke relentlessly of the “dignity of work,” a phrase he had drawn from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope Francis. This was always his message to voters in Ohio, but, as the Midwest has slipped away from the Democrats, a liberal who can win there has become precious to the Party. In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost Ohio by eight points, and, as her support collapsed across the Midwest, she lost the Presidency. Last month, Brown won Ohio by over six points, running fifteen points ahead of Clinton’s statewide numbers and twenty-one points ahead in the Appalachian counties. The press, the Party, its donors, the amateur strategists toying with electoral maps in their browsers—everyone discovered Sherrod Brown as a Presidential candidate at once. The tactical logic is bracing, undeniable: if the Democrats can win Ohio, they can almost surely win the more liberal states in the Rust Belt—Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And if they take those, they will win back the White House.