Yahoo News: Democrats used to campaign on class — and win. It's time to do it again.
RFK never got that chance. But from time to time his vision of an anti-establishment, have-not coalition — a coalition of working-class whites and working-class minorities united around a progressive, populist agenda — resurfaces in Democratic op-eds, policy papers and even campaign speeches.
If anyone embodies that vision today, it’s probably Ohio’s senior senator, Sherrod Brown.
As a recent BuzzFeed profile put it, Brown, 64, has “combined a fierce populism and unapologetic progressive ideals to repeatedly win local and state elections — even as Ohio has trended increasingly conservative.” He’s won in cities and rural communities; old manufacturing hubs and college towns; diverse districts and mostly-white districts.
First elected to Congress in 1992, Brown secured reelection two years later by picking off Republican-leaning workers who’d previously backed Ross Perot’s anti-NAFTA presidential bid. In 2012, running for a second Senate term, he earned 95 percent of the black vote and outperformed his GOP rival, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, in many white, industrial parts of the state — including Mahoning and Trumbull counties, where Brown took 66 percent and 62 percent of the vote respectively.
Brown didn’t accomplish this by moderating his staunchly liberal views on social and cultural issues. He was one of only two members of Ohio’s congressional delegation to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996; he’s pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-gun-control, and pro-criminal-justice-reform. (He was the first senator to oppose Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general.)