CBS Streaming Online News cut away from the stage right when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio took it, thus was I robbed of seeing him live on TV at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Thursday night.
So it goes in the age of hipster cable, where all of my electric television shows are streamed across the worldwide inter webs, and live news options are severely limited. But on Friday afternoon, I made time to watch Ohio’s senior senator give voice to my folk – Buckeye folk – in the 2016 Election.
His speech hit close to home, literally. Connie Schultz, the enormously talented, inimitable Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist to whom Brown is married, shares a hometown with yrs. truly in the form of Ashtabula, Ohio. In his speech, Brown mentioned that Connie grew up there and that her parents – an electrician and nurse’s aide – worked long, hard hours to provide their children with opportunity.
“They wore their bodies out working long days so their children could go to college,” Brown said. “For too many Americans today, that same hard work is not paying off. People work longer hours, they produce more. But while corporate profits have gone up, workers’ wages haven’t kept pace.”
Hallelujah, brother, preach! Both Schultz and Brown are tremendous advocates for the underdogs. At a time in American history where wealth and income inequality is greater than its ever been – the Second Gilded Age now surpassing the First – we need such advocates more than ever. This speaks to everything northeast Ohio is about to me.
On Lake Erie’s southern shore, folks have no truck with pompous affectation. The garish irony of watching the Republican Party nominate billionaire Donald Trump for president while an instrumental version of New York, New York blared in Quicken Loans Arena in the heart of downtown Cleveland earlier this month was sickening.
Brother Brown avenged the soul of the Cuyahoga in blistering, meme-worthy invective Thursday.
“Donald Trump believes ‘wages are too high’ – those are his words. Too high? And he wants to be president,” Brown asked. “The suit I’m wearing? Made by union workers 10 miles from my Cleveland home in Brooklyn, Ohio. Trump suits? Made in Mexico. Trump glassware? Made in Europe – not Toledo, America’s glass city. Trump furniture? Made in Turkey, not Archibold, Ohio.”
Oh snap! Brother Brown’s got him dazed on the ropes and is about to throw that bolo!
“Donald Trump’s hat may be stamped ‘Make America Great Again,’ but his ties are stamped, ‘Made in China.”
Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier!
“Now I’ve been fighting for a trade agenda for more than 20 years that puts American workers first. And I can tell you, in all those years, I’ve never seen Donald Trump. No, the only thing I’ve seen Donald Trump do when it comes to U.S. trade policy is run his mouth and line his pockets.”
And while Trump outsources jobs, Hillary Clinton has a real plan to bring jobs back to America, Brother Brown tells us. Ten million dollars in ‘Made in America’ tax credits to revitalize manufacturing, for instance.
It’s a difference of perception, he says. Donald Trump sees a “rust belt” of decay where Clinton, Brown, and frankly the rest of us from northeast Ohio see “vibrant and innovative communities throughout the industrial heartland.”
“Cleveland is pioneering the country’s first freshwater wind farm in Lake Erie. Youngstown is leading the way in advanced manufacturing,” Brown says. “And that power plan where Connie’s father worked in Ashtabula? It isn’t rusting. It’s been converted to a water processing plant, supporting hundreds and hundreds of Ohio jobs. That’s how we rebuild a thriving American middle class.”
The man knows that of which he speaks. This is a very simple concept, and key: The more people who earn a livable wage, the better everything is for everyone. If consumers have money to consume, they will consume. When consumers consume, businesses thrive; they can hire more workers and pay them more; more people have money; they consume more; they grow their communities; crime goes down; communities prosper, etc.
I write for a community newspaper in one of the types of communities to which Brown is referring – vibrant and innovative. I see what happens when communities believe and invest in themselves. And Brown’s right, we’re seeing more of it throughout the industrial heartland. Look at downtown Cleveland itself as a perfect illustration, or Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, or many other diverse and unique areas throughout the Buckeye State.
But what we don’t need in the White House is a know-nothing, megalomaniacal billionaire huckster. What we need, Brown astutely points out, is someone deeply knowledgeable on the tangible policy solutions that help these communities and better people’s lives.
Brown says, “Those are the kinds of solutions Hillary Clinton will deliver.”
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive’s RouteFifty.com, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.