Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, on a conference call just now, offered an extensive interpretation of last night’s results in his state. In so doing, he made a strong case for the liberal vision, emphasizing the public’s instincts for fairness, the need to take active steps to fortify the middle class, and the imperative of battling against class warfare. Class warfare from the top down, that is.
Brown’s interpretation is worth dwelling on at some length, because it suggests a very clear path forward for Democrats heading into 2012.
Brown started out by making a historical point that invests the results with newfound significance: “This was the first time in our nation’s history there was a statewide vote on bargaining rights.”
Brown noted that yesterday’s results, when viewed in a historical context, reveal that the middle class didn’t grow organically — and that it doesn’t have organic staying power, either.
“If you pay attention to history, you know that collective bargaining is perhaps the single biggest reason we have a strong middle class in this country,” he said. “It has provided a path to the middle class for hundreds of thousands of workers.”
“The middle class doesn’t happen on its own — and it doesn’t unravel on its own, either,” he said. “Last night Ohio took a very big step towards rebuilding the middle class.”
Brown also argue that the public is wising up to the fact that the financial crisis and the actors who helped create it — and not public workers — are the ones to blame for our fiscal travails. In a reference to the economic meltdown of 2008, Brown said: “Budget deficits came from that, not from the salaries and the benefits that our public workers earned.”
Asked by a reporter what yesterday’s results portend for his own and Obama’s reelection next year. Brown said: “The public wants to know whose side you’re on. Are you on the side of the middle class, or not?”
“The conservative anti-union movement around the country will have some second thoughts about where they go in and how they go in,” he said. Brown himself embodies a kind of old fashioned, plain-spoken blue collar populism that reasserted itself last night — one that Obama and Dems are hoping will have a profound impact on the political atmosphere next year.
“It’s clear there has been class warfare from the top in this country,” Brown concluded. “The middle class pushed back last night.”
UPDATE: Also key: Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel, embraced Kasich’s law.