Ohio’s Primary Importance

Ohio’s Primary Importance

Ohio’s Primary Importance

Ohioans are used to hearing that we’re a “swing state,” and how pivotal a role we play in national elections. With eighteen electoral votes, we’re often in a make or break position – just ask Karl Rove. But Ohio plays a major role in the democratic primary as well. With 97 district delegates, we have a lot to say about who gains the democratic nomination.

When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders square-off in the Ohio primary (March 2016) we’ll have front row seats in a contest between the party’s progressives and a democratic establishment that looks more and more republican as the days pass. It will be an interesting time to be an Ohioan.

In most ways the Ohio battleground can be summed up in two words: Wall Street. Two major issues rise to the top immediately: Jobs lost to destructive U.S. trade deals, and the banks.

Ohio is still a labor state. Losses from bad trade deals, income reductions and the loss of homes are big deals here. Even with 315,000 manufacturing jobs lost (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) and all the factory closings since NAFTA, Ohio remembers not just the dignity of work, but its prosperity. We remember supporting our families and paying our bills. In March 2011 Ohio ended Governor Kasich’s hope of crushing labor by defeating Senate Bill 5, the republican gambit to end collective bargaining in the state. We did what Wisconsin couldn’t. Candidates for President should probably remember that.

The Transpacific Partnership Agreement – a 12 nation Asian “Free Trade” agreement called NAFTA on steroids is a very big issue in Ohio. Seeing the losses of our bad trade deals in the past, every one of Ohio’s democratic federal representatives is set firmly against it.

Senator Sherrod Brown showed great leadership in opposing TPP and the President’s ultimately successful effort to gain “Fast Tracking” authority to speed passage. All of the state’s democratic representatives (Beatty, Kaptur, Fudge and Ryan) signed protest letters to the President in past years, voted against Fast Tracking and all oppose TPP. In his bid to unseat Rob Portman, former Governor Ted Strickland has come out firmly against TPP and any such trade deals. With the state’s whole federal delegation lined up against Wall Street and the trade deal, Hillary will have an Ohio problem.

The President is in a race. He’s got to get TPP passed before Hillary truly gets into primary season next February.  Hillary’s ties to Wall Street and the banks and their money, put her on the wrong side of the trade debate and if TPP is on the table when her campaign is in full swing – she’s toast in places like Ohio. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s pledge to withhold support from any candidate backing TPP will have a big impact Ohio primary.

Hillary Clinton has tried to protect her “inevitability,” with silence. She won’t take a position on TPP, just as she won’t take a position against the XL pipeline or the banks. That won’t work here.

The carefully managed Hillary holds kitchen table meetings with a dozen chosen voters and keeps reporters contained within rope corrals in order to avoid questions. Granted, she’s got a few issues to hide from. It’s not just what she did or didn’t do as Secretary of State and Benghazi, the email debacle and the subpoenas. Through it all, she wears a frozen smile mask no matter what challenge comes. The silence plants the seeds of doubt and waters them as her “trust numbers” crash.

She might run from reporters, but she can’t run from the trade and political policies she helped put in place. Obama’s “Asian pivot,” didn’t happen without his Secretary of State. Obama lost the support of Middle America when he failed to make an “American Pivot.” Hillary is telling the country she will do the same. That won’t work here either.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t have an Ohio problem. If anything his growing ranks of supporters are taking root here and time and again, he’s proven to be a man who seeks questions because he’s there to give answers. He is leading the drive for an American investment in Americans, supports the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall to take apart the banks and will kill off TPP and other agreements. From jobs to taxes; race and education; climate change and infrastructure, Bernie Sanders lays out his plans – often in incredible detail. He’s not only saying what. He’s saying how and Americans are listening.

For the most part, the media has ignored Sanders. They are owned by the corporations that are pressing for global control via TPP and other so-called “Free Trade” agreements. When he does get coverage the media is amazed at the size of the crowds he draws, followed statements that he can’t win – as if it were fact. It isn’t. There was speculation that he might do well in Iowa (famously progressive on the democrat side) or New Hampshire since it’s next to Vermont; but the tens of thousands who came to hear him were in Colorado, Wisconsin and Arizona. We’re about to find out how many will come and then vote in Ohio.

Bernie Sanders is drawing interest and support from the left, the center and even some from the right (they don’t all have rabies). There is no radical agenda. Sanders is speaking directly to a huge range of key American issues while no one else is. Hillary has had to adopt some of his themes (along with Elizabeth Warren’s), and there are even republicans who’ve started to sound like him, but there is no substance. A few weeks ago, Senator Claire McCaskill got on TV to paint Sanders as a wild-eyed radical – a socialist! Of course, Bernie’s supporters have a label for McCaskill: republican…

It’s time to stop asking if Bernie Sanders can win in a state like Ohio. A better question might be: If she stays silent on TPP, Wall Street and the banks, can the Hillary campaign make it out of Ohio?

There is no “managed” Bernie Sanders, no mask and the smile is his. He’s running on a four-decade long record ideas, actions and successes against the odds. Bernie Sanders steps to the podium and invites us to join in his forty year long conversation with America.

Michael Calabrese

Michael Calabrese – has been writing throughout his professional life. As a business writer, Michael’s proposals for government contracts (RFP’s) have garnered over $46 million in federal awards from the Department of Defense, Justice, the EPA and the SEC.  As a grant writer for a non-profit, his proposals have won $2 million in awards to feed hungry school children in need and fund social services for the poor and disabled.

From 1999 through 2008, Michael was Manager for Information Services for contractor for Labat-Anderson, providing client services to 56 offices of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  He was the management lead for the Agency’s provision of 15 years of environmental science, regulations and methods to support the Iraq Ministry of Environment. Earlier in life, Michael was Director for Public Information for the National Space Society and ran their Philadelphia office writing congressional briefing books, white papers on space policy and articles on space colonies and in-space mining. He was a contributing panelist on the OMNI Magazine Symposium on US Space Policy. Michael is married, has a dog and a cat and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

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