The time has come for politicians all over the country to decide whether or not they will be running for president in 2020. The process is starting now, before candidates officially declare their candidacy, so they can put together presidential exploratory committees, build campaign teams, and start hitting the campaign trail. People like Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, have already begun the process of declaring their candidacy. However, there is one person who is missing from this robust list of qualified candidates: Senator Sherrod Brown. Unlike many of my past articles, this article is not a call-to-action for Oberlin students. Contrarily, this is a call-to-action to Senator Brown to listen to his constituents and run for President.
Senator Brown’s political career began during his final year at Yale University when he ran for the Ohio House of Representatives and, after graduating, became the legislative body’s youngest member. At age 30, Brown ran for Ohio secretary of state — and won. From 1983 to 1991, Secretary Brown focused on voter registration and outreach all across Ohio. Then, from 1993 to 2006, Brown served as the U.S. representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district. In Congress, Brown was an early advocate of LGBTQ rights and opposed an amendment to Ohio’s constitution that would have banned same-sex marriage. He was also one of the few U.S. Representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. In 2006, Brown defeated current Ohio Governor-elect Mike DeWine in Ohio’s U.S. Senate Race and has served as one of Ohio’s senators ever since. Even as Ohio has elected more and more Republicans into office, Brown has retained his seat and shown voters that Democrats can and will win in Ohio. To say that Brown is qualified is an understatement. However, what makes him the perfect candidate for president is not the fact that he has an immense amount of legislative experience. It is the fact that he can actually win.
Ever since Trump won in 2016, I have heard countless people say, “At least he will be gone by 2020.” Well, I am not so sure. Trump speaks to a demographic that Hillary Clinton could not. Many people of color and other minority groups have known all along what some Americans are just beginning to discover now that Trump is president. Our country is sexist. Our country is homophobic. Our country is racist. Donald Trump may have amplified these beliefs among voters in our country, but they have always been there, and without the right Democratic opponent, he will win re-election. To prevent another four years of Trump’s racist and discriminatory policies, the Democratic party needs to unite and pick a candidate who can earn the support of the swing voters that Hillary Clinton was not able to secure.
I am not only saying that Sherrod Brown is the right candidate because he is a straight, white man from Ohio. Frankly, I am saying that a straight, white man from Ohio may be the only candidate who can beat Trump. We cannot continue to ignore a population of voters who voted against Hillary Clinton simply because she was a woman. Our country cannot afford another four years of President Trump without irreparable damage to social progress. In order to work toward a day where a woman will be president, we must have a Democratic candidate who can actually win in 2020.
Ohio is a key state in presidential races, and with the state becoming more and more red, a beloved politician from Ohio — like Sherrod Brown — may be the only Democrat who can turn Ohio blue come 2020. As president, I know Brown will continue to advocate for minority communities across Ohio and the country. He is experienced, he is loved across the state, he speaks to both progressives and moderates, and he might just be the person to take Trump out of office. But Sherrod Brown hasn’t officially declared that he will be running for president … yet.
Now, I don’t ever want to be president. But I want to live in a country where someone who looks like me could be. We aren’t there yet, but we do have an opportunity in 2020 to show Trump and his supporters that love can trump hate. That kindness can trump fear. That decency can trump bigotry. That one day, a gay man or a woman of color will easily beat an unqualified racist like Trump to become the president of the United States of America. We can’t “make America great again” when it was never great. But, we can elect a president who can pave the way for a day when it will be.
So here is my call-to-action:
Dear Senator Sherrod Brown,
An Oberlin student who can’t take four more years of hate.
P.S. Make Beto O’Rourke your Vice President. I want to see Trump’s face when he loses both Ohio and Texas.