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Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur: Democrats Must Do ‘Soul-Searching’

Dec. 27, 2016 (EIRNS)—Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the primary sponsor of legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act in the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses, and the longest-serving woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, told The (Toledo) Blade’s Tom Troy, author of The Blade’s Dec. 18 story, that, after losing the industrial states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2016, "I think the Democratic Party has some soul-searching to do. On the economic front, it fell short."

Troy reports that Kaptur has sent her Democratic House colleagues a packet of graphs, political cartoons, and articles that portray a "bicoastal" bias on the part of the Democratic Party. Kaptur said that the industrial heartland feels "squeezed out, overshadowed, marginalized, ignored."

"I think they are sympathetic, but they really don’t understand," Rep. Kaptur said about House Democrats’ re-election of California Rep. Nancy Pelosi as their Leader over Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.

"They are captive of their own ideology and culture and economies. San Francisco being a financial center, I think it’s really hard for someone like Leader Pelosi to really internalize what it’s like to live in a place where someone can have their job jerked out from under them,"

Kaptur said.

Kaptur said the money of wealthy donors has enormous power, and "it’s all behind the curtains in both parties." The Democratic Party is quick to talk about social issues, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights, women’s rights... so called identity politics.’ The economic message is one which our party was deaf toward for a very long time," Kaptur said, citing the Democratic Party leadership support for the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that allowed manufactuers to make products cheaper [in Mexico] for sale in the United States. The leaders of our party don’t agree with our point of view out here.

Rep. Kaptur said she had spoken to Hillary Clinton before her speech in Toledo on Oct. 3, about a message that would resonate in Ohio. Instead, Clinton gave a speech where billionaire investor Warren Buffett was mentioned, but not the international trade agreements, including NAFTA.

"She didn’t make much of that in Toledo. I was shocked.... She talked more about Warren Buffett. Who knows who that is? And she stood in the Amtrak station and did not talk about how her infrastructure bill would help renovate that station, renovate the water plant, [or] save Lake Erie."

As to Trump’s proposed 35% tariff on goods manufactured in other countries to be sold in the United States, Kaptur said,

"I’d have to see what he’s saying. I’d say he should pick steel to put on tariff on.... One would have to study how you get some kind of parity."

Donald Trump did very well in Youngstown, in eastern Ohio. Mahoning County Democratic chair David Betras said voters perceived the national Democrats as caring "more about where you take a pee than about whether you have a job." (Obama had ordered in May that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, rather than their birth gender.)

Betras sent a memo to the Clinton camapAign in May which said she needed to make a commitment to bring back good jobs. Betras said,

"[T]he messages can’t be about job retraining. These folks have heard it a million times, and frankly, they think it’s complete and total [nonsense."

Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper said that though there are multiple reasons Clinton lost, the main one was that Trump spoke to the frustrations of working people stuck in a flat-wage economy. He believed that Trump’s non-economic message, such as the Muslim ban, and a wall between Mexico and the United States, were embraced by some but ignored by many.

"When you look at where Trump did the best, it was in places that were really reliant on manufacturing—or used to be—or mining or farming."

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