Mike O’Brien: Republican of the Year

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election-march-2016-michael-j-o-brienIt’s been six weeks since the election and I still can not get my head around the results and what they say about the country. What’s worse, I’m most confused of all about the results in my own community. Donald Trump won just a shade under 51% of the vote in Trumbull County, where every single Democrat on the ballot for a local office, won — most with 60+%. The only other Republican winner in TC was Rob Portman who got 53.5% of the vote in his U.S. Senate race.

Enough words to fill ten bibles have been written since November 8th, attempting to explain how Trump won Trumbull County and other places like it in the Midwest. Warren and the Mocha House even made it on to CNN recently when Van Jones came to town to find out why one of the most consistently Democratic counties in America suddenly went for Trump.

I believe there were many reasons for this, including a damaged Hillary Clinton candidacy, but being an old brand marketing guy I tend to see things through that prism. I think the Democratic brand has simply stopped meaning anything very specific to many people. Even worse, for a lot of people it has come to be a party that sticks up for anybody except me.

When both parties have their heads plunged deep in the Goldman Sachs trough the voters are forced to identify them from their rear ends, and one ass looks pretty much like another.

In one of the truly great examples of political brand confusion history, Warren’s own Mike O’Brien recently voted with every Ohio House Republican for the new Ohio 20-week abortion ban. In case you are wondering where the Democratic Party stands on abortion, here is the relevant section from their platform:

“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

Compare that to the provisions of the abortion bill Governor Kasich recently signed into law (no exemptions for rape or incest, btw) and you can see why Mike O’Brien was the easy winner of our first annual “Republican of the Year” award. I doubt Martha Yoder could have done any better.

I’m a little surprised Mike hasn’t gotten more recognition for this head-scratcher of a vote, although there have been some pretty funny memes floating around. This was the only one I could publish for reasons of good taste.img_7422

And before I let go of Governor Kasich, let me offer him as another example of how difficult it can be to judge politicians in the modern era of weak, faceless parties. More than a few of my moderate-to-liberal east coast friends said some variant of the following to me in the past year:

“I hate Trump and pretty much all of them on that stage, except your Governor; he seems like a reasonable person.

I’d reply with something like, “Well, he inherited a big deficit and was faced with some tough choices, but what he did was balance the budget by defunding the cities, public schools and Planned Parenthood.” That wasn’t generally what they had in mind as reasonable.

And now he makes national news — not for signing one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country — but for vetoing the one O’Brien and his Republican pals really wanted, which banned abortions after detecting a fetal heartbeat — before many women even know they are pregnant. Now he looks even more reasonable.

This political brand confusion is probably only going to get worse for a while since the political left and right each subscribe to their own set of facts. But eventually reality is going to win. When you pop the top on a Bud and take a swig, you get Bud — not Moose Knuckle Winter Stout.

So congratulations Mike O’Brien on being Republican of the Year. Enjoy it while you can.

Posted Saturday, December 17th, 2016 under Election.

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