"Akron office as polls close. Black white brown. Four different countries of origin, 7 kids from college, 3 teenagers, 4 children under 10. The food is homemade. They smile, laugh, tell war stories. Some funky afro pop starts to play as the local techy sets up streaming video, a pastor trades jokes with the children, pregnant mother piles on the greens and rice. And they keep coming in."
"This is what democracy looks like."
This manifestation of democracy wasn't taking place at a candidate's campaign headquarters or in the ballroom of a hotel. It was taking place inside the W.O.M.B aka the Way of Mind and Body and what people were excited about was seeing the results of their experimental organizing work that they had done around the Fighting for Ohio Jobs campaign.
The seeds for this campaign were planted on June 1, 2012, when the Campaign for Community Change and the Ohio Organizing Campaign embarked on an ambitious experiment to blend movement and political organizing. Two of the goals for the campaign are to win policy changes that create the conditions for every Ohioan to have one good job. Not two like Mimi currently has or even three jobs like some Ohioans have, but one good job that can support a family, provide benefits and give dignity to workers. The other goal is to change the change the narrative on jobs and the economy by reshaping the way Ohioans view economic development, revenue, and job creation.
In spite of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Republican-aligned Super PACS spent attacking Democrats like Sen. Sherrod Brown and President Obama, the campaign’s simple message broke through in two big ways.
The first breakthrough came in telling the story of the campaign through the themes of Hire Ohio, Protect Ohio Communities and Respecting Ohio Workers. By leveraging digital media, the campaign told the stories of what it means to Hire Ohio, highlighting the Ohio contracting practices that send economic opportunities and jobs out of state.
The campaign also blended digital organizing and traditional organizing to pass a city ordinance in Canton which holds banks and lenders responsible for the condition of foreclosed properties by requiring a $10,000 bond to make sure the sites are maintained and secured.
The second breakthrough came when Sen. Brown's campaign adopted the Fighting for Ohio Jobs brand to highlight the fact that his challenger Josh Mandel would have opposed the public investment in saving the U.S. auto industry.
Mandel went on to lose his race but the campaign’s work isn't done yet. In fact, it's just getting started.
It will take more than one election cycle to reverse the pattern of deindustrialization and declining public investment in Ohio's infrastructure but Fighting for Ohio Jobs is in it for the long haul because movements for justice never end. Campaigns do.