As the old saying goes, fear is the greatest motivator.
And U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-OH] is trying his best to instill Trump fear in Ohio’s college students, hoping it will motivate them to head to the polls in November’s crucial midterm elections and pull the lever for Democrats.
Brown appeared at Ohio University in Athens last week to launch his “Students For Sherrod” political action movement. He encouraged students to be good Democrats and vote against Republicans and Trump policies.
He told students attending the Aug. 31 event at OU that they need to become not just voters but activists for the Democrat Party. And he even gave a little advice on how to get started in that role.
“Find five people you know,” Brown said, “who aren’t excited about voting,” and encourage them to do so. “Adopt them, mentor them, teach them… and then make sure you take these five people, walk ’em over to the Board of Elections in October and early vote.”
Brown, who will turn 66 in November, has been either in political office or running for office since 1974, his entire adult life. He’s been in Washington since 1993.
Brown is now finishing up his second term in the U.S. Senate and wants a third. He faces a challenge from Rep. Jim Renacci [R-OH-16], a businessman and accountant.
Brown served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he moved up to the Senate and was Ohio’s secretary of state and a member of the State House before starting his long career in Washington, D.C.
At last week’s rally on the OU campus, he railed against the “gun lobby,” and said being against guns is helping him win the college-student vote.
The predicted “blue wave” in November will mean Democrats reclaiming a congressional majority, but only if student activists work to make it happen, Brown said.
He encouraged students to work with the College Democrats and other political organizations, to volunteer for campaigns by knocking on residence-hall doors and spreading the word.
“Come Nov. 7 a bunch of students wake up and they think ‘Oh my God, I went to the polls for the first time and the people who I voted for won’ … You know what’s going to happen?” Brown said. “They’re all going to vote in 2020 and that will be the end of Donald Trump.”
Brown mentioned his lifetime “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, and OU students responded with resounding applause.
In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this past February, he said young voters are concerned about how much money politicians receive from Americans who support the Second Amendment.
According to The New Political, Brown said millions of dollars have been spent to oppose his his anti-gun record, but he is fine with that because of his newfound confidence in young people choosing to vote anti-gun.
“If students vote in as large of numbers, as I think they will, the whole world changes,” Brown said.
OU College Democrats President Bailey Williams and College Democrats of Ohio President Anthony Eliopoulos both spoke glowingly about Brown before introducing him at the Aug. 31 event.
Eliopoulos said students are frustrated, “and we’re going to demand better… by knocking on doors, making calls, by registering our roommates and our classmates to vote and then get them to the polls to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Brown then spoke about a day in 1964 when former President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his Great Society initiative on OU’s campus.
“What came out of the Great Society was Medicare, Head Start, Medicaid, the beginning of protecting the environment,” Brown said. “…The kinds of things that change people’s lives for the better.
“Out of that, also, came Pell (student) grants later,” Brown told the room full of students, professors and Athens-area Democrat politicians. “It was the first time the federal government really recognized, in the 1960s… how important that was if the working-class kids and low-income kids and poor kids had a chance to go to OU or to go to Ohio State… or wherever,” Brown said.
He then launched into an attack President Trump, comparing him to Barack Obama.
For most of the students in the room, Brown said, their first thoughts about politics related to Obama. “A man who loved his children and his family, a man who respected women, a man who told the truth,” Brown said. “You kind of know where I’m going with this because of what we have now.”
Brown told the students they are “activists in the great tradition of what happened in the 1960s,” arguing that improvements to health care, Pell grants, the environmental protection agency, workers rights and other gains would not have become reality “if it weren’t for activists.”
“We live longer, healthier and better lives because of activists,” Brown said.
As for his poor NRA rating, he acknowledged this has cost him votes in the past.
“It probably costs me 2 or 3 percent of the vote… People all the time come up to me and say ‘I’ll never vote for you ’cause you don’t stand with the NRA.'”
But not this time, he predicted, because young people have been vocal proponents of gun control since the Parkland shooting.
“A whole lot of young voters are walking up to politicians and saying… how much money do you get from the gun lobby?” Brown said. “… This time’s going to be different because of your generation.”
After his brief address, Brown meandered around the room, shaking hands and greeting future voters. Brown told members of the press that he’s expecting to see a “blue wave” of Democratic voters in November, particularly young people.
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Anthony Accardi is a staff writer for The Ohio Star.