Rachel tweeted a video last night that I'd emailed earlier to our staff. It was Cleveland comic Mike Polk, Jr.'s angry and hilarious YouTubed reaction to the latest Browns loss, in which he yells at an empty Cleveland stadium, "You are a factory of sadness!" (I caution you about one expletive he utters -- which, given the Browns' play of late, is understandable.)
I'd shared a laugh about it before the show with my fellow Clevelander (and our guest last night), Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. In our conversation, she related two aspects of it to the ongoing struggle over union rights back home: first, only we can talk that way about our own. Criticism like Mike Polk's wouldn't be welcome from an outsider. Secondly, we Ohioans (Clevelanders, especially) are bred to hold grudges. That's just sports, you may say. But Ohioans have plenty of political frustration with its Steelers-fan-in-chief, Ohio governor John Kasich, and that could be also bad news for national Republicans.
Issue 2, the referendum on Governor Kasich's union-stripping Senate Bill 5, is being voted on today. A "yes" vote means you want his bill to become law; "no" means just the opposite. Last night, Ms. Schultz illustrated how impassioned Ohioans have become to stop Senate Bill 5, and why this battle may create a grudge that voters not only take to the polls today, but a year from now:
John Kasich has been the best community organizer in the state for Democrats, but it`s not just Democrats who have decided they're voting no. I mean, we've seen so many Republicans come out against this. We're seeing a lot of independent voters. In my own neighborhood, yards that have McCain signs in 2008 have vote no on Issue 2 signs.
The sister of an Ohio nurse and an Ohio schoolteacher, she elaborated on why this has hit so close to home for so many in the Buckeye State:
Everybody knows a schoolteacher or a police officer or a firefighter or a nurse...This is what Kasich and the Republicans did not anticipate is when you go after public workers, you`re going after family members of tens of thousands of Ohioans...And when you go after the rights of workers to collectively bargain for wages, benefits and job conditions, you are suddenly not just going after unions. You're going after the promise of America. And it was so interesting to watch people who thought they didn`t care at all about unions suddenly realize they care very deeply about the rights that unions brought to workers in this country. This has been an incredible groundswell movement of support for unions and what unions stand for.
Mike Polk said in his now-viral video, "I know there are more important things than football, but you are supposed to be our pleasant distraction from those things. All we do is pay you money to put us in a bad mood every week." And that's just football! What happens when those "important things" are threatened, and Ohioans in a really bad mood about that, and have recourse to do something about it? We'll find out today.
The full segment is embedded after the jump.
More: Mother Jones on the Ohio elections -- both on Issue 2 and the lesser-known Issue 3, a Tea Party-driven referendum seeking to keep President Obama's health reform from taking effect in the state.