Mostly, it’s my absolute love for the American middle class. It is my unyielding faith in the enduring power of the American dream. It is the resentment born of a broken political process that would allow any generation to be handed a world worse off than her parents, much less my own. And it is a stubborn perseverance to continue my now 4 and half year campaign fighting for the working families of Western Pennsylvania.
But perhaps some specifics are in order. It started as a blue-collar girl from a steel mill town, the beneficiary of 4 generations of organized labor. It is a pure personification and self-actualization of the legacy that every union worker dreams of; his daughter will reap the all the benefits of collective bargaining in the workplace and throughout society, without ever carrying a union card. That blue-collar girl saw a Tea Partying, ideological, union busting, plutocrat, in the midst of the rust belt’s long running revolt against the democratic party in Western PA, take a Congressional seat held for 3 decades by John Murtha, with angry, blame-ridden diatribes against healthcare and policies of the human condition. And then a love for the river towns of the Keystone state’s wild West, quickly became a political campaign on the front lines of the most bizarre and historic political wave in our nation’s history. And a Country who had been sacrificing its own economic security and stability for political expedience, suddenly realized the confluence of all its failures in one Presidential election. The PA 12th was at the heart of this surreal phenomenon for the past 30 years. Since the moment the Reagan Democrat became a reality, longtime Democratic strongholds began hemorrhaging rural in working class voters. Westmoreland tipped the scale slightly to the right, followed by Beaver in 2012 and culminating with the conversion of Cambria in 2016. And suddenly, the PA Democratic party went red in all its Federal elections.
In 2008, 2012 and 2016, voters pulled the lever for change. In 2008 and 2012, that change was transcendental and unifying. It told us to “Believe,” asked us to “hope” and affirmed that “yes we can.” In 2016, that change may have been guttural, visceral and angry, but it was still change for the suffering voters in the nation’s rust belt. It is that fundamental desire for change, regardless of party or politics, that compels me to believe that rural and working class voters can be brought back to the Democratic party.
But simply running around our communities, our counties, our Commonwealth and our Country marketing our brand as “not near as bad as the other guys” isn’t going to cut it. We have to give the majority of middle class voters something to actually believe in. So suddenly, ErinforPA is the continuation of an ongoing campaign to reach and touch the hearts and minds of rural and working class voters in the rust belt, inspired by a unified vision for the middle class and propelled by the luck of a relevant time and political climate.
Today, it begins with the contact info of 11,000 people and thousands of social media contacts who, over a period of 4 years, for one reason or another, had an interest in seeing a Democrat elected to the PA 12th. Those people have been receiving regular emails, posts and messaging regularly for that time period, and it seemed a wasted opportunity to stop that fight when so much is at stake in Western PA locally and nationally.
Simply, ErinForPA is very much a campaign. It is fundraising, messaging, branding, outreach, voter registration, GOTV all geared toward winning back the rural and working class areas of Pennsylvania. I want to help fund the Democratic parties that have been deteriorating due to lack of resources and support. I want to support down-ticket Democrats with campaign infrastructure and guidance and I want to get the Democratic party back to a purely economic message.
Our party should resonate with the laid-off steelworker in Cambria county just as much as the single, black mother of 4 in Philadelphia.
Our party should remember the mantra “it’s the economy stupid.” When we traded our working class roots for a neo-liberal base, our fight for universal opportunity for urbanized identity politics and our localized economic awareness for a globalized economic platform - that was stupid.
Our party should focus on the 4 Pillars of Economic Prosperity for the American Middle Class:
1. A good paying JOB for every American
2. Good quality, accessible HEALTHCARE for every American
3. Quality public EDUCATION for every American
4. A 21st century INFRASTRUCTURE that is safe, efficient and befitting the greatest nation on Earth.
It will take us a generation to rebuild our reputation and our brand among our middle class voters, but it can be done. With an inspiring message, based on sound economic principles and an appreciation for a political process that serves at the consent of the governed and not the wealthy, Absolutely, Yes We Can.