In Praise of Class War: Barack Obama’s Comeback to Victory

“They only call it class war when we fight back!”

—sign at Occupy Wall Street

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

—Warren Buffett

How did Barack Obama rally back from an approval rating that sank down to 40 percent in the summer of 2011 to win re-election just over one year later, even with all of the armament and fury of the right hurled against him?

Political pundits point to the massive amount of money his campaign raised, the masterful ground game put together by his organizers and the usual advantages of incumbency. What is much less acknowledged is Obama’s decision to engage in class warfare, to directly engage the class war being waged by the 1 percent against the rest of the country.

To be sure, President Obama is a reluctant class warrior. He would rather get along than draw a clear line in the sand. Consequently, the successful class war aspects of his victory have been largely underrated. Moreover, conservative Democrats – New Dems and Blue Dogs alike – constantly rail against class warfare, which may have more to do with their financial backing than their electoral acuity. For the talking heads, class warfare is something that for the most part they would prefer to gloss over.

But the facts are clear. Reluctantly or not, Obama’s campaign took on the class warrior role in 2011 and 2012. He took on the 1 percent less aggressively than he should have, but just enough to win. And importantly, he was far more aggressive on class issues in certain key states in the Midwest—Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – the states he needed for victory.

Class warfare was rooted in the triumphs of the few over the last decades, the reality that the wealthy and special corporate interests were rigging the rules to benefit themselves, while the middle class was getting crushed. Occupy Wall Street brought this reality to national attention – and demonstrated widespread American sympathy for its analysis. Then Republicans set up the trope by nominating a tribune of the 1 percent as their candidate.

The First Shots Were Fired From The Right

The class war, ironically, broke out first in the Republican primaries.

After former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s victory in New Hampshire, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas governor Rick Perry savaged Romney as a “vulture capitalist,” the “man from Bain” who profited in his capacity as the CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital from breaking up companies, shipping jobs abroad and leaving a broken carcass behind.

In the eloquent words of conservative evangelical and talking head Mike Huckabee in 2008, Mitt Romney “looks like the guy who fired you.”

“Those of us who believe in free markets…find it pretty hard to justify rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company, leaving behind 1,700 families without a job,” Gingrich said.

Funded by Sheldon Adelson, Gingrich’s SuperPAC launched a $3 million attack on Romney, its centerpiece a 28-minute movie attacking Bain Capital and its greedy devastation of working families and communities.

As a result of those attacks, Romney’s negatives soared.

On January 7, just before winning a big victory in the New Hampshire primary, Romney’s unfavorable rating stood at 39.2 percent (according to TPM Poll Tracker), but he was still a front runner with a net positive rating. After two weeks of focus on Bain Capital, plus a strong debate performance by Gingrich, Romney came in second to Gingrich in the South Carolina primary—Newt’s only primary win outside his home state of Georgia—getting only 27 percent of the vote to Gingrich’s 40 percent. By the time Romney righted his course again, his negatives had climbed substantially; by late March, his unfavorable rating had peaked at 48.3 percent.

On the night Mitt Romney won a big primary victory in New Hampshire, he tried to fend off the attacks on Bain Capital and “vulture capitalism.” “This is such a mistake for our party and our nation,” he said. “This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy.”

But Rick Perry made his own position clear that same day: “They’re vultures sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick…And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton.”

Steps on the Comeback Trail

Barack Obama’s comeback trail might be said to begin on September 8, 2011, after the debt ceiling fiasco had ruined the ratings of everyone inside the Beltway. The President refocused the national debate on jobs during a nationally televised address on that day to promote his American Jobs Act before a joint session of Congress,

The president then conducted several campaign-style events—at the White House, in Ohio and North Carolina, and at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus—pushing the Jobs Act.

During this period, the Occupy Wall Street movement broke fiercely onto the national screen with its iconic chant, “We are the 99 percent.” It focused the nation on the depredations of Wall Street and the declining prospects of middle- and lower-class Americans over the past four decades. The Obama team (both in the campaign and in the administration) did not quite know what to do with the new Occupy Wall Street energy, but as a byproduct of Occupy’s organizing, the Obama team did gain a clear advantage as a result of the reframing of the nation’s most important economic issue.

“Inequality,” “the 1 percent” and “Wall Street” were now more important issues than they had been in August, while “austerity” and “you’re on your own” economics were in increasing disfavor.

For example, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll on October 2012, more than a year after Occupy Wall Street occupied Liberty Plaza, found that “jobs” were mentioned more often (51 percent) than “government debt and deficits” (43 percent) when people were asked what they considered the most urgent economic problem. “Income and wealth inequality between the richest and the rest of the country” ranked third, with 33 percent. And among those voters who are members of what is coming to be called the “rising American electorate”—the young, single women, minority voters—the “income and wealth inequality” issue took second place behind “jobs,” with 40 percent, edging out “government debt and deficits” with 37 percent. Greenberg’s poll also noted that voters “want to take power away from Wall Street and Washington.”

This reframing of the key issues by the Occupy movement was an unearned benefit to the Obama campaign that factored into its comeback. He would do better on the new terrain than on the previous austerity-dominated terrain.

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt

On December 6, 2011, President Obama took another step down the class war trail, with a big economics speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, revisiting a campaign stop that Teddy Roosevelt made a century ago.

The Guardian reported on that stop, with this subhead: “US President reprises themes of Teddy Roosevelt, decrying the ‘you’re on your own’ economics of Republicans.”

Obama’s speech was blunt and eloquent:

“This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.…They want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

“I am here to say they are wrong. I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own [emphasis added]. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules…

“It’s wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker, maybe earns $50,000 a year, should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50 million.

“It’s wrong for Warren Buffett’s secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett…

“We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.”

Obama ended his speech by quoting Teddy Roosevelt: “The fundamental rule of our national life…the rule which underlies all others—is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.”

Democrats Pick Up The Bain Capital Attack

The Democrats did not wait long to launch their own Bain Capital critique. As soon as the GOP primaries wound down, with Romney finally dispatching Rick Santorum, the SuperPAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action, launched its own Bain TV ads. Robert Draper summarized the Priorities strategy in a July 7 New York Times magazine piece, pointing out several aspects of the ad maker’s thinking:

  • “Priorities would focus on ‘defining Romney,’ and in the process, destroying him.”
  • ”Defining the opponent early was crucial.”
  • ”Because voters at this point [the spring of 2012] don’t know much about Romney, every dollar we spend now is worth more.”
  • ”TV ad rates are cheaper to buy far in advance.”
  • ”Obama’s opponent was not an ideologue per se, the Priorities team decided, but instead someone who knows and cares only about wealthy Americans. [Bill] Burton describes the distinction as ‘a top/bottom rather than left/right approach’—also known in Republican circles as class warfare.” [Emphasis added.]
  • ”The best explanatory tool for this narrative would prove to be Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.”
  • ”The next month [May]–25 weeks before the general election—[Democratic businessman Steve] Mostyn’s donation would help finance a $10 million TV blitz in the swing states of Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Each week featured a somber new anti-Romney testimonial…” about the impact of Romney’s decisions at Bain Capital to shutter companies and move jobs overseas.

On May 7, Romney’s unfavorable rating nationally was at 46.4 percent. By August 5, it was back up to 47.7 percent negative.

Using very similar messaging, but reaching out to the crucial Latino vote, Priorities USA Action and the Service Employees International Union jointly launched a $4 million Spanish-language ad campaign. As noted by Carol E. Lee in the June 11 Wall Street Journal: “The goal of the new ad is to demonstrate that Mr. Romney has a vision for the country that would benefit the wealthiest at the expense of Latinos and other working families.” The emphasis was on radio and TV ads in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida. Need copies/links to ads

War Weapons: The Ryan Budget, Medicare and Taxes

At the same time, most of the Senate and House Democratic campaigns were emphasizing their dedication to protecting Medicare from cuts backed by congressional Republicans. Many were highlighting their opposition the “Ryan budget,” the Republican budget proposal drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, and the devastating social program cuts it contained. In particular, they pummeled Ryan’s desire to turn Medicare into a private insurance voucher program, which included a spending cut of $716 billion in the program over 10 years.

Many candidates were also promising to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, openly declaring that people earning more than $250,000 a year should see their taxes go up at least to the tax rates that existed under President Clinton.

President Obama also criticized the Ryan Budget and campaigned on making the wealthy pay taxes at a higher rate..

The Romney campaign countered with a trick, used to good effect in House races in 2010, of attempting to “inoculate” themselves against Democratic attacks on their Medicare cuts by mischaracterizing the $716 million in Medicare savings that are in the Affordable Care Act. These were largely cuts of excess payments to insurance companies, not actual cuts to Medicare recipients. But Republican use of the line that Obama and the Democrats were “cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare” was intended only to confuse voters on an issue that favored Democrats, not win the point outright, and to deflect attention from the fact that Ryan’s Medicare changes would shift rising health care costs onto seniors.

Despite the Republican messaging, the Medicare issue played well for the Democrats. It fit in well as a populist issue for the Democrats, especially in an environment where the Republicans had nominated a candidate with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and in Swiss banks, who refused to release his tax returns, yet who paid a lower tax rate than most working Americans.

These critiques meshed with the Bain Capital attacks and contributed to an overall image of Mitt Romney as favoring the rich—a charter member of the 1 percent elite and a man out of touch with the way most Americans lived their lives. Romney’s unfavorable ratings remained in the high 40s throughout the summer. And they were even worse in some of the key battleground states.

By mid-September, even a Fox News poll found Romney at a 50 percent unfavorable rating in Ohio (a couple points higher than his national negative rating). In Florida, Fox News poll found Romney “above water” by 49-45 percent, but with Obama ahead on the Medicare issue by 54-41 percent. In Virginia, Romney had slightly favorable ratings, by 48-46 percent, but again, like Florida, Obama was up 52-40 percent on the Medicare issue.

PPP polls, meanwhile, found Romney “underwater” in Ohio in both August 14, where he had a 41 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable rating, and as recently as October 28, when PPP had Romney with a 51 percent negative rating. In mid-August, PPP also found Romney with 50 percent unfavorable ratings in New Hampshire. On August 21, his unfavorables were at 49 percent in Virginia. And in Wisconsin, polling right after Paul Ryan had boosted the ticket there to a 1 percent lead statewide, Romney’s negatives were still at 48 percent.

Here are PPP’s unfavorable ratings for Mitt Romney in October in other key battleground states: Colorado on October 25, Romney had 49 percent unfavorables; Nevada on October 25, also was at 49 percent negative; Iowa was at 48 percent unfavorable, with Obama winning the Medicare issue by 50-45 percent; Wisconsin was at 50 percent unfavorable, with Obama winning Medicare by 52-45 percent. And in Pennsylvania on October 15, Romney came in at 49 percent unfavorable.

Not Top Down, but “The Middle Class Out and the Bottom Up”

In her powerful Democratic convention speech in Charlotte, Elizabeth Warren eloquently and explicitly made the case that almost all Democrats were making on the campaign trail:

“Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he’s spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he’s fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn’t grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That’s how we create jobs and reduce the deficit.”

Similarly, the DNC Platform reads:

“This has to be our North Star—an economy that’s built not from the top down,but from a growing middle class, and that provides ladders of opportunity for those working hard to join the middle class.

“This is not another trivial political argument. It’s the defining issue of our time and the core of the American Dream. And now we stand at a make-or-break moment, and are faced with a choice between moving forward and falling back.”

The Obama campaign constantly reinforced the contrasts between the candidates regarding the middle class. The President drew the line on eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He talked about protecting Social Security and preventing the conversion of Medicare into a voucher program. He talked about the Romney policies being the same policies that got the country into the current mess. He talked about how he increased Pell Grants, saved money for college students by cutting out the middleman on student loans, introduced a jobs bill, and hammered constantly on the success of the auto rescue.

To a large extent, the Obama campaign, with a big assist from Priorities USA Action, drew the middle class contrast by painting a believable picture of Mitt Romney as the plutocrat who doesn’t know how you really live, and can’t empathize with your struggles. Romney contributed to that caricature—which stuck to him throughout—with his Swiss bank accounts, his Cayman Islands tax dodges, his refusal to release his income taxes (which Harry Reid played like a violin and kept Romney off balance for weeks), his preposterously high definition of what constitutes a “middle class” income, his car elevators, multiple Cadillacs and homes, and his steadfast belief that “corporations are people, my friend.”

Even the week of the London Olympics, which should have been a strong one for Romney given his leadership of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, turned into a negative for him. First, he insulted the United Kingdom’s preparations for the event, irritating the Tories who should have been his political allies. Second, the constant discussion about Ann Romney’s dressage horse underscored the out-of-touch plutocrat image.

Later, the secret “47 percent” video emerged (discussed here later) and validated that plutocrat, 1 percenter image that the Obama campaign had so carefully constructed. With one arrogant riff, Mitt Romney made it clear that he cared little for the bottom half of the nation.

The Blue-Collar Battleground

“Every single ad we’ve run is about how Mitt Romney would harm the middle class,” Bill Burton, senior strategist at Priorities USA, was quoted as saying in a September 21, 2012 National Journal article.

Reporter Alex Rarty went on to write, “The group’s ability to define Romney is most evident in Ohio, a particularly critical swing state this year. Priorities USA, which by mid-September had spent more than $6M on advertising in the Buckeye State, began an ad barrage in May that assailed Romney’s career at Bain Capital…The message was aimed squarely at blue-collar voters, a pivotal constituency. [Emphasis added.]

“And it seems to have taken hold. An NBC/WSJ/Marist poll in early September found the President leading by 7 percentage points in Ohio, one of a plethora of such surveys that show Obama over-performing in the state relative to his national standing…A July memo from Priorities contended that in media markets where its ads ran, 40 percent of voters said that Romney’s business background made them less likely to support him. In demographically similar markets where its ads didn’t run, that number dropped to 34 percent.”

A key component of the Obama campaign’s argument to blue-collar workers in the Midwest, especially in Ohio and Michigan, was its support of the auto industry bailout. This issue alone was arguably the class warfare front that sealed the victory for President Obama.

Obama had supported the government bailout of GM and Chrysler, despite its political unpopularity at the time. Romney opposed it, most notably in a New York Times guest column entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

This led to the pithiest line of the campaign, that Vice President Biden used to good effect on the campaign trail, to summarize why Barack Obama should be reelected: “GM is alive. Bin Laden is dead.”

In a state where, according to Alex MacGillis in the September 25 New Republic, “one in eight Ohio jobs is linked to the auto industry,” this became such a defining issue that Romney attempted to pretend he was for the bailout during the debates, and closed the election running ads in Ohio arguing that he was the one who supported the real bailout, trying to obscure the issue to the voters.

“Without the bailout, who knows what would have happened to them [Ohio auto jobs],” MacGillis wrote. “And the Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats aren’t letting voters forget this.

“When I was in Toledo last week, I asked Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat, what he made of Obama’s strong position, and he didn’t hesitate. ‘It’s the bailout,’ he said. ‘It’s not just the Jeep plant in Toledo and that they build the Chevy Cruze in Youngstown. But more than that—we have 88 counties, and in 82 of them there are supplier plants to the larger ones. When you start talking about 82 of 88 counties that have some sort of direct, literal, positive impact from this rescue, I think that on the margins has the ability to tweak the numbers.’

“He [Kapszukiewicz] added, by way of conclusion: ‘Obama could certainly lose the election, but it appears he’s going to run a little bit ahead in Ohio than he does nationally—creating a first in history moment where a Democrat would win Ohio and still lose the election.”

The Obama campaign pounded away on the auto bailout, emphasizing it in ads, at the doors, and during the debates. The campaign also worked in close harmony with the Sherrod Brown for Senate campaign, stressing the auto bailout continuously. The auto bailout was by far the Obama campaign’s strongest re-election argument in Ohio; it had 64 percent support in a late September Washington Post poll.

And both the Obama and Brown campaigns benefited greatly from another moment of progressive class warfare, the successful statewide referendum to repeal Republican Governor John Kasich’s attempt to get rid of collective bargaining. The labor unions and community groups worked together from the grassroots up to build a massive statewide infrastructure to win this referendum, an electoral infrastructure that has been very useful in 2012 to both the Obama and Brown campaigns. (A similar useful dynamic took place in Wisconsin, where the labor/community grassroots infrastructure created during the Wisconsin Walkout ended up boosting both Barack Obama and Tammy Baldwin there.)

Obama’s support for the auto bailout also helped neutralize Romney’s early efforts to get traction in Michigan, where his father was governor, and in other states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have spinoff auto jobs. As one Working America organizer put it: “Without President Obama, the Rust Belt would have been a whole lot rustier.”

“We’re All in This Together” Outperformed the Republicans’ “Yoyo”

On August 22, Obama led Romney by 1.3 percent (according to the Huffington Post Pollster), with Obama at 46.2 percent and Romney at 44.9 percent. About a week later, the Republican National Convention opened in Tampa, featuring an attack on the President based on “You Didn’t Build That,” a distortion of Obama’s statement that individual success in America is based on what we do collectively, including through a national government—a rebuke of “YOYO” or “you’re on your own” economics. Republicans sought to twist Obama’s words into an indictment of free enterprise and individual initiative. It did not make much of an impact on the voters.

The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte followed immediately after, and featured a hard pushback on the GOP’s “war on women,” along with a strong endorsement—including by Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Warren in highlight speeches—of “we’re all in this together” economics.

The class distinction in the two approaches is not subtle. And the DNC message did better with the nation.

By the week after the Democratic convention, Obama had extended his lead to 3.9 percent—a gain of 2.6 percentage points since just before the RNC had opened. Given the polarization of the electorate, those were tough 2.6 percentage points to gain.

President Obama had boosted his own share of the vote up to 48.0 percent, while pushing Romney’s down to 44.1 percent. And Obama’s job approval rating crawled back into positive territory on September 16 by 48.2 percent favorable to 48.1 percent unfavorable—a net positive, however slight, for the first time in years!

The 47 Percent Video Adds to Romney’s Woes

Then, on September 17, reporter David Corn of Mother Jones magazine broke the story of a secretly taped Romney “47 percent” video, which catches Romney at a ritzy fundraiser in Florida where he thinks he is talking privately among his 1 percent friends. The video catches him disparaging and insulting almost half the nation.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. … And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. … And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

This story fit right in with the prevailing narrative that had been set about Romney, that he was an out-of-touch, charter member of the 1 percent elite, who really didn’t have much in common with his fellow citizens. The media picked up the story, and on September 24, Mitt Romney’s unfavorable ratings hit their overall peak, according to Pollster, at 48.7 percent negative. Obama stretched his lead to a solid 4.1 percent, at 48.3 percent to Romney’s 44.2 percent

The 47 percent video had solidified Obama’s lead—or seemed to, prior to the first presidential debate—by showing exactly what those in charge of a “YOYO” society believe about their fellow citizens, and how much they hold them in contempt. The 47 percent video helped boost the power of the “we’re all in this together” message the Democrats had used successfully at the Charlotte convention.

The Stage Was Set for Obama’s Re-Election

Prior to the first presidential debate (as we know, a disaster for Obama), the Obama campaign had been very successful. His job approval ratings had finally climbed back up below 40 percent to positive territory, at 48.2 percent. His opponent’s unfavorable ratings were higher than they had ever been nationally, almost at 50 percent. And the President had built a clear 4.1 percent national lead, despite the troubled economy, with even bigger leads in many of the key swing states.

Obama never did wage all-out class warfare on the Wall Street institutions that had jeopardized the national economy or on the 1 percenters who had bankrolled the obstruction of his political agenda in Congress. But he had strategically dipped his toe into the class war pool, and used it effectively to salvage enough of his blue-collar voting base to win re-election. Most notably, he was unequivocal in his support for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporate tax evaders—and polls consistently showed that on that issue, the public was squarely on his side.

By calling for raising the taxes of the wealthy, and by supporting reinvesting those revenues in education and jobs to rebuild the middle class and to protect programs like Medicare from cuts that shift cost burdens to the financially struggling, Obama kept his positive ratings high enough to win reelection. By repeatedly portraying Mitt Romney as a walking example of the out-of-touch elite, an opponent of the manufacturing jobs epitomized by the auto industry bailout, and a 1 percenter who would jeopardize social programs, education, and Medicare in order to cut taxes on his rich friends, the Obama campaign and its allies were able to drive Romney’s negative up high enough to prevent him from gaining a majority.

This was jeopardized by Obama’s disastrous first debate performance. In that debate Obama appeared to have been caught off guard by Romney’s attempt to “Etch a Sketch” his previous positions, morphing from the “severe conservative” of the Republican primaries to a candidate barely recognizable to those who had been paying close attention. He denied that he would dramatically slash taxes that wealthy Americans would pay even though he had advocated a 20 percent tax cut and elimination of the estate tax. After having campaigned on repealing Obamacare, he was suddenly for keeping many of its key features. He opposed the Wall Street reforms signed into law by the president, but not because they were too harsh on the financial sector, but because the laws were a boon to “New York City bankers.” And when the man from Bain was confronted with the fact that the companies his private equity firm owned got a tax write-off on the costs associated with moving jobs overseas, he said incredulously, “I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” And on it went.

But the damage of that first debate was not permanent. The president returned to his populist themes on the campaign stump and in his two subsequent debates. And even though Romney tried to inject a note of his own populism into the debate by promising to crack down on job-killing trade cheating by China, Romney’s negative ratings remained high enough—especially in the critical Midwestern battleground states—for President Obama to pull through to reelection.

The Class War Will Continue

The 2012 election is only the beginning of class warfare as a potent and necessary tool to promote rebuilding the economy from the bottom up, rather than perpetuate the right wing’s failed trickle-down policies. Engaging the class war exposes the fallacies of their catering to “job creators” who don’t create jobs and their exploitation of faux populism, social issues and patriotism to appeal to working-class voters. It allows Democrats and progressives to win the who’s-side-are-you-on battle.

Yes, it comes with risk. America’s top 1 percent have captured 93 percent of the rewards of economic growth since the economic collapse, and in 2012 many of the 1 percent elite poured unprecedented sums of money into protecting those gains. Their defeat is forcing them to regroup, but regroup they will, and their next push is likely to be even more wily and furious. The temptation for Democrats will be to back off to curry favor with the sources of cash they will need for their next political campaign, even though candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown showed that small money can defeat big money with a compelling populist message.

But this much is clear: More and more of our elections going forward will feature class warfare – only this time with the middle class fighting back. And candidates are going to have to be clear about which side they are on.