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Dan Osborn: “People With The Money Never Give Up Fighting. They Are Relentless.”

The Senate Would Be Better Off With A Working Class Member



Dan Osborn doesn’t say how he’ll vote in the presidential election— which falls on the same day as his Senate election. He’s running for the Nebraska seat that Republican incumbent Deb Fischer is holding. And he’s running as an independent having rejected the offer to make common cause with the state Democratic Party… although the Legal Marijuana Now Party put him on their line too. Neither does he say which party he’ll caucus with if he’s elected. It doesn’t seem likely he’d vote for Trump or caucus with the Republicans but he wants to talk with voters about issues that impact their lives, not about DC politicians.


Wisconsin union leader Randy Bryce told me that he spoke with Osborn last week. “He’s facing the same thing I did when I ran and he’s running for the same reasons. We have too many lawyers and millionaires in office (including state legislators) and almost none with a working class background. If you look at what laws have been passed it’s evident that millionaire lawyers have benefitted at the expense of the majority of the US population. I had to walk off of the job site in order to run. Dan is doing the same thing. It’s a steep uphill struggle to even get your name on a ballot when your background is blue collar. Dan’s doing it as an Independent in a very red state but he’s gaining momentum and I told him I’d help him however I can. We NEED more people like Dan to run if we want laws made that will help us do more than tread water to stay alive.”


I asked a couple of Midwestern Flip Congress candidates about what Randy brought up. Eric Wilson is from the western part of Wisconsin and he’s running for a swing district seat held by reactionary Republican Derreck Van Orden. “As someone that has worked 2 jobs for most of his life,” Wilson said, “I understand what it's like to fight the systems to try to get ahead. Many elected people have no idea what that's like. What we don't need more of is legislators that have no idea what it's like to live in the real world, and have the comforts of government healthcare and benefits. They have no idea what it's like to lose their health insurance because they moved jobs, or not have any paid leave because you're an hourly worker. Creating effective legislation isn't just about choosing the correct words, it's about creating policy that we can actually implement and give us the desired impact. We need people who know how to get that impact sitting at the table making decisions. Instead of moving up the corporate ladder we have individuals who are moving up the political ladder. If not very careful, they can lose touch with how the world actually operates. When you've actually been in the workforce, you have the experience to say, ‘that's not how it actually works’ and push back on people trying to force an agenda. Big corporations don't care about people, they only care about their profits. When they're the only ones with the money and power to lobby lawmakers, we all lose. As someone who has experience in technology, healthcare, and housing, I have the real world experience to think critically about the information coming my way and call bs when I see bs. That's what I want to bring to Congress.”


Jerrad Christian, is running in a tough district he grew up in in eastern Ohio. “The political landscape of the United States is filled with those who have never known an honest day's work,” he told us. “For too long, we've had representatives like Troy Balderson, who inherited a business and then spent the next 15 years in political office— funded by the wealthy to keep a boot on our necks. Troy lacks understanding of the challenges faced by working-class Ohioans and cannot represent a life he hasn't lived. The wealthy have always held the most powerful loudspeakers and used them to drive a wedge between us out here in the world. As someone who has experienced the struggles of being working-poor, I know that our current representation doesn't reflect the diversity and resilience of our region. My experiences and the stories I've seen in the homes of friends and community members have shown me the gaps in our political system. It's time for a change. We need more representatives who understand our struggles and aspirations, who will work for policies that benefit the many, not only the few. That's why I'm here. I am committed to bringing the voices of working-class people into the halls of power, to ensure that our government truly represents all of us. It's time to break the cycle of career politicians for sale and bring real, meaningful change to Ohio and our nation.”


And that brings us back to Dan Osborn and Nebraska. It’s worth remembering that a Change Research poll showed him running about even— slightly ahead actually.



Writing for Barn Raiser earlier this month, Steve Early noted that “In his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Osborn, who led a prominent labor strike against Kellogg’s in 2021, plans to bring together a coalition of farmers, union laborers and small business owners.” He wrote that “Recent studies of lawmakers in the United States have found that less than 2% of those serving on Capitol Hill held blue-collar jobs before they were elected… Dan Osborn, a 48-year-old building trades worker, is a rare example of a candidate working to increase those numbers. Osborn is running a labor-backed independent bid for U.S. Senate this year in Nebraska. His opponent, Sen. Deb Fischer, the 73-year-old Republican incumbent first elected in 2012, pledged to serve only two terms, but is now seeking a third. Fischer has built a $2.7 million re-election war chest with support from defense contractors, Senate Republican colleagues and AIPAC.”



“Osborn, a married father of three children,” he wrote, “first rose to prominence in his home state four years ago as president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 50G, after he led a successful 11-week strike by 500 union members at an Omaha Kellogg cereal factory. Before working in that plant for 18 years, Osborn had dropped out of college and followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Navy. He has also served in two Nebraska National Guard units and is now employed as a steamfitter for a contractor that maintains the heating system at Boys Town, an iconic institution located in Omaha. At his campaign kick-off last fall, Osborn denounced ‘the monopolistic corporations… that actually run this country’ and pledged to ‘bring together workers, farmers, ranchers and small business owners across Nebraska around bread-and-butter issues that appeal across party lines.’ So far, he has raised nearly $400,000 among mostly small donors. Osborn and his volunteers have collected the 4,000 signatures needed to get him on the ballot this November (they’re still collecting signatures to have a safe buffer). His labor endorsements include the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 28, Plumbers Local 16, Sprinkler Fitters Local 699, Steamfitters Local 664, the Office and Professional Employees International Union and Osborn’s former BCTGM Local 50G.”


Early conducted an extensive interview with Osborn. Here are a couple of salient excerpts that I hope will inspire you to contribute to Osborn’s campaign here. He told Early that the Senate “is a country club. It’s full of millionaires, business execs and lawyers. Working-class people just aren’t represented. I think it’s time to change that. It should be ‘we the people’ representing us, not just the country club politicians… To date, I have not taken any time off from work. I can try to sneak in a lunch meeting here or there, but most of my business is conducted during the week, after I get off from my (at minimum) eight-hour shift, and all weekend long. I understood the sacrifice that I was going to have to make to do this, but at the end of the day, I still feel like it has to be done. And it has to be done now. This year. Like, I can’t continue to wait, or hope somebody else will run in the next cycle. And I feel that way because I think the majority of people are feeling that way. There’s an invisible, intangible type of gut feeling that this is one of the most important elections of all time. I imagine that every candidate who has ever run for office would call their own race the most important. But I do feel that, because I think it’s provable and tangible, given the fact that so many people are registering as independents— it’s the fastest growing demographic for registered voters in Nebraska. There’s 270,000 in Nebraska, and nearly 440,000 in Iowa. That’s because we’re seeing the divide that has been created in the polarization of politics, which makes every single issue about getting reelected and not about doing the right thing or getting things done. People are fed up, they’re frustrated, they’re pissed off— whatever terminology you want to use. And I’m one of them.”


He also told Early that, an ex-Democrat, he’s been an independent since 2016. “I feel like both parties have stopped listening to working people and have stopped working for them. They’re all more aligned with corporate interests, especially my opponent, Deb Fischer. She takes a tremendous amount of money from the railroad industry, from pharmaceutical companies, and she votes accordingly. If people don’t already know that, then they need to be informed of it. This is why I say that Washington is broken, and we need to roll up our sleeves and fix it.”


Early: One of the things about your campaign, which was profiled recently by Jonathan Weisman in the New York Times, was your focus on labor issues. You’re somebody that’s supporting paid leave time, minimum wage increases, strengthening rail safety and you’re talking about the right to organize for people misclassified as “independent contractors.” The Times described that agenda as appealing “narrowly to blue-collar wallets.” It doesn’t sound like a narrow range of issues to me. What kind of response have you been getting about your platform?


Osborn: The response is tremendous. It resonates with people because it’s about issues that we all deal with on a daily basis, not the wedge-type issues that divide us. These issues can unite us. That’s what I want to focus on, not creating more division.

 

One of the things that the Times didn’t mention is that my platform calls for lowering taxation of overtime wages. In my field we try to work overtime in order to get ahead in life. But without overtime wages, a lot of people are only able to tread water financially. But with guaranteed overtime pay, if you’re willing to sacrifice the time— and, you know, we are only awarded so many minutes in this life— and choose to use that time to help your company, you should get paid accordingly. But it throws you into a higher tax bracket the more overtime you work. And that’s something I want to fight. If you’re willing to sacrifice for your family, you shouldn’t be punished for it.


… Early: George Norris was one of the great progressive populists who came from the Nebraska tradition of running as an independent. Does that help anybody running as an independent like you today, or is someone like him not remembered much today?

 

Osborn: As I understand it, populism ebbs and flows throughout history, predominantly since the Industrial Revolution. The reason for this is because the people with the money are always fighting to get more of it, and to have more power and control. And they do so by buying congressmen and senators. And then the people start to realize that the government isn’t working for them, and they start to elect more populist candidates that feel their pain and struggles. 

But the caveat is that the people with the money never give up fighting. They are relentless. That’s why this election is so important because what we’re seeing is a class struggle, if you will.

 

We live in the richest nation in the world, and we want to be able to live in relative comfort. We want to be homeowners and car owners. Like myself, I’m not trying to get money so I can buy a Corvette.  I just want to live in relative peace and harmony and happiness in the richest country in the world. That’s the basis of the American dream. That’s what the American people deserve. And when 1% of the population owns 90% of the wealth, that’s problematic. 


1 Comment


Guest
May 23

The $enate would be no different at all with one working-class member. Or 30. As we always see, even if a less shitty democrap gets in (over the "graysoning" investments of the party), the PARTY assimilates them. It's amazing how far a few hundred thou towards re-election (either to the candidate or against them in the next primary) can go into making someone, at the very least, STFU. Just ask Patty Murray or AOC. They know.


What WOULD make the $enate (and hou$e... and america) better off (from the perspective of the 99.9%) would be a better FUCKING PARTY to supplant the hapless worthless feckless lying corrupt neoliberal fascist pussy democrap PARTY. All talk about splicing someone who might o…

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