We are heading into the hot season of politics as we pass Labor Day, so as we race toward November, brace yourself for slung mud, innuendo, half-truths, distortions, vicious unfounded attacks and patented good old-fashioned American lies. We all will have to sort through the detritus and figure out just what this election cycle means to Ohio’s future.
The 2014 mid-terms will decide exactly what kind of state Ohio will be as we stumble toward the next decade of the twenty-first century.
Labor Day is in the rear view mirror and November’s chill seems far off. Politically, it’s the day after tomorrow. The campaigns move into constant crisis mode. The rhetoric heats up. The airwaves are awash in political ads. The pundits pontificate, usually spouting talking points by rote. For and against votes begin to lock in as the mystical undecided, decide. Money flows like bourbon as the kid gloves come off. Then, like Christmas for wonks, Election Day dawns. A last moment frenzy of get out the vote and photo ops. Hotel ballrooms are festooned for victory.
For a good idea of what is hurtling down the pike should the Republican Party maintain their callous, corrupt and calculating stranglehold on the statewide offices here in Ohio, we need only look at the last four years.
John Kasich won the Governorship by fewer than 78,000 votes. His win is credited to misrepresenting Governor Strickland’s record in office along with attacks on tax and spend liberalism. Kasich acted as if our economy was devastated, not by the Great Recession, but by anti-business, godless Dems. Kasich spoke as if Ohio was the only distressed state in the Union.
Like most ideas that came out of the Tea Party wave of 2010, Kasich fell back on dubious and discredited right-wing tax cutting for the rich as a panacea. The first order of business was gutting the Ohio Budget. There were devastating hits to education, municipalities, the social safety net and other creative cuts.
This was to erase an eight billion dollar budget shortfall that didn’t exist.
With his razor-thin winning margin, Kasich channeled President George W. Bush as they both believed tiny wins were a mandate for sweeping change. Bush went after Social Security and had his ass handed to him. Kasich, misreading Ohio, went after labor unions.
That, as any blue collar worker could have told him, was not going to end well.
With the new Tea Party/Republican Legislature what became known as Senate Bill 5 was pushed through the legislative process. It was done so with all the subtlety and finesse of a bulldozer. Nearly every parliamentary maneuver available was brought to bear to stifle debate and opposition. Basically, war was declared on Ohio’s unions.
Ostensibly, only the public sector unions were targeted. This was presented as a move to “help balance the state budget” and “give relief to cities held hostage by union thugs”. In truth, SB5 was simply Union-Busting 101.
During the process, the largest mass protests since the Vietnam War were held on the Statehouse grounds in frigid February weather.
The reaction from organized labor was swift and decisive. They knew this was only the opening salvo from Kasich & Company. If the public unions were broken, the private sector unions were next. The State and National Democratic Party rose to the fray as they realized what the loss of their staunch allies would mean to the future.
The day the bill was signed, a petition drive to force a repeal was started. The result was that a record number of signatures was collected. A structural engineer had to be called in to certify that the floor of the Secretary of State’s office could support the weight of the petitions.
Following failed attempts to break the initiative into three parts and change the wording, SB5 (now Issue 2) was on the ballot, intact.
In November 2011, the electorate overwhelmingly handed Kasich and his GOP coterie their ass. Rather than learn their lesson, we started hearing about making Ohio a “Right to Work” state coming from the right. As usual, the GOP and Kasich administration tend to be tone deaf as to where the Ohio electorate actually stands on issues.
However, the Kasich administration tamped down the “Right to Work” moves in the legislature. The House and Senate were told not to bring it up until after the election. After all, labor bloodied Kasich once and he has no desire to go another round at this time. So to prevent another massive grassroots rebellion, John pretends there are no plans to eviscerate Labor. He wants to win and has his sights set on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or the VEEP residency at the Naval Observatory.
Kasich has always worn his “pro-life” credentials on his sleeve, thus he refused to veto any of the horrendous abortion regulations foisted on Ohioans in 2013. You can expect more of the same if he is re-elected. Mike Gonadakis has an appointment to the State Medical Board by Kasich. Gonadakis is always on the local Sunday issue shows pushing the Kasich talking points. As head of Ohio Right To Life, he has cash and influence to put behind all the statewide office holders which leaving them owing him favors. Gonadakis’ stated goal is to end abortion in Ohio. Kasich and the Tea Party/GOP are more than willing to help make Ohio one of the worst states to be a woman. We are making the South look sane at times. We are now a test market for extremism.
As Ohio languishes in a recovering economy, Kasich calls more tax cuts the “path to prosperity”. We can expect JobsOhio to keep spending money with no oversight for dubious returns. The rest of Ohio is up for sale as privatization is a mantra.
Okay, so some have issues with Ed Fitzgerald as the Democratic candidate for Governor. Well, that’s politics. What we need to remember is what we’ve seen since 2010:
- Coddling the wealthy
- Shifting the tax burden to cities as the state budget is slashed
- Police and fire layoffs
- Services cut
- The gutting of the social net
- Possible quid pro quo in campaign donations
- A blank check with no oversight given to charter schools
- An all-out attack on women’s healthcare and rights
- An Administration hell bent on denial of LBGT equality as they defend multiple suits in court
If you care about any of these issues, the course is clear. Vote Democratic in November. If you don’t vote, you are voting for the GOP status quo and emboldening them. We can’t have a replay of 2010 when Dems sat at home in a pique and handed Ohio to these zealots. So vote as if the future depends on it.