In Tennessee, lawmakers, in a naked act of retribution and racism, expelled two Black representatives who had the audacity to speak their minds.
In Wisconsin, a state lawmaker has raised the possibility of impeaching a newly elected Supreme Court judge, a pro-choice and anti-gerrymandering Democrat, to make the court more friendly to conservatives by tilting it to the right.
And throughout the country, Republicans, once the champions of unobtrusive government, now legislate what Americans can and can’t do in their private lives via a slew of proposed or enacted anti-LBGTQ laws.
These examples directly relate to Ohio because the legislature has gerrymandered its way into a veto-proof majority that has already shown it doesn’t care about the people’s will. The autocracy rampaging through the country shows why we need a constitutional amendment to create an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission designed to ensure fair representation and not make it easy for any one party to win a seat based on how partisans carve out districts.
Voters need to stand up and say, “Enough.”
Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Ohio voters know the pitfalls of unchecked power. By using gerrymandering to create veto-proof majorities, these lawmakers become emboldened to act outside the broader public interest by serving a narrow slice of constituents among their most passionate voters.
Ohio has begun taking steps in that direction. Legislators, after criticizing the wastefulness of low-turnout August elections, want to hold one in a few months. They want to make it harder for Ohioans to pass constitutional amendments and institute minority, not majority, rule. These lawmakers want any constitutional amendment to pass with 60% of the vote, meaning just over four in 10 voters could stop any ballot initiatives.
It’s time to say, “Enough!”
The Ohio GOP fears — and that’s not hyperbole — that a November constitutional amendment will codify abortion rights in the state constitution. There’s little doubt such an amendment would pass under the current rules, in which 50% plus one vote — a majority — wins.
Getting to 60%? That’s much harder. A recent Baldwin Wallace poll showed 59.1% of registered Ohio voters favor access to abortion as a fundamental right, a solid majority lawmakers want to ignore.
The party also fears initiatives to create a non-partisan independent body to redraw political maps (redistricting) because that would kill its veto-proof majority. The GOP would still likely retain a majority but — horror of all horror — would have to work across the aisle.
Even if these authoritarian bills make It on the August ballot, it’s incumbent upon us all to get people to the polls to vote no. In Kansas, lawmakers thought they could pull a fast one by placing an anti-abortion measure on last August’s ballot. That led to record turnout, a resounding defeat, and no eggs in grocery stores since they were all over lawmakers’ faces.
Voters did stand up and say, “Enough,”
This is Ohio’s “Enough!” moment. This isn’t an R or a D argument. It’s a democracy argument that holds true in liberal bastions like New York and California. The more we let politicians bend the rules to suit them, the more they’ll do it. Look at where the power brokers in Columbus told us we could stick our redistricting amendment. They didn’t even try to hide their contempt as they created rigged and gerrymandered maps, which is exactly what voters told them not to do by passing two constitutional amendments.
Voters do have a say, despite what some in Columbus want. Send those lawmakers a simple, one-word message:
Ray Marcano’s column appears every Sunday on these pages. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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