Democrats need to vote on May 3 even if they feel disillusioned about the current state of politics, said Morgan Harper, an Ohio Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate, who spoke Thursday during a campaign appearance on Courthouse Square in Dayton.
She said one of the most common things she hears on the campaign trail is, “Why should I even care?”
People tell her they don’t see how the political and economic system connects with what they are going through in their lives.
The Republican candidates in the Senate race “are not talking about any ideas, not talking about any substance,” Harper said. “But then we as Democrats also need to recognize that people blame, in many ways, their problems on some of us who have been in office, who have upheld this economic system that benefits the ultra-wealthy (and) a few multinationals but isn’t improving the lives of the people around us.”
Changing that requires candidates and agendas that excite people, Harper said.
Credit: Lynn Hulsey
Credit: Lynn Hulsey
She called for improving access to high quality health care by expanding Medicare to everyone, adding dental and vision coverage, improving addiction services and mental health care, requiring a living wage, funding quality pre-K, elimination of student loan debt, as well as debt-free vocational education and expanded Pell grants for college.
Harper supports increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for the new initiatives.
Democrats message should be an acknowledgement “that there hasn’t always been as much progress as maybe we think there should be at the community level, but the way that we change that is not checking out, it’s checking all the way in,” Harper said.
“And also electing leadership that’s going to be laser-focused on getting things done for us. Not so much focused on their careers and taking so much of the corporate money.”
Harper took aim at the redistricting process in Ohio, where the Republican-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission has produced four state legislative maps that the Ohio Supreme Court declared unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor the Republican party. A Republican-produced Congressional district map was thrown out for the same reason and a new one is under court challenge, even as the primary election for those seats will occur on May 3. There is no date set for the legislative race primary.
“What this redistricting process has been, led by the GOP here in Ohio, is an abomination. It is anti-democratic, it is anti-patriotic, it is anti-freedom,” Harper said.
“We have no time to waste because the GOP is looking to strip away our fundamental rights, including the right to vote.”
Spokesman for State Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, who are part of the Republican majority on the redistricting committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
Voters need to elect leaders who support voting rights, Harper said, and the U.S. Supreme Court, now with a super majority of conservatives chosen by Republican presidents, also needs reformed.
She wants to “expand and rebalance” the U.S. Supreme Court to protect voting rights and women’s reproductive rights.
The other Democratic primary candidates are businesswoman Traci “TJ” Johnson of Hilliard and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland Twp. in Trumbull County.
The Republican primary candidates are: State Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, businessman Mike Gibbons of Fairview Park, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel of Beachwood, businessman Neil Patel of Westerville, businessman Mark Pukita of Dublin, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken of Canton and author and businessman J.D. Vance of Cincinnati.
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