The outcome of the Nov. 8 General Election both answered some important questions and raised another that is equally significant.
Let’s first take a look at what we learned:
Sorry, Governor, but 49 percent is not a mandate, especially when you’re trying to do something as foolish as attacking people Ohioans respect: first Responders, teachers, social workers, corrections officers, and the other middle class workers who make sure that our public entities and institutions function every day. Even Republicans understood that Senate Bill 5 was fundamentally unfair. (I’ll resist the temptation to call it just plain stupid.) It was defeated in 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Labor and Democrats turned out. More than 3.5 million Ohioans voted on Nov. 8, that’s 300,000 more than voted on the casino issue in 2009, 500,000 more than voted on five statewide issues in 2005, and nearly one million more than voted in either 2007 or 2003. I’d personally like to thank the governor, the GOP majorities in the House and Senate, the tea party, and the Chamber of Commerce for the warm-up game. We’re fired up and ready for 2012.
Voters weren’t fooled
Turns out the voters aren’t as dumb as the GOP thought. They never bought the argument that eviscerating collective bargaining would solve the state’s budget problems. Most of them understood that the last thing we need is take more money out of the pockets of the middle class workers who fuel our economy. That’s why it was easy for our side to find small businesspeople who opposed Issue 2.
Republicans appear to be slow learners. Days after the wheels were taken off of Gov. Kasich’s “bus” by the voters, a group shows up with an even dumber idea than Senate Bill 5: a right to work (for less) amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Gov. Kasich and the crew need to find a medium and ask the spirit of the late John Bricker how that worked out for the GOP the last time they tried it.
There’s a lot of speculation about what the passage of Issue 3 — the ludicrous attack on health care reform — means. The answer in one word: nothing — which represents how much money the “no” side spent fighting the issue. That’s because labor and the Democrats knew the U.S. Supreme Court — and only the U.S. Supreme Court — will determine the ultimate fate of the reform legislation. It’s a fight we just didn’t have to make, but we certainly hope the tea partiers enjoy their hollow, short-lived victory.
The great unknown
Here’s one thing we don’t know for sure: Will the activism and ire that drove the campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5 transfer into votes for President Obama and Democratic candidates for Congress and the General Assembly? I’m betting the answer is yes, for a couple of reasons.
First, because some people who voted for Kasich last year got run over by his “bus.” In my experience police officers, firefighters, and teachers have long memories — they’re not going to forget who put the tire tracks on their backs. And second, because I just don’t think the governor and his crew will be able to restrain themselves from pursuing the right-wing agenda that got them in trouble in the first place.
David Betras is an attorney and chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.