The caption for State Issue 3 on the Nov. 8 general election ballot in Ohio is powerful in its simplicity:
“To preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.”
The proposed constitutional amendment is a direct attack on The Affordable Care Act, derisively referred to by critics as “Obamacare.” But there’s a partisan political aspect to the issue that cannot be ignored. The goal is to bring scores of voters — read that Republicans — to the polls, to not only repudiate Democratic President Barack Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill, but also to cast a “yes” vote for State Issue 2.
Issue 2 is a referendum on Ohio’s new collective bargaining law, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 5.
It is on the ballot because of a highly successful statewide petition drive launched by the labor unions, led by those representing public employees, and their Democratic Party allies. Their goal: To stop the new law from taking effect.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly rammed through SB 5 as part of their push to reduce the cost of government at all levels. The companion legislation was the state’s biennium budget which contained major reductions in funding for local governments.
Kasich and his GOP colleagues contend that the current collective bargaining law, which has been on the books since 1983, is archaic and impractical.
The public employee unions, which represent more than 300,000 employees, counter that SB 5 is nothing more than an attack on police officers, firefighters and teachers, in particular, with the goal of stripping them of many of their workplace rights.
The opponents of SB 5 warn that if voters uphold the new collective bargaining law, the next step will be for the governor and the General Assembly to attempt to make Ohio a right-to-work state.
The battle of the ballot box isn’t won by the campaigns waged, but by the turnout on Election Day.
The more than 1 million Ohioans who signed the petitions to put SB 5 on the ballot was a shot across the Republican bow.
State Issue 3, the campaign to block The Affordable Act in Ohio, is a response to the union juggernaut.
There’s nothing like a kick-in-the-groin social issue to get Republicans’ blood boiling.
Consider the language used by proponents of State Issue 3:
“Protect your health care freedom, preserve your right to choose your doctor and health insurance, and keep government out of your personal medical decisions.”
Without health care freedom, they contend, government can do the following to you: Force you to purchase costly government-defined health insurance; make you pay more to upgrade your existing health insurance to meet government requirements; force you to disclose private medical information; prohibit you from obtaining private medical treatment.
The tactic to scare Ohioans into going to the polls worked in 2004 (Beware the gays!) and will work this November (Beware the death panels!)
In the 2004 general election, Republican President George W. Bush was challenged by Democrat John Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. The economy was in shambles and Bush’s popularity was sinking. There was concern that Ohio, a battleground state, would go for Kerry if the GOP faithful didn’t show up.
Enter the so-called marriage amendment.
It was State Issue 1 on the ballot, and here’s how the caption read: “Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”
The proponents of the marriage amendment beat the bushes for voters who had never gone to the polls before.
The result: Issue 1 received 3,329,335 in favor; 2,065,462 against.
Bush won Ohio, receiving 2,859,768 votes to 2,741,167 votes for Kerry.
Is there any doubt that the then president’s margin of victory was the result of a slew of conservative voters going to the polls to vote for State Issue 1?