I’ve been asked to speculate on what 2012 will look like from a partisan political view. How’s thermonuclear war sound?
I’m not exaggerating. The nation’s two major parties are at loggerheads over a vast array of important public policy issues. In Washington the GOP has been focused on one goal from the moment President Barack Obama finished taking the oath of office: defeating him.
To that end, Republicans opposed health care reform, legislation that forces Wall Street fat cats to treat Main Street families fairly, investments in infrastructure, renewable energy, and education that would have revitalized our economy, and the payroll tax cuts and extension of unemployment benefits working families desperately needed and deserved.
They even tried to scuttle the president’s plan to save GM and Chrysler — a plan that’s kept thousands of Ohioans working, including the members of UAW Locals 1112 and 1114 who are building the incredibly successful Cruze at Lordstown. Clearly they have placed their partisan political goals ahead of working with the administration to create jobs and restore the American Dream.
In Columbus, Gov. John Kasich and his cohorts in the General Assembly are continuing to chip away at basic principles Ohioans hold dear. Seemingly unaffected by the humiliating defeat they suffered in November when voters overwhelmingly rejected Senate Bill 5, they have set their sights on open government and democracy. The governor’s scheme to privatize the state’s economic development efforts remains shrouded in secrecy. The one thing we know for sure is that the Kasich cronies who are running the thing have the only good jobs it’s generated.
Secrecy was the also the watchword for the totally undemocratic process that was used to draw the state’s new congressional and General Assembly districts. Worked up by GOP operatives stashed away in a taxpayer-funded Columbus suite and bearing the nicotine-stained fingerprints of John Boehner, the gerrymandered mess that emerged is an affront to the Voting Rights Act and common decency. It is designed to do one thing: rob Ohioans of the opportunity to vote out the bums who are mangling our state and nation.
Add to these basic policy differences the billions — yes, that’s billions — of dollars corporations will spend to buy the White House, Congress, and the General Assembly and you have a scenario for all-out political warfare that will be unlike anything we have experienced before. Corporations, now deemed people by the right-wing ideologues on the U.S. Supreme Court, will run hundreds of negative ads against President Obama, Sen. Sherrod Brown, and anyone else who has had the gall to hold them accountable for their actions.
Newt Gingrich can tell you how Mitt Romney’s dad knifed him in Iowa with such ads. If business and the GOP establishment will do that to one of their own, it isn’t hard to imagine what they’ll try to do to Democrats. Fortunately, we’re preparing for the onslaught of untraceable corporate dollars. We’re ready to tell the truth about the Republicans, their agenda, and who is really driving the bus that threatens to leave tire tracks on the backs of America’s working families
David Betras is an attorney and chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.