With no gays to bash, no women to condemn over abortion, no senior citizens, blacks and young people to pester at the polling places, what will the Ohio Republican Party do to bring out its faithful in November?
In all likelihood, there will be only two statewide issues on the Nov. 6 ballot: one, to hold a constitutional convention; the other, to change the method by which Ohio’s congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. The first is politically innocuous; the second is proposed by a coalition of grass-roots organizations and pro-Democratic Party entities, including labor unions.
There were attempts by Republicans to push through measures dealing with abortion (the so-called heartbeat bill) and voting (the photo-ID law), but their plans fell by the wayside.
In retrospect, the GOP would have been far better off saving for this year the health-care constitutional amendment that was passed last November.
By a strong majority — 66.4 percent — Ohioans rejected the Affordable Care Act, whiningly called Obamacare by Republicans, through the passage of State Issue 3. Although it was widely agreed that the amendment would not pass muster in the U.S. Supreme Court, the people of Ohio were satisfied with just sending a message to President Obama and Democrats in Congress.
Issue 3 exempted Ohioans from the mandates contained in the ACA. In other words, individuals could not be compelled to buy health insurance, or their employers to provide it.
The Republicans put the issue on last November’s ballot in response to the referendum sought by the Democrats on Senate Bill 5, the collective-bargaining reform law pushed through by Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican majority in the General Assembly.
Public employee unions, along with their private sector counterparts and the Ohio Democratic Party, joined forces to block the enactment of the law. They were successful — despite the attempt by the GOP to portray public employees as greedy and out of touch with reality.
The health-care constitutional amendment would have been ideal for this year’s presidential election, but the GOP wanted to ensure that its voters came out in force in the last general election.
As a result, the presidential ballot this year will be devoid of any controversial issues that could trigger the kind of Republican reaction that occurred in the 2004 presidential election when Democrat John Kerry was challenging President George W. Bush.
Bush’s political guru, Karl Rove, came up with an 11-state strategy designed to ensure a huge turnout. Knowing that gay marriage was red meat for conservatives, Rove engineered marriage amendments on the general election ballots in the battlegrounds, including Ohio.
The amendment defined marriage as between a man and a woman, with the underlying message being that those states that did not protect themselves would be flooded by gays looking to take advantage of civil marriage laws.
Bush’s victory in the Buckeye State was due, in large part, to Republicans being scared into thinking that Ohio was under attack by gays. Exit polls showed many first-time voters participated.
So, what will the Ohio GOP come up with this year to ensure a turnout to neutralize President Obama’s incumbency advantage?
And what will the Democrats do to overcome the widespread negative view of the Affordable Care Act?
The constitutional amendment dealing with the drawing of congressional and legislative district boundaries doesn’t have the drawing power of the collective-bargaining law or gay marriage.
In the words of Shakespeare (Bubba, not William), “That dog don’t hunt.”
The GOP will portray “Obamacare” as socialized medicine and resurrect the farcical death panels.
But Democrats have just as powerful a political weapon: China. The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romey, is being directly tied to the offshoring of American jobs to China, India and other low-wage countries. A credible national news story in Mother Jones magazine revealed that a company Romney once headed made a deal with a Chinese appliance manufacturer that resulted in American jobs being shipped overseas. There’s an Ohio connection to the fallout that Democrats could use against the Republicans.