Frustration ran rampant in Ohio throughout 2018


Columbus Dispatch: The Dispatch Editorial Board is no different from many other commentators in one respect: We found 2018 to be a pretty tough year. Vicious politics, chaotic presidential behavior, gridlock in Congress, unrelenting gun violence and a midterm-election slog filled with lies and foolishness make us not too sorry to see the last of it.

Fortunately, there’s plenty to give us hope for a better 2019 and beyond.

We called for more transparency and better public oversight of how Ohio’s Medicaid program allows pharmacy-benefit managers to influence drug prices. We cheered the long-overdue passage of a bill to curb gerrymandering in drawing Statehouse and congressional district boundaries but decried a political fight among House Republicans that brought Statehouse business to a standstill for two months.

We used these pages a number of times to lament shrill ideology and ask candidates of all stripes to campaign with reasoned arguments, as well as urge readers to consider the source and credibility of what they hear and read.

After the February filing deadline for May’s primary election, we celebrated the crowded ballot and urged voters to study up and vote, writing on Feb. 12, “Just don’t be absent; this is a group project, and Ohio needs everyone’s participation.”

On May 13, with general-election candidates in place, we again expressed hope for honorable behavior, saying, “From this group, Ohioans deserve high-road campaigns.”

That apparently was too much to hope for, especially in the national battle for control of Congress. In September, we called out blatant lies in campaign ads and took special exception to those that misrepresented what Dispatch news stories had said.

By Oct. 28, we had thrown up our hands, declaring 2018 “surely the most degraded campaign season in American history” and imploring voters not to be taken in by ads designed to make them afraid, and doing so based on lies.

The cure for bad government and nasty politics is to vote for better, and on July 13 we gladly proclaimed, “It just became easier to stay registered to vote in Ohio,” with Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to automatically renew the registrations of people who renew driver’s licenses or state ID cards without changing their addresses.

Along with redistricting reform, another of the General Assembly’s best days came in July when, after a decade of delay, lawmakers finally came together to pass the Fairness in Lending Act to rein in the abusive practices of payday lenders.

FRUSTRATIONS WITH TRUMP

Regular readers know that we are frustrated by many aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency — his reckless disregard for experience and expertise, his crude manner of expression, his admiration for tyrants and disdain for democratic world leaders, and his disregard for First Amendment rights — for individuals and for the press — and constitutional limits on his power.

On June 17, we asked how many Trump missteps the country can tolerate and called Republicans’ lack of pushback “a threat to democracy.”

America’s epidemic of gun violence took no holiday in 2018. Some of the worst incidents prompted us to renew our call for modest gun restrictions such as a “red flag” law allowing a court to temporarily take firearms away from people who have been judged a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness. We appreciated Gov. John Kasich’s turn toward favoring sensible gun regulation.

Too close to home, a felon who should not have been in possession of a firearm was arrested and charged with killing two Westerville police officers, Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, when they responded to a domestic-violence call on Feb. 10. We mourned their loss and called for better ways to prevent and respond to domestic violence.

On Feb. 20, we noted the youth-led movement for more gun control led by survivors of the Parkland shootings and said, “We hope this movement will ... counter the voices of those who don’t think America has a problem with guns.”

Nor did 2018 bring Ohio much closer to fixing challenges of overall school funding, oversight of charter schools or moving ahead with meaningful standards for high-school graduation. That the troubled Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow was finally shuttered at least closed the spigot of state funds flowing to it, but it also hampered the state’s ability to claw back about $80 million the school unlawfully received. We called in August for legislators to craft a better system for funding charter schools in Ohio, and we’re still waiting.

Bring on 2019.

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