Destroying Ohio Democracy While Claiming to "Protect the Vote"
Yesterday, former New Hampshire Gov. John E. Sununu caused a stir by saying, while acting as a spokesman for Mitt Romney, “I wish this President would learn how to be an American.”
To today’s Republican, being an “American” clearly means nurturing a deep loathing of our democratic system of government and of encouraging participation by all citizens. They love to wave flags and talk about their deep reverence for the Constitution, but that’s all either hypocrisy or irony.
(See my previous post: http://www.ohiodailyblog.com/content/congresswoman-marcia-fudge-rallies-...)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Ohio Republican Party, as distasteful, corrupt and un-American an institution as exists anywhere. Its sole reason for existing seems to be to cut citizens out of the process as much as possible in as many ways as possible.
Right now, the ORP is freaking out because it looks increasingly like Voters First Ohio — which would bring fair, balanced district drawing to the state — WILL be on the ballot in November. VFO turned in 450,000 signatures — more than the 385,000 required to get on the ballot — by the July 3 deadline. Republicans are frantically working to disqualify as many as possible. VFO is working equally feverishly to collect more to replace them, as allowed by law. I can’t turn around these days without running into a circulator from Voters First Ohio.
The GOP anti-democracy forces have formed a PAC to fight the effort, inviting on board the insiders and lobbyists who benefit from grotesquely tilted districts that disenfranchise citizens across the political spectrum. Its deceptive name is something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984: “Protect Your Vote Ohio.”
It’s aiming to do the exact opposite. Under the current map, it’s virtually impossible to unseat a state representative or senator or a congressperson by making all districts have such a strong partisan lean. So your alleged representative is safe doing the bidding of lobbyists and powerful corporate interests, even when it hurts constituents.
The Dayton Daily News has more:
Those who benefit from the current system — and that’s not you, whether you’re a teabagger or a Kucinich fan — are fighting tooth and nail to protect the outsized edge they gave themselves. The group fighting fair districting includes consultants who were involved in creating the abortion of a current map and doing so behind not just closed but locked doors.
It’s all about secrecy so it’s unsurprising that, according to the DDN,
Campaign Manager Brandon Lynaugh declined Tuesday to comment on the fundraiser and other Protect Your Vote activities.
Yeah, there’s a guy I trust to fight to “protect” my vote.
The DDN also has this sickly hilarious tidbit:
In a press conference across town from the Protect Your Vote event, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett called the proposed citizen redistricting commission a “shadow government” exempt from ethics laws and acting on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party and liberal organizations.
I don’t know why a lightning bolt didn’t strike Bennett. The CURRENT maps were drawn by a “shadow government” that exempted itself from not just ethics laws, but any glimmer of transparency. It skirted the edges of being unconstitutional. And let me remind you — Bennett was the shadowy force behind Ohio’s corrupt 2004 election, which may have reelected an unpopular President, thanks to massive voter suppression in this state.
In 2004, “Mr. Ethics” Bennett was not only ORP chair but also chair of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections — the year that people waited in four, five and six hour lines to vote — if they could. If not, they lost their vote. THIS man is lecturing us on ethics? Please.
Today’s Republican Party is not only out of touch with the electorate, it is actively fighting to harm a majority of citizens. And however cynical you may be about voters, a lot of people are seeing this. Luckily for the GOP and unluckily for everyone else, it’s got the brute force of Citizens United and big corporate money in its back pocket — tools to deceive. It’s playing the same game it played in the attempt to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: first it attempts to keep the issue off the ballot by trying to disqualify signatures. When it fails, it drowns the airwaves in money-driven lies.
When Voters First Ohio makes the ballot, expect to see tens of millions in secretive billionaire money poured into TV ads telling you it’s all an attempt to prevent YOU from having a voice in who’s drawing districts. Remember this: you have NO voice now. None. Nada. Zip. The districts were not drawn by the people you voted for who are legally charged to do so, but by a shadowy team directed by people from Speaker John Boehner’s office. They have no constitutional right to be involved in the process. And they produced a map out of thin air and pushed it to a vote before even members of the legislature really had a chance to study it, let alone the public. That is not democracy.
Also keep this in mind: Under the Voters First Ohio system YOU have the opportunity to be involved in district drawing. Any citizen who is not an officeholder, party official or lobbyist can apply to be on the nonpartisan panel, whose meetings and deliberations are required by the amendment to be public. This completely freaks out the big money interests who cynically carved up Ohio to destroy community voices and create Frankenstein districts that have voters scratching their heads about who represents them.
When the signatures are verified and Voters First Ohio is certified to go on the ballot, the battle will only have begun.