Ohio Democrats Slap Down GOP Attack On Democracy

Posting something daily can be a bit of a drag, sometimes. I recently decided to increase my non-blog workload, and I’m still adjusting to it, which means that posting daily suddenly feels like more effort, because it’s now on top of other stuff. It’s also more than a little depressing to write about stuff in the news, because there always seems to be more bad than good. I think that’s largely because things are getting worse in a number of very real ways, but some of it could well be that bad news sells better. Some of it, for me, is also that bad news feels easier to write about. Good news is nice, and all, but in my life, I’ve rarely encountered good news that meant that an existing problem was actually solved. Maybe that’s just how things work, though – there will always be people trying to make the world worse for their personal benefit, so we’ll always have to fight to keep the good things that we have. It’s a tiring vision of the future, but I guess the goal is to have tomorrow’s fights be easier, and backed up by yesterday’s victories. In a lot of ways, that’s what a “victory” is – something that makes the next fight a little easier, even if all you did was prevent an opponent from making it harder. Case in point, the Democratic Party’s recent big win in Ohio:

Ohio voters on Tuesday decisively rejected a Republican-authored measure that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution through the ballot initiative process, a billionaire-funded effort aimed at preempting a November vote on abortion rights.

If approved by voters, the measure known as Issue 1 would have raised the threshold for passage of a constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60%. The measure also would have imposed more stringent signature requirements for Ohio ballot initiatives.

The GOP proposal—which was the only item on the ballot in Tuesday’s special election—failed by a vote of 43% to 57%, according to the Ohio secretary of state’s office.

“Issue 1 was a blatant attempt by its supporters to control both the policy agenda and the process of direct democracy,” said Rachael Belz, the CEO of Ohio Citizen Action, one of the groups that mobilized in opposition to the proposal. “When they forced Issue 1 onto the ballot, they awakened a sleeping giant and unleashed a movement. And that movement isn’t going away tomorrow. It will continue to build and grow and to carry us through to victories in November and beyond.”

The Republican push for Issue 1 drew national attention given the implications for both the democratic process and reproductive rights in Ohio, where abortion is currently legal through 22 weeks of pregnancy—though the state GOP is working to change that.

A proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in November would codify the right to abortion access in the Ohio constitution, stating that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”

Frank LaRose, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state and a U.S. Senate hopeful, said in June that Issue 1 was ” 100% about” preventing passage of the abortion rights amendment.

Recent polling indicates that around 58% of Ohioans back the proposed amendment—a level of support that would have been insufficient had Issue 1 succeeded.

“From defeating Issue 1 tonight to submitting nearly twice the amount of signatures needed to get a measure protecting abortion access on the ballot in November, Ohio voters have made clear that they will settle for nothing less than reproductive freedom for all,” Mini Timmaraju, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement late Tuesday.

“Republicans should be ashamed of their efforts to subvert the will of voters,” Timmaraju added. “Seeing this measure defeated is a victory for our fundamental rights and our democracy. We’re grateful to our partners on the ground for their tireless efforts to secure abortion rights and access. We look forward to fighting by their side to lock this fundamental freedom into law in November.”

I look forward to seeing that result, but I’m not gonna hold my breath while I wait for Republicans to develop the ability to feel shame. The Democratic Party has been kicking the can down the road on abortion rights for decades, using it as a fundraising issue, and then refusing to actually codify those rights into federal law. When it comes to the kind of good news I mentioned, probably the biggest bit of that, for the US, has been the way Democrats at the state level have apparently been moved to actual action by the conservative takeover of the Supreme Court. The battle’s far from over, but it seems that there are a growing number of Democrats who are no longer afraid of wielding power for progressive causes, and it’s nice to see. As the Majority Report says, this is a huge win for Democracy in Ohio:



  1. nifty says

    With the margin of victory and the broad geographic area of the no votes, it wasn’t just democrats. Even some republicans resented the obvious anti-democracy aspects of the initiative.

  2. says

    Reading this comment on the dashboard, my brain decided to incorporate your name into the sentence. “With a nifty margin of victory…”

    But yeah – the Democratic Party doesn’t have a monopoly on valuing democracy, and that’s a good thing.

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