The conclusion that Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission do not want Ohio voters to enjoy free and fair elections is unavoidable.
They want to rig the game to enshrine their power and will stop at nothing to do exactly that.
They will vote down proportional maps. They will throw primary elections into chaos and refuse to do anything to alleviate the chaos they created, because manufacturing a primary date crisis is part of their legal strategy.
They will argue they have no obligation to produce a congressional map that does not unduly favor their party, and then they will play the role of victim, pretending it’s beyond question how good faith their intentions have been.
They will argue with a straight face that a 10-3 congressional map with two toss-ups is not gerrymandering in a 54/46 state.
They will argue that Statehouse maps that make nearly half of Democratic seats competitive toss-ups and zero Republican seats competitive do not unduly favor their party.
They will claim to be receptive to amendments to make maps better and then shoot down those amendments in partisan 5-2 votes.
They do not respect the anti-gerrymandering reform more than 71% and nearly 75% of voters amended the Ohio Constitution to enact in 2015 and 2018, and they do not respect the Ohio Supreme Court’s authority to enforce that constitution.
Their fundamental position seems to be: We are allowed to do what we want. We are allowed to cheat voters. We are allowed to rig elections for ourselves. We are allowed to ignore the constitution to keep our illegitimate, outsized grip on power, and anybody who doesn’t like it can go eat rocks.
They seem to want to create the primary date crisis in an attempt to force the Ohio Supreme Court to either accept their gerrymandered maps or select maps that they can then appeal to a federal court judge. They don’t seem to be aware how loathe all federal judges are to overturn a state supreme court decision, including firebrand conservative federal judges.
I’ve rarely been so disgusted by such an ignominious, brazen display of absolute contempt for Americans’ fundamental freedom to fair elections.
Of course, contempt for free and fair elections appears to be de rigueur for Trumpian Republicanism in 21st Century America.
In keeping with this current fashion, these Ohio Republicans are full-throttle anti-democracy.
As lawyerly sophists are wont to do, they attempt to catch the conversation up in minutia. They attempt to obfuscate their true intentions with pedantic deconstructions of arcane legalese.
They’re not actually trying to rig elections to their favor, they ask us to believe, dripping with condescension. They’re high-minded constitutionalists.
Pay no attention to the clearly rigged maps we keep passing; instead listen to us wax eloquent on our solemn commitment to the strict letter of the law — as we continue to produce map after map that openly rigs elections to our favor and vote down any amendment to undo that rigging.
Somehow, they think what they’re doing is clever.
It’s not clever. It’s bullshit.
It’s transparently a gigantic, steaming pile of absolute bullshit.
The simple, clear truth remains that this has been a pathetic charade of bad faith on their part from the beginning.
To them, it’s always been a game of, “What can we get away with?”
They persist in being a disgrace to themselves and all Ohioans.
Ohio Capital Journal Editor-in-Chief David DeWitt has more than 15 years experience covering Ohio government, politics and policy, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and Plunderbund.com. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt.
This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.
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