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Ohio Republicans attacking voters seem to believe citizens are stupid, ignorant, and over-emotional




Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, speaks with reporters in the Senate Chamber at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

You should know how little Ohio Statehouse politicians think of you, the constituents they were ostensibly elected to represent in Columbus. Hate to break it to you, but the pols running the legislature dismiss you as stupid, confused, and prone to emotion.

We simpleminded citizens are incompetent to govern ourselves. We can’t be trusted to understand the issues or act in our best interests or have the freedom to check the power of our state government. We don’t know what we want. Too ignorant.

A majority of us might get carried away with our inherent democratic right to change or create our own laws through ballot initiatives most Ohioans support. Our unchecked lawmakers in the General Assembly can’t let that happen. They can’t allow unworthy peasants to circumvent their authoritarian agenda of denying abortion access, fair voting districts, commonsense gun reform, etc.

“We don’t want a temporary emotion of a majority to change or take away folks rights,” snorted Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman. “That happens all the time — it’s called the tyranny of the majority.”

The breathtaking arrogance of the Lima Republican ruling the state with an iron-fist never ceases to amaze.

Huffman is steamrollering a GOP plan (passed in the Senate and awaiting parallel results in the Ohio House) to make it all but impossible for us peasants to amend our state constitution through citizen initiative. His scheme is to quickly change the rules of the game and steal our power to sidestep arrogant pols like him.

Team Huffman vows to sabotage our chance to pass a reproductive rights amendment in November by sneaking through a legislative initiative in August that abruptly raises the threshold for passage of a constitutional amendment from 50% plus one (since 1851) to a 60% supermajority.

A majority vote of Ohioans will no longer be sufficient to amend the constitution after a century of doing so without objection. To ensure defeat even before a vote, Republicans added punishing new burdens on the signature-gathering requirements to qualify for the ballot.

They aim to stop citizen initiatives from ever advancing to the polls. Abolishing our self-determination is for our own good, the partisans insist. Huffman embodies the tyranny he absurdly projects on Ohio voters in the majority who believe women should have autonomy over their bodies.

He and the supermajority gang of gerrymandered Republicans in both legislative chambers are jamming their extreme ideology down our throats — with draconian abortion bans, lawless gerrymandering, permitless concealed carry, universal vouchers, anti-trans bills and more — and taking away our ability to dissent.

Their minority views do not represent the majority beliefs of voters and they know it. They’re afraid of us challenging their control at the polls. They’re afraid of Ohio women demanding their dignity as a constitutional right.

So they conspire to subvert the last vestige of direct democracy in the state, the power of the people to approve popular constitutional amendments with hard-won citizen initiatives. Huffman reveals his true colors with his dripping condescension of Ohioans he purports to serve.

When he derides the “temporary emotion of a majority” his misogyny is on full display. Women voters pushing for abortion access in Ohio are too emotional to count. Will Huffman go after our franchise next to keep us in our place?

The only one taking “away folks rights,” — e.g., the right of women to make their own medical decisions, the right of voters to choose their elected representatives instead of the other way around, the right to a “thorough and efficient system of common schools” in Ohio, the right to live without fear of epidemic gun violence — is Huffman.

His Senate resolution making it tougher to pass a citizen-led constitutional amendment (along with a dodgy bill to hold a statewide vote in a summertime election with minimal turnout) is simply about maintaining supremacy. He alone will dictate the dystopian direction of the state.

We childlike citizens need to do as we’re told by those who know best. We must relinquish our century-old right to decide how we are governed to unaccountable autocrats consumed with our subjugation.

“The greater good here is that we give some predictability and stability to focus on what the Constitution is going to say,” quipped the Senate kingpin who thumbed his nose at what it said about extreme partisan gerrymandering.

The “greater good” Huffman sardonically slips in his anti-voter snow job is whatever benefits the ruling juggernaut of white, male, Christian nationalists in the Statehouse and cements their  dominion over the unenlightened masses. If left to their democratic ways of self-governance, citizens like us could exert ultimate political power over Statehouse tyrants like Huffman.

Which explains his hurry to preserve the “predictability and stability” of his personal autocracy with a major change to the constitution (snuck on a low-turnout ballot) that erodes our right to amend it. He is saving us from ourselves because we can’t be trusted with power.

That’s how little Huffman and his right-wing cohorts think of you.

Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.

This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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