“We The People” in Ohio just had another nail pounded into the casket lid of our “presumed Democracy.” Our constitutional right to pass our own local laws in our communities is now all but disallowed. Over the past two years, we have witnessed that the judicial system has been turned against We The People as they politicize constitutionally-presumed precedents by flipping them in favor of moneyed interests. For two years in a row, the Supreme Court upheld the latest vaporization in the separation of powers by allowing our Secretary of State to cheat We The People. He does this by illegitimately instructing our boards of elections to nix our rights of initiative through refusing their path to the ballot.
Last month, Governor John Kasich signed HB 463 into law that legislatively, and maybe judicially, will seal our fate entirely from being able to insist upon protections in our own communities – from corporate harms, with local wage and work rule laws, and from whatever else captured statehouse shills add to their list. What was muddied in court decisions over the past two years, when defining the ability of residents to create our own county charters that incorporate protections from corporate harms, has now been succinctly defined – any systemic path that We The People in the state of Ohio read in the constitution that rightfully enabled us to change our government, has been vanquished through the new law.
I quote the Ohio Constitution, Article 1: Bill of Rights, Section 2 (being read from a copy that has Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s name on large, fancy document header)
“All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they deem it necessary.”
This constitutional language does not apply to those of us without enough moneyed influence to play their living Monopoly game, thanks to the corporate-state. It has the stench of dark, American Legislative Exchange Council-oriented, anti-real-people power. State governments are the nexus of corporate influence through their regulatory environments in $merica. This is where the Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), their hand-fed, corporate-funded pet anaconda, spend their dough.
Now comes the latest form of billionaire paths-to-profit-extortion through ALEC’s snakelet, the American City County Exchange (ACCE). If you thought billions of dollars could wield power in state government, wait until you see the ludicrous power that billions wield at local city and county government levels. We have had ALEC members in our Ohio statehouse, including ALEC board member Bill Seitz, who just endured his term-limit as senator by switching over to the house. Who do you think pulls Rep. Seitz’s climate-dense, adulterated-Stalin-referencing strings, to fight with vitriol in keeping electric utilities rife with the lethal Ohio fossil-fuels they crave?
ALEC was the brainpower behind Texas legislation in 2015 that demolished the ability of “We The People of Texas” to create their own local control to ban oil/gas development, even though 58 percent of Texan “real people” were in favor of allowing it. The local-democracy-stifling bill was sponsored by Texas state rep. Phil King, who at the time was ALEC’s standing national chairman.
In 2015, twelve counties in Kentucky came dangerously close to passing “right-to-work” ordinances, at the hands of attorney Brent Yessin, who was spearheading the ACCE/Heritage Foundation juggernaut to pass similar local ordinances around the country. Lucky for “We The People of Kentucky,” ten local and international unions sued one of the counties in federal court and kept this worker-rights poison in its box … for now.
Yessin’s prior claim-to-fame was crushing nurses’ unions at hospitals. In her 2012 book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), labor organizer Jane McAlevey chronicled an incident where Yessin added a sexual predator element to the harassment tactics he uses – he followed her into a Las Vegas hospital elevator, where he pinned her to the wall pressing his penis against her, until she screamed continuously.
This is what’s coming to Ohio, and expect it to get Trump-ed up considerably. Democracy is working in the United States … just not for 99 percent of us. We have a “chandelier democracy,” and a more balanced form of “carpet democracy” must be formed – it is our responsibility.
We The People have to demand that our own laws become enacted to correct dysfunctional ones. We must fight in the courts and protest on the streets. The grassroots “silo” effect of focusing on separate missions has to soften, or we will not create the critical mass that is not just needed, but is now required. It is a numbers game – millions of people vs. billions of dollars will be the only equation to put We The People’s power back where it belongs: in charge of our democracy. Without having each others’ backs, we will never create our self-governing nation that presumptuous school curriculums allude that we have. As “real people,” we cannot afford to cling to our myopic comfort zones any longer. We live in a Participatory Representative Democracy. If we don’t use it, we lose it.