Guy who funded Issue 1

Issue 1, to be voted on August 8th, wants to raise the number of votes required for citizen-initiated Ohio Constitutional amendments (the ones people bother you about in the Kroger parking lot) to pass from a simple majority (50% + 1) to 60%.

Pushed by right-wing government officials scared of being held accountable for their actions, this is a direct attack against democracy in Ohio. It will give even more power to an increasingly authoritarian and out-of-touch Statehouse. Proponents claim Issue 1 will end outside special interest influence on Ohio’s Constitution, yet Illinois billionaire and 2020 election denier Richard Uihlein has donated $1 million to pass Issue 1. If Issue 1 were to pass, democracy in Ohio would be dead.

Democracy – true democracy – is based on majority rule. While this has never been really fulfilled in America, we at least had opportunities for the majority of Ohioans to come together, agree something should be changed, and change it. Regardless of how disconnected the statehouse is, already thoroughly unrepresentative of the general population, the opportunity for direct democracy allowed citizens to completely represent themselves. This is one of the greatest political freedoms in the Ohio Constitution – a freedom not won in many other states. Regardless of how much our institutions fail us, something they seem to be doing more and more lately, Ohioans have a chance to act for ourselves and secure our own rights.

If Issue 1 passes, this will be no more, and these freedoms will be gone.

Instead, Ohio will further submit itself to minority rule, becoming a state where fewer and fewer people have true political power over their lives, and those with money ultimately determine the freedoms of everyone else. If Issue 1 passes, a select few will have absolute power in both the statehouse and Ohio’s Constitutional amendment process: the majority of Ohioans will be left out in the cold. If the majority wants change after Issue 1, they will have to either work within a gerrymandered, half-appointed state legislature that is more loyal to downtown Columbus bars than their constituents, or they have to pass amendments where as little as 5% of the voting population can determine elections. Those working against ballot amendments will no longer have to convince the majority of Ohioans to win, they will only have to mobilize enough “no” voters to make that 10% additional margin absolutely impossible to cross. That isn’t democracy. Ohio’s oligarchy of the rich and powerful would be totally complete.

Beyond being inherently undemocratic in form, Issue 1 is undemocratic in principle as it attacks a core belief necessary for a democratic society to survive: faith that the people in power are doing the right thing. With as thoroughly an unrepresentative body as the state legislature, how can Ohioans have faith that leaders are doing the right thing? When they join the majority of Ohioans to protect abortion access this November and are instead told that the 44% of Ohioans that said no actually get to decide what’s right or wrong, how will they have any faith in government or democracy? Why would they show up to the next election? What would be the point? We already hear this reason to be apolitical all too often. If Issue 1 passes, these people would actually start having a really good point.

This is exactly how democracy dies and authoritarianism is born. What happens when the majority of Ohioans don’t even try to engage with the regular functions of government? What happens when that government completely abandons the majority of citizens and begins to only serve a select few? When this begins, how will the majority of Ohioans enact political change?

The systems of “regular” or “legitimate” government will have abandoned them.

What exactly do Issue 1 supporters expect people to do when this happens? Lie down, roll over, and submit to their rule? Defeating Issue 1 is the last chance for democracy in Ohio. If it passes, democracy will be dead, and we all are going to have to figure out what to do next.

Are we really going to live in an oligarchic state?