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How do we make sense of the current battles within the Democratic Party? Hillary vs. Bernie – and grassroots progressives vs. Boss Bill Anthony, Franklin County Democratic Party Chair, and the corrupt one-party machine in Columbus?

In the case of Sanders, we’re witnessing a critical juncture in U.S. history. Sanders and his followers are single-handedly destroying “American Exceptionalism” – the fact that there is no mass socialist/labor movement defending the rights of working people. The U.S. is now ruled by a corporate capitalist kleptocracy (rule by thieves). Sanders and his activist cohorts are out to stop the looting. Hillary is running as the “realist” candidate who will negotiate with her corporate donors to steal less.

Columbus mirrors the battleover corruption in the national Democratic Party. As Jon Beard, currently running for the Franklin County Democratic Central Committee, puts it: “This Columbus area corruption is like an onion: keep peeling the layers back and it gets more and more stinky. This is what happens when a small group of people sees political power as “theirs” for the exploiting, and not the people’s for serving.”

Many of the people now challenging Boss Anthony come from grassroots progressive organizations seeking to raise worker’s wages, protect the environment, and stop the giant wealthfare checks flowing from Columbus’ coffers to multimillionaires. What is obvious to the insurgent reform movement in the Franklin County Democratic Party is the systemic corruption perpetuated by Democratic Party regulars.

As Beard says, “From recent news reports, it seems pretty ubiquitous – city schools, city government, solid waste authority, convention facilities authority. And this builds ill will toward government and makes good things even harder to do. We have been misled. I have a bad feeling that more and more self-dealing will be revealed over time.”

Consider this: Two people from the Redflex camera company stand convicted of bribing a Columbus public official. The Franklin County Democratic Party’s favorite lobbyist is convicted for the same scandal as well. But – how can any of these people be guilty unless there is an actual bribed Columbus public official?

Meanwhile, our elected Democrats most concerned with the machine’s authoritarian control of the Democratic Party – Sheriff Zachary Scott, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks, and County Recorder Terry Brownn – are now being targeted for defeat in the next election because they refused to bow at the coronation of our new mayor Andy Ginther, the man most likely to be indicted for bribery. What the machine counts on is the “sample ballot” passed out under the Democratic Party tag, and they encourage people to mindlessly vote for the status quo.

But in this primary, voters will have a rare opportunity to overthrow an undemocratic Party boss, since the newly elected Central Committee will pick the next Franklin County Party Chair. So it is incumbent upon voters in the Democratic primary to investigate the backgrounds of the Democratic Central Committee members, call them and visit their houses since they live in your neighborhood, and ask them what they plan to do about the pervasive corruption in the Franklin County Democratic Party.  

Bob Fitrakis is the Green Party candidate for Franklin County Prosecutor and Jon Beard is the Publisher of the Free Press.

NOTE: In an Ohio primary election, voters must declare a political Party affiliation and will be allowed to vote only for members of that Party. This creates the voter’s Party affiliation for the next two years, as officially recorded on the pollbooks at the county Board of Elections and Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Your Party affiliation does not affect your vote in the general election in November, where you are allowed to vote to anyone from any political Party.


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