Dewine shaking hands with Trump

Why does the Governor not spend for a qualified speech writer or an effective ad agency? Why is he so unfamiliar with either his home state or government policies in other states or the nation?

First, Ohio makes national news, not for DeWine’s “State of the State” redress but for its tacit endorsement of Nazi—not neo-Nazi—indoctrination—as home-schooling in North Sandusky. Neither the parents nor local and state education officials recognize that it is 2023 not 1939.

Of course, this is the state where a sitting Republican member of the state legislature asserted loudly and proudly that “both sides of the Holocaust” must be taught. After all, “only 300,000” Jews were murdered. Home educated herself with no college, Ms. Arthur, formerly a member of the State Board of Education, kept her seat. She was gently scolded but not formally reprimanded by Republican leadership. Of course, she is unable to articulate any “side of the Holocaust.”

Now, Vice News, not Ohio or local media, breaks the story of the family pro-Nazi curriculum and apparent violation of state and local requirements for home schooling households. Local and state leaders apparently see no need to strengthen or enforce regulations.

Those parents are violating the First Amendment of the US Constitution which explicitly prohibits hate speech and calls to violence, the basis of 1920s and 1930s German Nazi ideology, programs, and actions.

Furthermore, they are violating the legally established rights of their own children, far transcending any uncodified extra-legal notion of “parental rights.” They are committing child abuse at home.

Why doesn’t the district school superintendent, the police, the State Board of Education, Yo Yost who passes for Attorney General, or the Governor know this? They claim formal education and the latter two list law degrees but are broadly unfamiliar with US and state constitutions.

And of course, Ohio makes the national news as “the most corrupt state in the US” with the unaccountably delayed Larry Householder and Matt Borges bribery trial treading water in the state’s swamp of a judicial system. Householder’s “lawyers” now assert that they “feel bad vibes” from the judge. This is a standard of legal discourse worthy of the OSU Supreme Court filing against the Title IX regulations on the absence limit of statutes of limitations on the University’s campaign of suppression against at least 600 sexual abuse victims of Dr. Richard Strauss.

As the Householder-Borges trial stops temporarily because one juror tests positive for Covid, the Columbus Dispatch’s Opinion “editor” writes ignorantly and awkwardly, “Our view: Ohio can’t afford to be No. 1 in corruption. State’s integrity is on trial” (Jan. 30, 2023). She can’t say how or why “Ohio can’t afford.” More revealingly, she never mentions the documented patterns of corruption in almost every state agency, and the Lieutenant Governor’s and the Governor’s offices.

Now we have DeWine’s two-year budget promotion for the first part of his second and last term in office. As with his inaugural address earlier in January, he confirms my belief that he does not live in Ohio especially in his empty rhetorical refrains of the state’s alternatively shifting “greatness” or aspirations to always undefined “greatness.” He is not aware of the many reputable rankings that place the state in the bottom one-third to one-fourth among all states (despite the fact that no state department’s data are reliable).

DeWine’s proposals are out of touch and distorted, inappropriate to the shaky and unequal economic, social, and health conditions across the state; the denial of rights to fair access to voting, public health and safety, women, minorities, LBGQT residents, the environment, and so much more. It is blatantly untrue that “It is a budget that focuses on our people, on our families, and on our children, for they are Ohio’s greatest asset. It reflects our obligation to make sure every Ohioan has the tools to succeed, to get a good job, to live their dreams, whatever they may.”

“Tools”? Hammer and nails? Screw driver? Power-drill? Step ladder?

This is unusually contradictory, reality-denying political cant: from banning abortion rights; limiting voting rights; denying gun safety; supporting private rather than public education (unconstitutional “public—i.e., private—vouchers”); refusing to support public and physical health across the state, deal with gross racial inequities, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, or protect the environment.

Along with most people, DeWine does not understand literacy. He seizes on one gross percentage purportedly pertaining to third grade reading, lacking any understanding that reading is only one element in schooling and that “literacy-” whatever is meant by that--can only be understood in specific contexts. It is never an independent factor.

DeWine continues to support private schooling at the expense of public schooling. The rhetoric ignores the fundamental fact that he can’t expand “public vouchers” and EdChoice and fully fund public education. No one in public office in Ohio can do simple arithmetic. This support of inequality permeates his budget. This is right wing, not conservative.

The “mental health” proposals are also largely unspecified political rhetoric. His calls are late and inadequate compared to other states. The reliance on empty slogans rise—and falls—with SOAR, State of Ohio Action for Resiliency. Resiliency? Come on!

The call to end taxation on “critical infant supplies” and finally enact a state tax deduction is late and pales in comparison to other states.

Deeply in need of support, higher education gets short shrift. $300 million for capital improvements for undefined “career tech education” is an insult to the needs of all universities and all students. It continues state destruction of public higher education.

DeWine’s proposal to offer $5,000 annual scholarships to Ohio high school students who graduate in the “top 5% of their class and choose to attend an in-state college of university,” received a “standing ovation” from the legislators. That reveals the government’s gross ignorance.

This is not the broad support of either students or universities that Ohio needs. It is an effort to buy the numerical “elite” graduates with partial tuition rebatements to attempt to keep those most likely to leave the state—for good cause—at home. It ignores and indeed insults all others. It is crude, parochial, partial, and far too limited.

Given national, state, and local policing failures—certainly in Columbus, $40  million per year for officers’ training is an insult to the public.

Calling for an undefined $2.5 billion “to boost infrastructure for economic development sites across the state,” in the wake of the colossal, precedent-setting gift to grifting Intel is like throwing graft at the wall to see what sticks.

Finally, the empty, unknowledgeable words about “affordable housing” further supports my conviction that DeWine does not live in contemporary Ohio.

Of course, will the severely divided Republican caucuses and the handful of Democrats waving their hands in the air without a functional state party pass anything? The Democrats want to “create ladders” and “build pathways,” sounding like it is 1965, not 2023. Perhaps the Great Society has yet to reach Ohio….

Don’t bet on actions other than more limits of human and constitutional rights—although newly allowed sports betting industry will take your money and teenagers’ too.

Does DeWine know this? Does his care? Where does he actually live?


Harvey J. Graff is Professor Emeritus of English and History at The Ohio State University and inaugural Ohio Eminent Scholar in Literacy Studies. Author of many books, he writes about a variety of contemporary and historical topics for Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Academe Blog, Washington Monthly, Publishers Weekly, Against the Current; Columbus Free Press, and newspapers. Searching for Literacy: The Social and Intellectual Origins of Literacy Studies was published by Palgrave Macmillan in August. My Life with Literacy: The Continuing Education of a Historian. The Intersections of the Personal, the Political, the Academic, and Place is forthcoming.