Chaos in Columbus T shirt

The Free Press has written before that a short drive past I-270 might as well be driving to Mars when it comes to political beliefs and ideology.

London, Ohio in neighboring Madison County – just 15-minutes past Columbus – is one of those planets, er, towns.

The decline of small town Ohio is well-documented. Good paying jobs have vanished, drug addiction has sent too many kids into foster care, and the obsession for MAGA refuses to wane.

London is a community of roughly 10,000, but because it is so close to Columbus small numbers from the big city are moving there seeking affordable housing. The locals can be friendly, but simmering below the surface is rural Ohio’s anger towards the lefty oasis that is Columbus. Trump in 2020 won 70 percent of the vote in Madison County while Columbus went 65 percent for Biden, and with hundreds of thousands more votes.

London is within Ohio’s 15th Congressional district, which also includes a big swath of Upper Arlington. A district gerrymandered in secret by the Ohio GOP in 2011, which is the focus of a recent Free Press article. The 15th is keeping the “Q” dream alive apparently, as it overwhelmingly voted for Trump-endorsed Mike Carey in a recent special primary after Steve Stivers (R) vacated. The former coal executive Carey will easily defeat Allison Russo (D) in next year’s general election.

The hate some of rural Ohio gives has an influence on Columbus that can’t be readily seen. But the above picture of a tee shirt witnessed in London explains a whole lot (“Chaos in Columbus”…“Looting & Scooting”…“2020 Riots”).

The Free Press learned 400 of these shirts were made and sold by a Columbus police officer – who resides in Madison County. Recall how 3 out 4 Columbus police officers don’t actually live in the city they are sworn to protect, even though city taxpayers pay police $100,000 after four years of service, which apparently is not enough to convince them to act professional either.

The shirt and its message is mildly reminiscent of a shirt printed by Staten Island police before they killed Eric Garner in 2014 who was selling tax-free smokes. Their tee shirt quoted Ernest Hemmingway: “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

There might be a silver lining for those Democrats in rural Ohio besieged by MAGA. Trump has woke (no pun intended) up rural Ohio Dems and progressives. Licking County Dems, our neighbor to the east, told the Free Press they can’t recall a Presidential Election where their voters and new voters were so fired up.

Anne Gorman, Chair of the Madison County Democrats, says before she took the position in 2018 there wasn’t much organization or a push to get people to the meetings.

“Everybody would make jokes, which included me, ‘What do you mean there are Democrats in Madison County? I didn’t know anything about them?’” says Gorman.

There may be more Dems in Madison County than MAGA would ever want to believe.

“The count says there are 5,000 registered Republicans and 2,000 registered Democrats, but about something ridiculous like 18,000 registered Independents,” Gorman says. “But the problem with that is, that’s misleading because if there is never anybody to run against a Republican nobody ever has to go to a primary and vote, and they don’t have to declare their party. Yes, I do think there is a whole lot more Republicans in that Independent list, but yeah, there are Democrats too and people who can be swayed.”