One of the biggest clichés you hear when people are upset by the actions of elected officials is “Elections have consequences.”
But they do, and Ohio is set to see some terrible ones following the November 6 election when the state turned over absolute power in all branches of government to far-right radical Republicans. We’re going to see a wave of extremist policies and legislation non-stop for the next four years — and we can do virtually nothing about it.
The votes were barely tallied when Ohio’s legislature went into its lame duck session. Drunk with power after the total Republican sweep, it focused on slamming through radical legislation on its two favorite issues: guns and abortion.
Ohioans may care about things like funding schools adequately and equitably, creating more living-wage jobs, making taxes fairer instead of shoving them off on ordinary working people, repairing the state’s crumbling infrastructure and making sure everyone has access to affordable health care. But Ohio’s elected Republicans mostly care about making guns more accessible and abortion less so. Hey…. it’s all about LIFE!
No, it’s not. Once again, the state House last week slammed through the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, usually about six weeks, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant and certainly without enough time to decide what she wants to do, make arrangements and gather the resources. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or the woman’s health, which means women will die. It took no time to consider — and once again voted down — amendments to provide for struggling families dealing with a child they can’t afford. It’s never been about “unborn babies,” but about punishing those promiscuous jezebels and never mind that the child suffers the most.
Continuing to show their alleged regard for “life,” the state House also slammed through one of the most extreme versions of the deeply unpopular (law enforcement groups testified against it) “Stand Your Ground” law. It allows people to shoot to kill anyone they find threatening, with no obligation to simply remove themselves from the area. Some call it the “Kill at Will Bill.”
With the latest incident police being called on a black person minding his own business in a Seattle-area Menchie’s, you can see where this will lead. Cleveland state representative Stephanie Howse certainly did when she got up on the floor of the House to talk about its potential impact on the black population of her district. House Speaker Ryan Smith provided a vivid lesson in just how much contempt his caucus has for the people of Ohio when he cut off her microphone, ruling her out of order.
Will Governor Kasich veto these bills? Sure, he might, to continue to maintain his “moderate” façade until the ink is dry on his seven-figure pundit contract (no, he can’t run for president, given the extremism of today’s GOP base). But Mike DeWine takes office in January. He’s already said he’ll sign the “Heartbeat” bill and he’d likely sign “Stand Your Ground” as well.
This is just the beginning of the horrors we’ll be seeing from an unresponsive, uncaring Republican-dominated legislature, exacerbated by 100% control of statewide offices. (Two Democrats on the state supreme court don’t outweigh five Republicans). Already on their agenda is a new version of the anti-union SB5, along with a bill to make ballot initiatives, such as the one that overturned it in 2009, more difficult — to make sure that Ohio’s citizens are helpless to stop the onslaught of legislation most oppose.
All of this will have big consequences for Ohio. A state that opposes women’s rights (and LGBTQ rights, another area where progress has likely come to a screeching halt), while giving unfettered rights to gun users, won’t attract businesses and educated, talented, entrepreneurial people. It will repel young people, driving still more of them out of state once they graduate from college. The impact of that on the state’s economy could be enormous.
Ohio Republicans have shown they don’t care what’s good for the state and what its people want. Gerrymandering has protected their seats for a long time, and they feel they can afford to be contemptuous of the needs of constituents. Now, with Republicans in total control of statewide offices, it’s more likely they’ll use every trick they can muster and every loophole they can exploit in the state’s new redistricting laws to continue this destructive and unfair advantage for another decade.
Elections have consequences indeed.