For over a year now Ohio’s Tea Partyers at the Ohio Liberty Council have been trying, with limited success, to gather enough signatures for a ballot initiative to “repeal” federal health care reform legislation in Ohio by amending the Ohio constitution.

Despite their best efforts, the Ohio Liberty Council has had a hell of a time getting enough Ohio voters to sign their petitions for the proposed amendment. They’ve been working on it since last spring and I’ve seen them at tons of public events with their crazy “STOP FORCED HEALTH CARE” banners. County fairs. Local festivals. They even showed up at Race for the Cure in Columbus – an event to raise money for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment – and were promptly booed and scolded by cancer victims and their families/friends.

Support for this ballot intiative has been weak and focused mainly on the right-wing fringe, and yet Ohio’s Republicans have decided it’s now in their best interest to help the Tea Party folks get this thing on the ballot.

In March, Senator Grendell introduced a joint resolution in the Senate (SJR1) that is nearly identical to the initiative being pushed by the Tea Party groups. On Thursday, the Senate passed the resolution.

While I completely disagree with the Ohio Liberty Council’s philosophy and their goals, at least they appear to be working toward a cause they believe in. The same does not appear to be true for Ohio’s Republicans. For nearly a year the GOP ignored the Tea Party activists and their health care ballot initiative. And now, suddenly, when it’s in their best interest, Republicans are all fired up about working with the Tea Party?

Ohio’s Republican legislators are again simply trying co-opt the Tea Party’s anti-“obamacare” legislation in an entirely political and amazingly obvious play to help excite right-wing, tea-party, anti-union voters to come out in November.

As Modern has already pointed out, “a state’s constitution cannot overturn already existing federal law” according to the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause, so this proposed ammendment is absolutely unconstitutional. Moreover, Grendell and the Senators who support the bill are undeniably violating the oath they took to “to support the Constitution of the United States” (Art. XV, Sec. 7 of the Ohio Constitution) when they voted for it.

One Democrat, Senator Jason Wilson, voted with Republicans on the bill. I contacted the Senator’s office on Friday evening and ended up talking with him at length about the resolution. While I find his choice to vote for this resolution disappointing for many reasons, his explanation was reasonable and his choice will probably help him during the next election cycle. The Senator made it clear that he is very concerned for about health care costs and availability but the majority of his constituents didn’t vote for President Obama and don’t support the federal health care legislation so he feels it’s his obligation to give them the opportunity to choose.

Wilson’s district is tough. And his choice to break with the Democrats on this resolution, as well as a number of other gun and abortion-related bills, will probably play well with potential voters in the fall.

As the Senator pointed out, the GOP controls the Senate 23 to 10. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference either way. But it still means Republicans will be able to claim this Resolution was passed with bipartisan support even though the bill is 100% partisan in nature.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s going to matter who voted for this thing in the Senate. The Ohio House will need a two-thirds vote to get the initiative on the ballots, which means they’ll need 66 votes. The current breakdown in the House is 59 Rs and 40’s Ds, making the chances of success pretty slim.

I guess this explains why Shannon Jones, one of the cosponsors of Grendell’s senate resolution, spent Father’s day with her family gathering signatures for the Tea Party’s ballot initiative.

Jones knows the Senate resolution won’t make it to the ballot. And I’m assuming Senator Wilson knows it too – which is why he felt comfortable enough voting for it.

The pendulum is swinging back toward the Dems as you read this, and it’s clear the Tea Party fad is nearing its end.

You had one good election cycle guys. Savor it. You should be proud. It’s more than most extremist, reactionary, third party-like movements get.

But you had your day. You got a few people elected. It’s time to join the rest of us back in reality.

Health Care reform is going to happen, and if you want to have some say in how it’s done, it’s in your best interest to get involved in the conversation instead closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling SOCIALIST at the top of your lungs.

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