I know from my adventures on Twitter that posting a lot of Ohio political content is seen by some as simple regional vanity. People in the Twitterverse occasionally berate me for posting so much about Ohio politics. My Twitter content is all over the map but tends towards national politics, Ohio politics, Doctor Who and pictures of cats doing funny stuff. It is the Internet, after all.
Why should we care what is going on in Ohio, I’m asked. It’s not Texas or New Jersey or any other politically powerful state that leads political positions, policy and thought.
OK. A refresher on the Great State of Ohio.
No Republican has ever won the Whitehouse without winning Ohio. That fact alone is telling in why, during the Presidential election cycle, candidates may as well pitch a tent in Columbus. You find Republicans stretching for any connection to Ohio. In the 2004 election, George W. Bush told a throng in Columbus Ohio that his great grandfather lived in Columbus and married a local girl. His grandfather was born in Columbus. Thus he was a homeboy.
Nixon had a better claim to Central Ohio than Bush. The Trickster’s father lived in Columbus and was a street car motorman. Nixon’s father moved to California. With Ohio’s presidential record, we dodged a bullet there.
Ohio is a major testing ground for products as we have a good cross section of America living here. If you can sell it here, you can pretty much sell it anywhere. The same goes with political ideas and candidates.
Ohio has always been a swing state in the modern era. Even during the heyday of Ohio’s unionized populace, the more conservative rural areas could offset the more Democratic urban areas. So, in 1960, Nixon could win Ohio while losing to Kennedy. Or help Reagan win in 1980.
Ohio has always had an outsized influence in American political life. We’ve produced eight so-so presidents. Numerous cabinet members. Influential House and Senate members from Ohio were involved in major discussions of policy.
Ohio was a hotbed of abolitionist ideologies. Per capita, Ohio led the Union in troops serving in the Civil War. The Buckeye State also provided many of the top generals that shaped and led the fight. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Hooker to name a few. Secretary of War Stanton was from Ohio.
Ohio backed up their political power with manufacturing prowess. Firestone, Goodyear, Jeffery Mining Equipment, Anchor Hocking and others. Ohio always had a large presence by the major auto manufacturers. Ohio was also the home to the original Standard Oil. Ohio became so powerful an economic force that the feds enacted the Ohio laws aimed at reining in the growing power of Ohio banks.
Even as Ohio has lost population and house seats, it is still a major player in American politics. It is, like America as a whole, not a monolithic bloc of single party votes. So we get a lot of attention.
This is why Ohio politics are important.
The Tea Party conquest of the Ohio Legislature, in what once was a sane, moderate state is a cautionary tale. It can happen anywhere complacency towards the extreme flourishes. When a party doesn’t believe extremists can win, they get their asses handed to them.
A former Wall Street guy and Fox news host can pass himself off as a populist and eke out a victory for Governor. A venal political opportunist and hack can wage a vicious campaign and win the office of the Treasurer.
In 2010 the Dems in Ohio were victims of shock and awe. They, I feel, did not take the threat of the Tea Party seriously enough. I too was caught flat footed as it’s difficult to have taken their policy stands seriously.
Since then, the Ohio Democratic Party seems to be on the rebound. Strong candidates are being fielded in State races.
Ohio’s actions in 2014 are key to affecting the national political landscape in 2016. How? By derailing Governor John Kasich’s presidential aspirations by denying him reelection. His desire to run for the Presidency in ’16 may be one of Ohio’s worst kept secrets.
He panders to the far right base every chance he gets, bucking the tide only if it is something to show he cares and won’t cause him long term political damage. He signs some of the most stringent abortion bills into law and then end runs the Legislature to expand Medicaid. Though by using the Controlling Board, he spared the GOP incumbents from having to vote on it.
If Ohio winds up with a Democratic Secretary of State, voting may be less problematic. But there is the GOP/Tea Party House and Senate to deal with.
President Obama won Ohio twice. Yet, as usual, the GOP here still talks of Ohio as a conservative state. They point to their majority as proof. They decline to recognize they are the result of Ohio being gerrymandered to within an inch of its life as a primary factor.
So, as November approaches Ohio can once again flex its political muscle prior to the 2016 GOP clown and pony show primaries.
First off, deny them John Kasich as a candidate in those primaries. I have a selfish motive though. He will embarrass Ohio like Rick Perry did to Texas.
Next, by regaining state offices we can show Ohio doesn’t really want to try to be Texas when it comes to abhorrent legislation.
We can go back to what we were. A sane, moderate purple-though-more-blue state.
Then we can stand in the way of a Republican being elected president, again.