Tag Archives: redistricting


26 Dec



Politics has often been called the art of compromise. Too seldom do we admit politics is the art of exercising power. Congress cannot exercise the art of compromise when the balance of power is so uneven. Our focus at the moment is solely on the failure of congresspersons to compromise on several levels;between the president and Speaker of the House, within the House, within the Senate, within the Republican Party between Teapublicans and Republicans. We should instead focus on the lack of balance within our congressional districts. Until we right that balance, no compromise will be possible. Continuing the dialogue solely on the personal assessment of individual  character illustrated by a willingness or unwillingness to compromise hides the real problem.


In 2010 the Republican/Teapublican victories brought control of the legislature of many key states, in some cases a veto-proof majority. And, 2010 placed more states under the leadership of Republican governors and secretaries of state as well. The 2010 census allowed these states ,including Ohio, to redistrict an imbalance so severe that Ohio’s districts were gerrymandered to form safe seats for both parties. The inability to compromise is the affirmed in these gerrymandered districts. Secretaries of state redefined vote counts within districts,further assuring veto-proof legislatures.


Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has no motivation to seek the middle when doing so will have no impact on his re-election in a general election. His seat is safe thanks to the recent redistricting legislation, and Ohio’s failure to overturn that legislation in the 2012 campaign. His threat comes from within his own party;and, not just for his chairmanship, but for his re-election. The threat would come as a primary challenge;one well-funded by the moneyed interests and super PACS supporting the Teapublicans. Tacking to center, seeking compromise, would encourage such an attack.How can he seek compromise?


We must organize around redistricting,and other legislative changes which upset the balance of power for both parties. For example, there is a well-financed effort by Teapublicans to demonize the electoral college,to eliminate it, or change how Ohio calculates electoral votes. Republicans are mounting a quiet effort to change our current system to one which favors the minority of Ohio voters. Now Republicans have more safe districts than Democrats do and they want to allow each district to cast electoral votes based on district wins, rather than casting all of Ohio’s electoral votes for the candidate who wins the majority of all Ohio votes, as is current law.


Republicans realize this could give them short-term gain.However, their control is not absolute and eternal. Should Democrats gain control, the Democratic Party could benefit just as unfairly. But, both parties should be more concerned about the good of the people; not the good of any party. It behooves both Democratic and Republican voters to insist that our legislators create more balance;not less. Those of us who believe in the platform and values of the Democratic Party should not fear such a balanced approach. Democratic candidates can compete with Republican candidates, and can win even in unsafe districts. How much better could we do in competitive districts? And, if John Boehner’s district were competitive, he might gain more political power through compromise than obstruction. That would be a win-win for both parties, and for the American people.


We have overlooked the importance of what happens at our local and district levels for too long. we have been trained to keep our eyes on the federal government,thus national elections, as the source of our failed compromise; when,in fact, competitive compromise begins within our own districts. We cannot sit back until the next presidential election, hoping to elect persons who promise to compromise. Everyone wants to compromise when it maintains their balance of power;but without such a balance, no one can afford to compromise. Not Mr. Boehner, despite his fine character and personal wishes…unless he is willing, and we are willing to watch his failed re-election as the price to be paid. Would that be a win for Ohio or the Teapublicans?



6 Aug



The anniversary party differs from the wedding reception,but is no less filled with love. Oh, no rice is thrown,and no shoes nor tin cans are tied to the car bumper. But, the steady appreciation of guests for the shared commitment and sacrifice they have watched unfold since the wedding day several years ago is even more pronounced and certain. To be sure, there have been disagreements, arguments and bewilderment over the years. The wedding ring may be a bit tarnished. This has only awakened a more mature appreciation for the relationship and its ability to weather the storms of human nature and ego. No one expects to see the same innocent fervor on the faces of those who shared and witnessed vows 4 years before. It is enough that the parties still try to do their best, and stay committed to one another. We understand this. We family and friends share the responsibility with newlyweds to support their efforts; on their wedding day and every day after.


We have a similar relationship with political candidates with whom we affiliate. We stand as witnesses to their platform to serve our fellow citizens, and we support them, on inauguration day and every day after.This is why the 2012 Obama-Biden campaign looks different than the 2008 campaign. This is why the question, “Where is the enthusiasm we saw in 2008?” is a ridiculous one. It is the wrong question because it is fails to understand what grassroots community support is and how it operates.


In Columbus,Ohio, as in other states, those who worked so hard to elect Obama-Biden pressured Congress to pass The Lily Ledbetter Act allowing women to push for equal wages and moved right into a campaign in support of health care reform resulting in The Affordable Care Act. They collected signatures, lobbied Congress, attended fairs and rallies where they spoke out and educated fellow citizens, held a candlelight vigil, wrote letters to the editor and their representatives. As they worked on these campaigns they resisted the attack on pubic employee unions by Governor Kasich and Republicans in the State Legislature,collecting 1.3 million signatures (they needed only 231,000) to place a referendum on the 2011ballot where it was soundly defeated. The Columbus Dispatch reported [  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/06/29/sb-5-referendum-coalition-to-deliver-more-than-a-million-signatures.html] a parade of more than 6,000 marched up Broad Street to Fourth Street, “where a 48 ft. semi-truck carrying the 1,298,301 signatures in 1,502 boxes collected was unloaded. The parade also included retired fire trucks, a drum line, bagpipes and loud motorcycles. It took about 15 minutes to pass.” Does this sound like a lack of enthusiasm?


With no time to rest local Obama supporters joined with others to start another signature-gathering campaign to supplant the gerrymandering redistricting plan passed by Ohio Republicans. They have collected 750,000 signatures to place a constitutional amendment creating a 12 member citizen commission not favoring any party on the November 2012 ballot. Simultaneously, they have fought off efforts to defund Planned parenthood, assure women’s reproductive health care freedoms, and continue to oppose voter suppression with some success. These have been massive efforts, by thousands of grass root volunteers, taking on very powerful interest groups. This has not been easy. It certainly makes one wonder how anyone could question the enthusiasm of grassroot volunteers, the same volunteers who worked on Obama-Biden 2008 election. They continue to man phone banks, canvass door-to-door, place yard signs, educate and recruit others at fairs and festivals, write letter-to-the-editor, and blog in support of the president and vice-president.


Dealing with the racism and bigotry has made the effort of these volunteers difficult and disheartening at times. Yet, they continue with renewed determination that such hatred will not be rewarded. They seek nothing short of absolute victory, on achy legs, with sore hearts and open minds, and the determination for a fair election which they know will result in the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama. They may look a bit more worn, sound a bit more tired, and have a few more scars; but, they are still enthusiastic where it counts…in their hearts.