On Tuesday, 57 percent of voting Ohioans said no to Issue 1, a constitutional amendment designed to silence the majority of Ohioans and subject us to the policy preferences of a small group of extremists who have secured the favor of a wholly gerrymandered legislature. In a more technical sense, if Issue 1 were to have passed, the threshold for approving constitutional amendments would be raised from a simple majority to 60 percent of the vote. Heading into the August election, supporters of Issue 1 had been clear that the measure was meant to make it harder for November’s abortion rights amendment to pass.
“This is 100 percent about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution,” said Secretary of State Frank LaRose. “The left wants to jam it in there this coming November.”
Since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year, voters nationwide have approved multiple ballot initiatives protecting abortion rights. Ohio Republicans were trying to stem the backlash at home by limiting voters’ power through one-party-controlled legislatures, changing the rules of the democratic process to extend their control even further. Issue 1 was antidemocratic in the strictest sense of the word, and thankfully, 57 percent of nearly three million Ohio voters felt the same. Unfortunately, Ohio may be out of the woods but aren’t entirely out of the wilderness with November’s upcoming election still looming.
November’s abortion rights amendment would establish a right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including on abortion in Ohio. In Ohio, a ban on abortions after embryonic cardiac activity is detected, typically around six weeks of pregnancy, went into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. But an Ohio court blocked the six-week law, and legal proceedings continue. The proposed constitutional amendment, which has qualified for the November ballot, would protect the right of individuals to make their own reproductive decisions, including on contraception and abortion. It would forbid the state from prohibiting or interfering with the “voluntary exercise of this right.”
Polls suggest most Ohioans support abortion rights, but it’s also why far-right ghouls like LaRose became such major proponents of Issue 1. It’s also why you saw these same extremists do a complete 180 from ending August voting to returning it soon after due to serving their interests. So, despite their effort to push their agenda and ultimately losing, don’t be surprised that they’re already pulling the next lever in their fascist machine hoping to quash reproductive rights in Ohio.
Their reaction toward wanting freedom and autonomy over their bodies has a touch of disgusting irony. In the right-wing vernacular, freedom means exercising one’s God-given right to dominate anyone deemed lower than you. This includes rich over poor, men over women, employees over employees, white over black and America over the rest of the world. In their mythology, there are few greater enemies than “wokeness.” But their beliefs lack conviction; at their core, it’s just a void. These wraiths are unable to reconcile their actual lives with the values of primitive domination and masculine authority they hold so dear. Their lives are the epitome of the much-derided “safe space,” and they are constantly offended by anyone and everything who hurts their feelings or, even worse, disagrees with them on a moral level.
So, dear reader, you’re probably wondering what can be done to stop this, right? Well, as eye-rolling as it sounds since it’s the typical Democratic line of defense, you have to vote when Ohio’s election rolls around in November. Sure, the odds are stacked against all of Ohio considering how gerrymandered the state has become, giving these far-right extremists a comfortable position in power. But, the more people vote in favor of a hot-button issue like reproductive rights, the more the voice of everyone in Ohio will be heard.
That’s just the first step in a series of steps that’ll eventually become a journey. 2016 was a flashpoint that empowered and emboldened the worst kind of citizens with even worse intentions. 2020 ebbed the flow, but the passivity and inaction from the current regime haven’t forced these zealots to go away; instead, they’re just festering. So all Ohio and its residents can do right now is keep pushing through elections and using their voice to force wholesale change on a state and national level. Sure, that change may not materialize until decades from now but speaking up and speaking out will also prevent hundreds of years of progress from being erased.
Ohio and the United States are at a crossroads with November’s upcoming elections screaming into focus and the 2024 Presidential Election on the horizon. Unfortunately, Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and, considering how unsettling Ron DeSantis and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. Having one candidate in his 80s go up against a candidate soon entering his 80s is already nauseating enough to think about. But there’s a chance Trump could win and seize control of power and we see a political landscape shift to fascism comparable to Paul von Hindenburg in 1933.
That’s where the far-right extremists in Ohio will truly make their voices heard, but only by force, not civility. They wouldn’t just go for something similar to Issue 1, they’d go for everything they want. That means reproductive rights, racial rights and equality, LGBTQ+ rights and equality, gun control and so much more would be on the table. That’s why speaking up and speaking out is vital since the dam is set to burst if people don’t. Again, years of progress can go away rapidly, starting at Ohio’s November polls.
Hopefully, Ohioans make the right decision a second time.
Evan Dammarell is an award-winning sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.
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