By Len Harding
Clermont County is a Republican stronghold. No news there. Our Republican majority percentages match those of rural Mississippi and Alabama.
This is good or not, depending on your point of view. Looking at it from the economic interests of the voters, it is not so good.
The average Clermont voter is electing politicians who have no interest in working folks’ economic well-being.
Unions are castigated for raising wages – well, duh. You cannot join any chamber of commerce in Ohio without paying dues – you don’t get chamber benefits for free. This is never mentioned in the anti-union screeds that populate the papers around here. Republicans want all union members to be asked if it’s OK for a union to give money to a campaign. Businesses never ask their workers if they support management on any issue – they are told.
Our balanced state budget did not lower the cost of government. It just lowered the state’s commitment to pay. Schools cost the same, but they now get less money from the state. In turn the schools have to go to the public for property tax levies to cover costs. This is a burden on working class communities that the state knowingly imposed on the electorate.
It’s happening right now in Clermont County. School levies are challenged and one can imagine that many may fail. These schools serve Republican families; Republican representatives control all levels of government. The state constitution commits the government to pay for schooling. They refuse; they get re-elected.
Republicans run on issues that appeal to people’s prejudice and religious views; they win going away. Never mind that prejudice is wrong and religion is banned from government in the constitution. When religion doesn’t work, Republicans get hysterical about guns; or abortion; or foreigners; or gay marriage. On guns: keep the government out of our personal choices. On abortion: force the government into personal choices. On gay marriage, outlaw a form of property protection that is extended to heterosexual couples in clear contradiction of the 14th amendment. On foreigners, make them learn English, even though our schools are pretty much out of the business of English as Second Language.
The problem with voting like rural Mississippi is: sooner or later we mimic rural Mississippi. The problem is that these very areas suck up government support while their Republican leaders condemn the programs that keep their states afloat. It’s no wonder they are not interested in expanding the voter rolls.
High-income people living in low-income states argue against social programs. Truth is they probably benefit more from federal support programs than the rest of us. If you own a fast food franchises in Jackson, MS, for example, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit ensure that your customers have adequate income to eat at your outlet. If you sell luxury cars in Florida, many of your customers are probably medical professionals who are earning high incomes because other people have Medicare benefits. Do we really want to go down this road?
The richest parts of the United States (San Francisco Bay area or Connecticut) favor Democrats, but are underrepresented in the Senate. Conservative areas of the country are overrepresented in the Senate. Transfers, on average, flow away from high-income and underrepresented areas, toward low-income and overrepresented areas. This isn’t Left or Right, It’s reality. So when working people vote Republican, they need to keep in mind that those for whom they are voting are cynically using their beliefs to line their own pockets while picking yours.
I’m just sayin.
Len Harding is a retired consultant, technical writer and historian. He lives in Clermont County.