As seen at a well-timed activist convention and a packed Tea Party meeting.
Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.
Ohio, well-known as a key presidential election state, will also be a pivotal battleground this fall.
Judging by what I saw during the first week of July at the We The People Convention in Columbus and at this month’s meeting of the Clermont County Tea Party, those representing the state’s sensible center-right majority will be ready.
They’ll need to be. Two pivotal measures will be on the ballot this fall.
One will attempt to repeal SB5, a commonsense public-sector labor relations measure which became law in March. SB5 prohibits public employee strikes in a state which has seen more than its fair share of learning-disruptive teacher walkouts. Among other things, it also limits the subjects of collective bargaining for public employees, requires public workers to pay at least 15% of their health insurance costs, and prohibits “fair share” payments which force nonunion workers to “contribute” to the costs of union contract negotiation and enforcement.
The repeal initiative will certainly qualify for the fall ballot. Organized labor and other leftist groups plan to spend millions, much of it collected through “a one-time, $54 dues increase,” trying to push it through.
Heavy union turnout should largely be offset by Ohioans aching for a chance to personally do something about Obamacare. That’s because, barring a last-minute setback, the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment, a law which aims “to preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage,” including nullifying the financial penalties of Obamacare’s individual mandate, will also be on the ballot.
Given the political backdrop, the July 1-2 We The People Convention could not have come at a better time. Its ambitious mission: “To recruit, educate, and motivate Ohio citizens at the grassroots level to perform their constitutionally defined role in the governance of their townships, municipalities, and counties, as well as in our state and nation, by providing opportunities, knowledge, and training to ensure limited constitutional governance.” Having attended eleven breakout sessions while serving as a panelist in another, I can assure readers that the mission was largely accomplished.
As I wrote at my home blog on July 3: “This year’s event came about because of a recognition that as important as the achievements in last year’s congressional and U.S. Senate races were, it will take ongoing activism at the local, county and state levels to effect genuine long-term change, build an organizational and philosophical bench, and bring about an ultimate return to this country’s constitutional core values.”
We The People was no pep rally, though mealtime speeches featuring Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, and presidential candidate Herman Cain certainly energized attendees. Cain also put in an impromptu appearance late Friday afternoon, where he was instantly mobbed by fans and well-wishers.
In my view, the most important of the over 40 breakout modules presented each day — a veritable smorgasbord with so many great entrees the convention could easily have gone four days instead of two — dealt with how to get government to work as it should at the state and local level. Six sessions were devoted to those considering running for office, starting with the decision to take the plunge all the way to the final 72 hours of Get Out The Vote. Aspiring activists learned the nuts and bolts of neighborhood and precinct organizing, the Ohio Open Records Act, and how to start, build and manage patriot groups. Buckeye State-oriented modules focused on what it would take to continue the state’s nascent turnaround. Ex-ACORN insider Anita Moncrief, who received a standing ovation even before she began to speak, gave a tremendous presentation on election integrity. For seekers of the bigger picture, there were modules on various aspects of Obamacare, constitutional core principles, the economy, the Federal Reserve, and the fraudulent “science” of global warming — oops, I meant “climate change.”
Yours truly was privileged to be on a panel with fellow Ohio bloggers Maggie Thurber of Thurber’s Thoughts and Matt Hurley of Weapons of Mass Discussion, with Matt’s co-blogger Mark Garbett pitching in to keep the discussion of blogging and online activism on track. We aim to make the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance at least as potent a force as it was in state politics several years ago, when it can fairly be claimed that we helped save several political offices from being occupied by unacceptable Republicans, unhinged Democrats, or severely conflicted individuals.
We The People organizers are so pleased with the turnout of well over 1,000 and the positive attendee feedback that they’re already beginning to plan next year’s event.
On July 5, I attended the monthly meeting of the Clermont County Tea Party just east of Cincinnati. The group’s guiding principles are simple: “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, and Free Markets.” I was attracted to the meeting by the arrival of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation’s Running on Empty Tour. Apparently, I’m about the only one who had that motivation. Not to knock AFP’s presentation, which was outstanding and important, but the packed meeting room had what I was told is its normal monthly contingent of roughly 300 attendees.
In 75 minutes, in bang-bang fashion, I heard an Ohio Healthcare Freedom update, the AFP’s energy presentation, a trucking company owner’s revelations of how skyrocketing and volatile fuel costs have forced him to stop doing business in distant states, an EPA-driven sewage assessment horror story from next-door Hamilton County, an update on soaring water costs visited on Clermont County residents by a bloated water and sewer district with an edifice complex, and a brief overview of how the Community Reinvestment Act and excessive government intervention in the housing market has ruined what had been a well-functioning industry. Whew. This group is clearly near the top of its activist game, so it should be no surprise that reportedly 30% of the signatures necessary to get the healthcare initiative on the ballot came from Clermont County alone.
That’s the kind of intensity it will take to get the needed results in November, namely preservation of SB5 and voter enactment of the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Act. Both desired results would build further momentum for Tea Party-sympathetic candidates in critical 2012 primaries as well as the general election — just in time to ensure that our Punk President and his Gangster Government fail to get four more years. John Fund summed it up when he employed an old but rarely truer bromide at the end of his We The People speech: “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.”