Nasty Nasty Politics!
Ohio’s Issue 1 is up for a vote on the 8th of August. There’s a lot of confusion fed by people who misrepresent the change that it would make, treating you like an idiot, and feeding you slogans rather than facts. There are culprits on both sides of the issue. We need to dispassionately evaluate whether Issue 1’s passing would be good for liberty in Ohio.
On the surface, requiring supermajorities for Ohio constitutional amendments could be a good move for preserving a republic. However, the other portions of this amendment would destroy future citizen initiatives and centralize power in the Ohio legislature. This is a trap and a power grab by Ohio’s would-be elites.
Right Wing Bias
The Right is generally saying Issue 1 must be passed. They think we should make a change to the Ohio constitution to protect the Ohio constitution from change. Seems ironic, right? Some of these organizations, including some I normally respect, are making all who oppose this measure out to be leftists who wish to make sweeping changes in order to outlaw guns, make pronoun misuse a hate crime, or enforce some other toxic leftist idea.
Looking at Ohio constitutional amendments that have been proposed, I quickly found an amendment enshrining abortion as a right in Ohio that will be voted on in November. Switching the Ohio constitution in August in order to keep this from passing is an obvious tactic to stop this specific amendment. The tactic is understandable if one thinks that abortion is murder (which I do!), but we need to look at what we are doing to the Ohio constitution and what the long-term consequences might be. This abortion amendment should be dealt with as a separate issue.
Left Wing Bias
The Left is saying how we need to defeat Issue 1, often using senseless rhetoric about “one person one vote,” misrepresenting what the change would entail. They make a big deal about the values of democracy, but I honestly don’t buy that having 50% +1 vote in favor of an issue makes that issue right or that it should be forced down everybody else’s throat. There’s a major difference between a republic and a democracy. A republic is supposed to protect minorities (of all sorts) from majority tyranny.
The US Constitution was ratified and (surprise!) it did NOT set up a system of democracies in the states. Article IV, Section 4 starts off saying “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….” In a republic the basis of law is not as simple as whatever a majority wants. Government is kept on a constitutional leash. So, again, the very foundation of law at the state level is at stake and Issue 1, like any potential change to that foundation, is not a trivial matter.
What I’m presenting here is my own analysis of Issue 1. You can read the issue for yourself here: https://www.ohiosos.gov/globalassets/elections/2023/spec/issuereport.pdf
This issue is, in itself, an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that can pass with a simple majority (50% +1). This is not a controversial statement: The goal of Issue 1 is to make passing amendments more difficult. Issue 1 has three parts that need to be analyzed separately.
Part One: A Supermajority Requirement
If Issue 1 passes, future amendments to the Ohio Constitution will require 60% voter approval to pass. Under the current constitution, only a simple majority is currently required. This applies to any constitutional amendment, regardless of whether it is from a legislative source or from a citizen initiative. I’m generally in favor of this as we don’t want a bunch of random amendments made to the foundation of law in Ohio. Such changes should not be made on a whim. The US Constitution has similar supermajority requirements for changes to be made and I believe it’s a good precedent to follow. The Right has a rightful concern about fashionable issues-of-the-day being turned into constitutional changes with long-lasting effects. A simple majority does not defend the status quo against random changes.
This appears to be the only portion of the proposed constitutional change that the mainstream discusses. Before we use a simple majority to force a supermajority in the future, we should truly understand the rest of this amendment.
Part Two: Petitioning Requirements for Citizen Initiatives
Under the Ohio constitution, amendments can originate in the legislature or from initiatives started by citizens of the state. Citizen initiatives are created by writing petitions and getting them signed by the electorate. Petitions at the state level in Ohio are already notoriously difficult to push through, but Issue 1 would make the process even more difficult. At least 5% of the electors of EACH and EVERY county in Ohio will be required for an initiative to move forward. The cost of getting petitions circulated and signed by so many is easily half a million dollars, and only the best-funded citizen initiatives would ever succeed in getting the needed signatures.
This is a step that is clearly designed to ensure that citizen constitutional initiatives are rarer than they are today. This means that legislative politics will be the only viable option for constitutional amendments. This focuses more power on a legislature that cannot be trusted while taking it away from the people. Constitutional amendments are already rare in Ohio, thanks to the difficulties of the current petitioning system. This is already the high bar that prevents constitutional amendments from happening often, rather than getting a majority to vote in favor of it.
Part Three: No Adding Signatures
The third portion of Issue 1 would prevent an organization from adding signatures to a petition after after its submittal. Once the petitions are turned-in, if they fall short of the required signatures by merely one signature in the whole state, they will be forced to start over with zero signatures. This sounds harmless, but given the experiences I’ve heard from activists within the state of Ohio, signatures will be crossed off a petition for minor issues that have nothing to do with a voter’s validity or their stated intentions. It’s very easy for a government bureaucrat to destroy a citizen initiative in this fashion.
Requiring supermajorities for Ohio constitutional amendments could, by itself, be an action to preserve a republic. However, the second and third provisions of this amendment would destroy citizen initiatives in the future, leaving all state amendments in the hands of machine politics. Do we trust the Ohio legislature, though?! This is a trap and a power grab by Ohio’s would-be elites. This needs to be stopped and citizen initiatives need to be preserved by defeating this proposed amendment.
We don’t like to focus on issues at the state level, but Issue 1 is an exception. Our real goals are to make Warren County the freest county in Ohio! When we pull that off, then we can go viral and infect the rest of the state with liberty. Please consider the following actions:
- Make a stand for liberty by supporting Joshua Toms in his run for Lebanon City Council! Sign up to volunteer, endorse, or fund his efforts on the campaign’s website: https://www.votejoshtoms.com/ There will be volunteer opportunities to assist Toms in his appearances at Lebanon city events — these activities will be fun and if you contact me and volunteer because you heard about it here, I’ll buy you a beverage: mark.marasch(at)lpo.org
- Are you a liberty-minded candidate running for office within Warren County? Contact me directly to discuss how we can help: mark.marasch(at)lpo.org
- Are there other topics and efforts you’d prefer to pursue? Take our survey to share your views.
- Come to our meetings. We meet at Doc’s in Lebanon on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm. We complete our business meetings quickly (30-60 minutes), and move onto the truly important business of our social. It’s a great time for open discussion on issues and to meet with like-minded people.
- Join for one of our Coffee Socials. We meet at Kala Coffeehouse in Mason on the third Friday of each month at 2:30 pm. The gathering for these is generally quite small and it’s a great opportunity for small, casual discussions for people who want to explore getting involved.
- Share your talents and interests! Let us know what you can do and what interests you. Your unique capabilities can enhance liberty, whether you are out in front of the public or in the background making things work.
- Donate to the Libertarian Party of Warren County
- Join the Libertarian Party of Ohio
- Join the national Libertarian Party