Ohio GOP should reject ignorance

The Ohio Statehouse. Photo by Jake Zuckerman.

We live in an era of polarization in our politics, from Washington to Columbus. It is concerning that some choose to build huge and cavernous divides among us when the true level of disagreement is small and, in some cases, non-existent. It is dangerous that some lawmakers choose to exploit these divides — real and imagined — for their own personal benefit, either for political reasons or some maladjusted psychological dysfunction.

We do not know which it is — politics or disturbed ego — that drives state Rep. John Becker, R-Union Twp. in his quest to impeach Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican. Perhaps it is a combination of both for Becker, and for the prominent supporters of his effort, state reps. Candice Keller of Middletown, Nino Vitale of Urbana and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason, also Republicans.

We are grateful these pandemic deniers are not gaining more support from the statehouse Republicans, but is it enough to just not join in this delusional effort?

The reasons Becker, Keller, Vitale and Zeltwanger give for targeting DeWine are flimsy, shallow and ignorant and this effort and their practice of politics should be condemned and repudiated by Democrats and Republicans alike. But, especially by Ohio Republicans, including state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, and state reps. DJ Swearingen, R-Huron, and Dick Stein, R-Norwalk.

Failure to condemn this ignorance is giving tacit approval to destructive talking point politics that rips at the fabric of our Democracy, in addition to the damage it does to the public health. While Becker, Keller, Vitale and Zeltwanger downplay the pandemic, encouraging revolt against public officials and public health orders, the coronavirus is spreading misery in the communities they represent.

We, like many Americans, were shocked in October when the FBI arrested 13 people who allegedly plotted to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, and otherwise violently overthrow the state government. Something like that happens in Third World countries, not in the heartland, we thought. But, indeed, this is what prioritizing polarization and promoting division does. Becker, in fact, was reported to have met with a woman who was later implicated in a police report to have plotted a “citizen’s arrest” of DeWine.

Our local representatives and the Republican majority in the Ohio House and Senate, in our view, should publicly and soundly reject and repudiate the efforts of Becker, Keller, Vitale and Zeltwanger and encourage them to leave the statehouse.

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