The Ohio Constitution declares all power inherent in the people. Issue 1 seeks to rob that from us

It’s time for Ohio voters to show America how seriously we take our own citizen power, or if we’ve abandoned our birthright

August 3, 2023 4:30 am
The Ohio burgee waving along with the national flag of the United States of America. Getty Images.

The Ohio burgee waving along with the national flag of the United States of America. Getty Images.

All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary.

– Ohio Constitution, Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 2

The Ohio Constitution Bill of Rights declares all power is inherent in the people.

Now it’s time for Ohio voters to show all of America how seriously we take that, or if we’ve abandoned our own birthright — this timeless, defining principle of democracy.

With Issue 1 on August 8, Ohio lobbyists and politicians demand total unchecked power.

They seek to create signature requirements so burdensome that they would destroy the ability of Ohio citizen groups to bring amendments to our Ohio Constitution ever again.

And they seek to ensure a minority of voters can veto critical decisions over the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all Ohioans.

Ohio Republicans presently enjoy absolute control over our state’s legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Last year, they manipulated that power to override a majority of voters on gerrymandering.

Now those same gerrymandered politicians seek to rip away citizens’ power so that a majority of voters can be overruled on the Ohio Constitution itself.

If polls didn’t show these politicians and lobbyists out-of-step with a majority of Ohioans, they wouldn’t be attacking 111 years of majority voter power.

But they have given up trying to persuade voters or to make convincing arguments. They would rather just attempt to rig the game, which is what they seek with Issue 1.

They don’t believe in a fair shake for majority voters. They reject a square deal on our Ohio Constitution. They seek to warp and manipulate the levers of power for their own selfish benefit, against the voters and against the people.

Ohio voters asserted our power over the Ohio Constitution in 1912 with 57.5% of the vote.

Under the 60% threshold that Issue 1 proposes, we would have never won this power in the first place.

The Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1912 stood as a political event of massive national significance, with the eyes of America upon Ohio.

Now the eyes of the nation are on us again.

Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech to Ohio’s 1912 convention that has been praised and studied by scholars and defenders of democracy ever since.

“I believe in pure democracy,” Roosevelt boomed. “With Lincoln, I hold that, ‘This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it.'”

Standing on the shoulders of Abraham Lincoln’s sacred incantation in the Gettysburg Address that ours is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” Roosevelt proclaimed that he protests against any theory that would make of the constitution a means of thwarting instead of securing the absolute right of the people to rule themselves.

“I believe in the initiative and the referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative,” he rang out to applause in Ohio’s capital.

But now, amid wanton corruption and careless destruction of our lives and wallets, lobbyists and lawmakers in the Ohio Statehouse have their knives at the throat of democracy in our great state.

They menace the majority to enshrine minority rule over our foundational document.

Constitutions are forged in fire and blood to stand as bulwarks of democracy.

Now Ohio lobbyists and politicians seek to abuse our constitution as a means to diminish and debase the power of the people.

As Americans, we carry the life of our nation. As Ohioans, we also hold the life of our great state.

Through toil and heartache, centuries of Ohioans have fought to pull us away from the ever-threatening darkness of corruption, exploitation, and misrepresentation.

Generations before us paid devastating prices to win us the rights, freedoms, and powers of democracy we enjoy today.

Now, for the first time in our history, Ohio’s lawmakers labor to rob that from us, to throw the shroud of darkness again over our lives, to secure the boot of corruption, exploitation, and misrepresentation again on our faces, through the force of minority rule.

We have but one cure, one hope of redemption: Ourselves; the people.

And we have but one question, the only question on the ballot Aug. 8:

Shall we allow our Ohio government of the people, by the people, for the people, to perish from this earth?



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David DeWitt
David DeWitt

OCJ Editor-in-Chief and Columnist David DeWitt has been covering government, politics, and policy in Ohio since 2007, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt