What happened in Ohio Tuesday? Voters refused to be suckered, and stood up for themselves

Ohio Republicans seem unwilling to learn the lessons they should

August 9, 2023 2:32 pm
The Ohio burgee. Getty images.

The Ohio burgee. Getty images.

Ohioans, I’m so proud of you. You stood up for yourselves. You refused to let corrupt politicians and lobbyists steal your power. You paid homage to generations before us who won us these rights, and you protected them for future generations. You won a noble and historic victory for democracy in Ohio, and you should be very proud.

The reality remains that Ohio Republican politicians — the very same people who tried to do this to you — still control our executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In a normal political epoch, they would learn a lesson from all of this. But we are not in a normal political epoch, so my best advice is to expect them to have learned nothing. If their flailing on Wednesday is any indication, that advice appears to be sound.

They claim you were confused. They claim they didn’t have enough time to plan a campaign for an issue that they forced Ohioans to consider, where they picked the election date and timeline. They claim that Ohio voters protecting the Ohio Constitution from their attempts to rig it against voters, is just more evidence that the Ohio Constitution is too vulnerable to manipulation.

In defeat, instead of accepting loss as a natural part of life with grace and humility, they are dripping with condescension, and plotting for retribution. It’s an ugly look. So just remember that you protected your power, and all of the power in our beautiful state still ultimately rests with you.

If you noticed, I only ever shared my own opinion on Issue 1, and never once told you how to vote. So I won’t tell you now what to do with your powers of democracy that you’ve successfully defended.

But I do have some advice for how we all might be wise to approach our very troubled political times, where politicians ignore the will of the people, ignore the results of elections, ignore the rule of law, and spread fear, lies, hate, and deception.

My family taught me well that in our day-to-day lives, respect is earned. Trust is earned. Honor is earned. We form societies based on these things. Humans are social by nature. We’ve built extraordinary civilizations around our capacity to earn each other’s trust and to cooperate with one another to accomplish astounding things.

Those who cheat, lie, steal, con, and manipulate as part of their lust for control over others, have abandoned that social contract. They worship only at the throne of power. They’ve embraced a fundamentally anti-social posture, and wield it like a knife slitting the fabric of society. Beware.

Too often it seems to me these days, we tolerate a debasement in our politics that most of us would never tolerate in our personal lives. I submit that this is a disastrous mistake.

In our constitutional republic, our elected public servants are meant to look out for the people, all of the people, not just themselves.

It takes a tremendous amount of strength, patience, tolerance, thoughtfulness and understanding to truly look beyond the narrow confines of self-interest toward the higher-minded ideals of the ultimate public good. It takes compassion and empathy, but above all, it takes character.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Shadows can be deceptive, and they can be manipulated to create false impressions.

If America wants to escape Plato’s cave, we simply must start focusing on character, and demanding our public leaders have a high amount of it.

We must agree that the values of honesty, fair-dealing, prudence, charity, and justice, are not just virtues we strive toward personally, but community values that we strive toward collectively, as a society.

We must abandon the shadows on the wall, and insist on the real thing.



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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