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Rather Than Let Ohio Vote on Abortion Rights, the GOP is Trying to Stop Democracy.
What do you call a political movement that seeks to stop democracy and impose a regimented social order?
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Come November, Ohio will hold a ballot referendum to decide whether or not abortion should be protected in the state’s Constitution. Under Ohio law, the referendum passes if a majority of voters support it, making this one of the few truly democratic processes alive in the United States. Polling shows 58% of Ohioans support the ballot measure, indicating that, if democracy is allowed to proceed, abortion will soon become a constitutional right in The Buckeye State.
Unfortunately, Republicans have never let something as trivial as “democracy” stop them before. As Ohio’s anti-choice politicians can see which way the winds are blowing, they’ve taken the predictable step of trying to break the weather vane.
Just months after voting to abolish special elections, Ohio House Republicans decided to hold a special election on August 8th for their new referendum, Amendment 1. If adopted, Amendment 1 would change the necessary threshold to alter the Ohio Constitution from a simple majority (50% + 1 vote) to a 60% supermajority, which is coincidentally just slightly more than the 58% of Ohioans who want abortion enshrined in the state constitution. Amendment 1 would also make it more difficult for citizens to create ballot referendums, requiring they obtain signatures from all of Ohio’s 88 counties as opposed to the 44 currently required. To call this undemocratic is a gross understatement.
There’s no question as to where Americans stand on abortion. Recent polling shows that the vast majority of Americans (85%) want abortion to be legal, at least under “certain” circumstances. Only 13% want it to be illegal, the position held by many GOP politicians.
No one knows this better than the Republican Party. Like a dog running snout-first into the car it was chasing, Republican officials across the country have felt the public backlash of overturning Roe v. Wade. But rather than accepting that their radical anti-choice position is not shared by the American public, the GOP is doing what illegitimate rulers have done since the beginning of recorded history. Rather than changing its policies to reflect what the American people want, the Republican Party is trying to change the system so that it may impose what it wants on the American people. The attempt to subvert democracy in Ohio isn’t a one-off tactic from a malicious state party, but rather yet another attempt by the GOP to kill American democracy by a thousand cuts.
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There’s been no shortage of ink spilled about what to call Republicans’ attempts to rule absent popular support. Last summer Biden caused an uproar by calling it “semi-fascist,” while corporate media prefers much softer terms like “minoritarian rule.”
Whether it comes from elected Democrats or impartial journalists, describing the Republican Party with coddled language fails to convey the danger of what it is trying to achieve — a top-down social hierarchy that is determined by its leaders, protected by the police, and upheld through the manipulation of existing power channels. And, as evident by the squishy language the media uses to describe these tactics (see below), Republicans know that they’ll be given cover by a media establishment that is too scared to call the GOP what it is — fascist.
Commentators hate to use “the F word” in the context of 21st-century America. Admitting the American Right is fascist means our country would require anti-fascist solutions, which is too bitter a pill for many to swallow. But, regardless of what term anyone chooses to describe it, there’s no denying that the Republican Party, in both Ohio and across the country, is trying to replace democracy with a system they know will preserve their illegitimate power.
If that’s not Fascism, then I don’t know what is.
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