by Bob Fitrakis
The Big Chill may be over in Columbus. Things are thawing out and some progressive seeds are being planted. Can the revolution be far behind? Well, if it’s the Hemp Revolution, it’s on this weekend at the Wexner Center from the same people who brought us the provocative Panama Deception. Since both President Bill and Speaker Newt are admitted former partisans of the hemp plant flower, it would be the perfect bipartisan family outing. The many uses of the hemp plant and the demonization of marijuana are well documented in the film. It’s enough to invoke vague and hazy memories of Jack Ford–son of the Republican President Gerald Ford–on the cover of Rolling Stone claiming that the White House was the best place to smoke dope.
The war by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s against hemp–that led to such absurdities as the Smithsonian changing displays to avoid mentioning sacred American documents were printed on hemp paper –was little more than a political ploy to disenfranchise New Left activists from the late ’60s and early ’70s. But who would’ve thunk that hemp seeds would be sprouting here in the capital city with The Ohio Industrial Hemp & Medical Use Coalition?
Started by a couple of local college students, the coalition is already in the process of collecting signatures to legalize the industrial and medical use of hemp. If you want to check out this new breed of hempster, stop by their table at the Wexner Center after you participate in the Hemp Revolution experience.
It’s the Green Revolution that’s driving the hemp revolt. Eventually, there’ll be an eruption in local Columbus politics. The recent Central Committee elections in the Franklin County Democratic Party provided a few minor tremors. Two members of the Westerville Social Action group won seats on the party’s endorsement body. And there was a virtual war in Clintonville’s 18th ward.
The grassroots-oriented and liberal-leaning Clintonville-Beechwold candidate prevailed over an even more progressive Steve Kanner with the Party’s candidate coming in a distant third. And the ever-affable and unrepentant liberal Tom Erney won in the 19th ward. There’s already talk of forming an official Progressive Caucus (slogan: “We’re PC”) in the County Party.
Such a coalition could force the Dems to go on record on issues like the Hemp Initiative, the nuke dump, recycling, and human rights issues–slave labor in Burma, or political prisoners in China or sweatshops in the maquilladoras in Mexico. Not that the latter will matter much politically unless the caucus can tie it to concerns in Franklin County. Well, it could get interesting. I always say politics doesn’t have to be boring or cheesy.
Speaking of non-boring, Bill “a rolling stone gathers no” Moss, running as an Independent for the U.S. Congress 12th District, could ignite a populist spark. And as those Maoists used to say, “One spark can start a prairie fire.” Moss’s peculiar mix of pro-second amendment rhetoric, environmentalism, and anti-NAFTA and GATT sentiments will draw considerable media attention in a district that’s nearly a quarter African-American.
Some suggest that this is Bill’s version of “The Big Payback” to Cynthia Ruccia, the Democratic candidate for the 12th District, who dropped out as fund-raiser for Bill’s mayoral campaign last year. Word had it that Franklin County AFL-CIO leader Bill Dobbins leaned on her to quit the campaign. Dobbins is best known for complaining that “blacks are trying to take over the party here.”
Which reminds me of the story of the local machinist leader who told me when I was running for Congress in 1992 that the biggest problem facing his workers was that they had lost their right “to call a queer a faggot.” Ain’t a gay conspiracy moving your jobs overseas, brothers and sisters. And unless labor in Franklin County gets a lot more progressive, they’ll be losing elections for another 50 years: “Son, don’t tell me how to run elections. I been losin’ Democratic elections in Franklin County since 1943.”
Bob Fitrakis was elected as a Democratic Central Committee member in the 55th ward.