Only an independent governor associated with a third party movement can root out the fraud and make the rules fair for everyone in Ohio. The wealthy own the Republican Party, and they lease the Democratic Party as needed. The Democratic Party which controlled Ohio in the 1980s did little to rein in special interests and bring clean money into the process.
The Republican Party, which has always been better at corruption than the Democrats, has allowed the state to be systematically looted for political purposes. There’s always an ongoing battle in a democracy between the people’s interests and the wealthy few. Between democracy and oligarchy.
In the case of the Ohio Republicans, the few they want to rule are the rich. The ancient Greeks called this plutocracy. But under Republican governors George Voinovich and Bob Taft, the usual evils of unleased plutocracy have transformed into open kleptocracy — rule by thieves.
That’s why Governor Taft’s popularity rating is at 8% or so. He is the first sitting governor to ever be convicted of crimes while in office. Granted, they were 4 first-degree misdemeanors, but if it was an average Ohioan, they would have totaled the more than 60 times he took hundreds of dollars in gifts from lobbyists and put them all together, making it a felony.
What happened in Ohio is clear — former governor, now U.S. Senator George Voinovich’s Chief of Staff, the late Paul Mifsud, set up a scheme to divert money from the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation to an apparent political bagman, Tom Noe. This blatant corruption is systemic in nature. It continued under Governor Taft, in part, because $14 million of anonymous and illegal money moved into the Ohio Supreme Court races.
That money, linked to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, took a 4-3 Supreme Court with a moderate Republican justice as the swing vote, and turned it into a court with five conservative Republican justices firmly entrenched. This control over the courts, and one-party rule at the state level — particularly in the Attorney General and Auditor’s offices — has led the Republican Party to believe that their contributors can loot the state.
This culture of corruption is rooted in a pay-to-play system that the Democratic Party is not capable of changing. If you witness how city politics is conducted in Cleveland or Columbus, where there’s one party rule by the Democrats, you’ll witness the same blatant steering of contracts and pay-to-play system just on a smaller scale.
Moreover, the Democrats in Columbus have deliberately destroyed public access cable television to make sure that independent progressive voices couldn’t criticize their obvious corruption.
The people of Ohio and this nation faced a similar situation during the so-called Gilded Age in the late 19th century. What ended the reign of the plutocrats in that period was the rise the people in the form of a third party, the Populist Party and the rise of middle-class and upper-class professionals in the form of the Progressive Movement. We need a new Progressive Populist movement today.
As a rule of thumb, 80% of all political money goes into media, of which 75% goes into TV buys. As governor, I plan to create a statewide public, education and government channel available to all candidates regardless of political affiliation. I also intend to propose a bill that will match 2-1 all donations up to $100.
I also intend to lead a statewide initiative to repeal HB 1 — which allows a wealthy family of four to donate up to $80,000 a year to a single candidate. And I plan to propose harsh penalties for those who peddle influence at any level of Ohio government. We’ll begin by making the system totally transparent and by making big money less important in Ohio politics.
Also, I intend to propose new curriculums for Ohio’s K-12 public schools and colleges, one that teaches political ethics and prepares students to run for public office and initiate petition drives; another that encourages teaching real investigative journalism and how to become internet publishers. This is what we’ve done at freepress.org. For more information, go to: BobforOhio.com
I believe the vast majority of Ohioans want and deserve clean government and public officials they can trust. At this time, we really can’t trust either party.