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An August Election to Decide What Kind of Country We Want to Have

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other ones.”

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying this in 1947. You’d have to wonder what he would think of what is going on in 2023 Ohio.

This week, Ohio voters are being asked to vote on Proposition 1. The initiative asks voters whether or not we should change the voting requirements for altering the constitution from the simple majority to over 60% support for change. This special August election is taking place to ensure that the rules are solidified before a November election that will see reproductive rights on the ballot. Not so coincidentally, the November election has an amendment on the ballot to protect reproductive rights as a universal right.

At the heart of the issue is a question: should citizens be able to vote for what they want? 60% of Ohio voters state their desire for a right to abortion access, yet the legislature continues to try to enforce bans that would make this impossible for essentially anyone. In a representative democracy like ours, it is troubling and disingenuous to so actively flout the desire of the public in favor of a small but vocal subsection of the state. Especially when access to abortion would not force anyone who doesn’t want one to have one.

At the end of today, the issue isn’t really about abortion or about making changes to the constitution. This ballot initiative to change the rules seeks to undermine the very faith that Ohio voters and Americans in general have in the efficacy of government. My generation was raised on the belief that we could make social change through activism, civic engagement, and thoughtful dialog. Yet, this week, there are those who are trying to prove that the will of the people is nothing compared to the political machine that will attempt to impose its will on the public, mandate be damned.

There is a reasonable conversation we can have about whether or not democracy is a good system of government. You could argue thoughtfully that putting decision-making power in the hands of policy experts and scientists would lead to a more thoughtful, holistically beneficial system. But that isn’t the system we have, nor is it the conversation anyone is having. Instead, today’s election is an attempt by a select few legislators to maintain as much power and influence as possible, regardless of the way it represents or serves the public interest. And that is profoundly un-American.

By the end of the day, we’re going to have a sense for what kind of political game we’re playing. Are decisions of state going to be made at the behest of the majority opinion, or are the rules going to be manipulated based on the circumstances to ensure unilateral power? Are we, as a general public, paying close enough attention to notice when we are being undermined, or are we going to abstain from participation because we have already lost faith in the process?

If you live in Ohio, go vote. Vote for your right to have your voice heard in the process of government and to ensure that decisions are being made thoughtfully with integrity. And if you live outside of the state, pay attention; because Ohio has always been a purple state, setting the tone for what will happen in the rest of the country. As the 2024 election looms large, the future of how politics are run is at stake.

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