Dispatch: tinker around the edges, but don’t really FIX it

This editorial in today’s Columbus Dispatch is infuriating, and represents exactly the kind of timidly inadequate approach to a problem that mirrors President Obama’s. Does anyone really think it’s realistic to work for bipartisanship in this time of hyper-partisan hysteria, while making sure that the special interests on both sides have a seat at the negotiating table? How does that old saying go — democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner? Screw bi-partisanship, what’s needed here is independent non-partisanship, free of both political and commercial pressure to do what’s convenient and profitable for them, rather than what’s effective for the stability and prosperity of the state as a whole.

When I took WSU’s Ohio Government class, there was a minimal assignment called a “campaign plank.” The premise was simple: with the theme of “turn around Ohio,” turn in a paragraph or two (I told you it was minimal) during the last week of the quarter on a way to begin addressing some of the problems that Ohio faces in the new millennium. It could be any idea from any political perspective, and didn’t necessarily have to go into too much detail. Instead of getting a paragraph or two from me, the instructor got thirteen pages proposing a near-total constitutional overhaul as the result of a targeted, pro-convention ballot drive.

Granted, my suggestion went no further than the instructor’s hands, but surely I cannot be the only one in the entire state who sees this as the best solution. Will we get anything that drastic, but effective? No. What we will get is milquetoast offerings like the below proposed “commission,” from opinionators like Mike Curtin. It starts off OK, with an acknowledgement of the glaringly obvious problem, but then follows up with a half-serious suggestion for a few “tweaks,” which special interests (who would have seats at Curtin’s table) will ensure don’t run contrary to their own narrow profit motives. More of the same, in other words.

Ohio could benefit from a state constitutional revision commission.

The state last utilized such a panel in 1971-1977. It was a success. The commission recommended 18 constitutional amendments, 15 of which were adopted by Ohio voters.

[…]

Ohio faces plentiful challenges. Some of them cannot be solved without changes in the state constitution.
Adopted in 1851, it is one of the oldest state constitutions in America and contains many antiquated provisions.

[…]

Ohio has not thoroughly examined its constitution, its basic governing document, in two generations. A new exam is overdue.

[…]

Ohio’s constitutional requirement to ask the voters this question every 20 years follows Thomas Jefferson’s maxim that each generation should have the opportunity to choose its own form of government.

[…]

Ohio has not had a constitutional convention since 1912 and doesn’t need one now. But it does need constitutional revision. [emphasis added – L.]

[…]

The 12 lawmaker members, chosen by legislative leaders, were politically balanced: six Democrats, six Republicans; six Senate members, six House members.

Those 12 chose the other 20 members, who were broadly representative of business, labor, the judiciary and academia.

Political balance is a key to success, because no proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution will be approved by the voters without wide support.

Political balance? In this day and age? HA! Relying on that pipe dream, ladies and gentlemen, is a recipe for FAIL. The state of Ohio does indeed need a Constitutional Convention. If we don’t get one, then we will be forced to continue voting on piecemeal amendments, one after another, in every general election. Some will be valid, but many will be nothing more than bullshit wedge-issue amendments intended as get-out-the-vote measures for one party or the other. “Tweaks” won’t fix that; not on this planet, anyway.

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