2 parties are not the same

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Political pundits remind us daily that the Democratic Party is facing possible November losses that could be embarrassing. Democrats could lose control of the U.S. Senate, and in Ohio, some have given up on the once promising candidacy of Ed FitzGerald for Governor.

But ordinary people have a lot at stake in this November’s election. It’s not about the politicians, it’s about the people, and what kind of government we get for the next few years.

Democratic prospects might have been good this year in Ohio. Youthful, and experienced in governing, FitzGerald seemed a logical choice to go against the acerbic incumbent John Kasich.

Email newsletter signup

The governor, a former member of Congress, Fox news commentator and banker, had attempted to “break the back of organized labor in the schools,” as he put it, by severely limiting the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public employees. But they dealt him a stunning blow by taking the bargaining issue to the ballot and crushing his plan.

Fitzgerald’s campaign, though, sputtered and stalled when it was revealed that for 10 years he went without a driver’s license. In a campaign where big issues had not been front and center, and with an electorate sometimes lacking an understanding of the two parties, a lot of folks lost interest in the race.

But, elections do matter. To those who don’t pay close attention to politics, it may seem that the two major parties are about the same. However, there are profound differences in what they stand for and what they do when elected.

Education, health care, family income, reproductive rights of women, Social Security, and issues of war and peace are on the line. So is the promise of Kasich to end the state income tax, with resulting lowered local government services, or higher local taxes. And, the possible impeachment of America’s first black president. The election of 2014 will be very important.

Neither party has been very friendly to public education recently, but Republicans have led the way in draining off precious tax resources from our public schools to private charter schools that don’t do as well and are not accountable to us.

Kasich is leading in the polls mainly because Ohio’s economy has improved since 2009, when the housing crash sent the national economy in a tailspin.

But Ohio’s pace of economic recovery ranks near the bottom of the 50 states, and much of the improvement that has occurred was because of the bailout of the auto industry in Ohio and elsewhere — a bailout engineered by President Obama and opposed by Republicans. And if the Republicans win in Ohio and nationally, the minimum wage is unlikely to be raised. Some Republicans want to repeal it altogether.

In the area of health care, Republicans have continued their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare ­— and might have some success at that if they can win a veto-proof majority in the Senate — or succeed in removing Obama from office. Neither seems likely at this point, but the nation could be thrown into 1960s-style turmoil if they actually succeeded in removing the President and repealing the ACA. Under the act, all of us benefit from being guaranteed the right to get health insurance, with no refusal regardless of your physical condition.

In our family we’ve had the usual list — heart disease, cancer, immunity problems, asthma — so, like many folks, we couldn’t get health care on the open market without Obamacare.

More than 10 million Americans have health care now that didn’t. Obamacare also requires insurance companies to spend 80 percent or more of their income on health care. These factors and others have resulted in a slower rate of growth of the nation’s cost of providing health care. These features might all be eliminated if Republicans are successful in November.

Finally, it has to be said that the disastrous war in Iraq was started by the last Republican administration — with some Democrats in support — and the hawks in both parties have made it hard for Obama to extricate the U.S. from the bloodshed in the Middle East, as he has been trying to do.

So, yes, the election of 2014 matters, a lot.


Southern Ohio writer, Jack Burgess, is a retired teacher of American and global studies. He can be reached at 4burgess@roadrunner.com.