George Will

     Since 2000, Ohio leads the nation in losing persons 14-to-44 -- ``the drivers of growth" -- and Blackwell says ``we're in an economic death cycle," with tax increases fueling the spending spree. If Bush loses Ohio, that will be because the state lost so many jobs while it moved, under Taft, from 14th to third on the Tax Foundation's list of states with the worst state and local tax burdens.

     Ohio's Appalachian southeast leans Democratic, but Bush ran well there in 2000, partly because of guns and other social issues, which this year include same-sex marriage. There is an ongoing duel in the courts to determine whether a proposed amendment to the state constitution, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, will be on the November ballot. It would pull conservatives to the polls.

     Republicans may need that. Because Taft roils Republicans, he is an uncertain asset for Bush, and because Blackwell vociferously objects to Taft, Blackwell says ``they (the Bush campaign) use me out of state more than in the state."

     In Ohio, where the ideological heat is largely among rival Republicans, Goode and ACT are manifestations of relative political ``normalcy," a word with an Ohio pedigree. It was inserted into America's vernacular by a small-town Ohio newspaper editor turned U.S. senator. In 1920 Warren Harding was elected president by promising Americans, who were weary of war and attempts to universalize democratic values, a return to normalcy.

     Michael Barone, author of The Almanac of American Politics, says Ohio, the 17th state, is ``an epitome of American normalcy." As well it should be because it was, Barone says, ``the first entirely American state." The original 13 had been British colonies and the next three -- Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee -- were created from their claimed territories.

     In the 1930s and 1940s, Ohio was the cockpit of America's ideological conflict, as Ohio Sen. Robert Taft succeeded, with the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, in limiting the power of organized labor that had grown muscular in struggles to unionize Ohio's auto, steel and tire factories. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.

     As the nation navigates a dangerous epoch, its choice of the next president, who might have to deal with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and North Korea selling them, might turn on a sales tax increase in Ohio.

Good grief.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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