Paul Jacob
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Since the dawning of Obama Nation in 2008, Republicans have made significant gains at the state level — historic victories in 2010, and even small gains made last year, which at the federal level was a debacle for the GOP. Republicans now control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion in 25 states; Democrats have such universal control in only 13 states.

“This is significant. While we may expect more of the gridlock in Washington that we have seen over the past two years,” wrote Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason in Politico, “. . . the states, over three-quarters of which are completely controlled by Republicans or Democrats, are unobstructed from moving in whichever direction the party in power chooses.

Republicans, therefore, have many opportunities to connect with the voters, to show voters their best side.

Or, infuriate.

Right now, in a number of state capitols, Republican legislators are at risk of giving up the game by using their legislative power to enact new laws to frustrate and undermine citizen-initiated ballot measures.

To be blunt, neither Republican nor Democrat career politicians much like the idea of citizens having any involvement in politics — save voting for them or mailing them a big, fat check. And the thought of voters making real decisions by proposing and imposing reforms through the citizen initiative or challenging legislative enactments by forcing a voter referendum is absolutely anathema.

But voters very much like making decisions; they know that even their own favored parties and politicians need the discipline of a independent, democratic check. Without initiative and referendum, the citizenry loses all manner of control over runaway spending and taxes, crony corporate welfare schemes, excessive nannyism and government corruption.

No wonder voters don’t like it when politicians try to silence their voice.

But that is precisely what is happening in several Republican-controlled states — none more critical for congressional and also presidential success than Ohio.

Last week, Senate Bill 47 passed the House of Representatives with every Republican member voting yes and every Democrat voting no. Two weeks ago, the bill had passed the state Senate with one Republican (bless him) joining every Democrat in voting no, with every other elephant approving the legislation.

SB 47 would reduce the amount of time initiatives or referendums have to gather signatures from voters, which makes it tougher for voters to get to decide issues.

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Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.