Now, many of our Christians have what I call the "goo-goo syndrome.” Good Government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.
~Paul Weyrich, ALEC Co-Founder, 1980
The yearly holiday tradition has begun- conservative pundits have begun their phony “War on Christmas” rhetoric that they plug away at every December. "Over the years we have taken on the role of protecting the federal holiday of Christmas," Bill O'Reilly began on a recent "Talking Points Memo" segment. O’Reilly refers to the "Happy Holidays Syndrome," which he blames on "creeping secularism and pressure groups like the ACLU.” Promoting this myth of a "War on Christmas" is nothing more than an attempt to boost ratings and play on the religious and cultural fears of Fox viewers.
Forget about the fake "War on Christmas." Much worse is the extreme right-wing’s “War on Good Government,” begun by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the 1980s. ALEC boasts that its corporate and legislative members are “dedicated to the preservation of individual liberty, basic American values, institutional productive free enterprise, and limited representative government.” Limiting our representative government is what Paul Weyrich had in mind when he co-founded ALEC, and ALEC legislators around the nation have been working ever since to make that idea a reality through voter suppression laws.
This year, more than 80 bills have been introduced to make it harder to vote in 31 states, including Ohio. Under the direction of ALEC, the GOP-controlled Ohio Senate hurriedly passed Senate Bill 238 to cut early voting, eliminating the “Golden Week,” a time when Ohio citizens could register and vote on the same day. The Senate also passed Senate Bill 205 to prevent the Secretary of State or counties from mailing absentee ballots to all eligible voters, unless funding is provided by the legislature. The Ohio House, which is also controlled by a large GOP majority of ALEC members, is holding hearings on the bills. These voting restrictions have the potential of negatively impacting millions of voters in Ohio.
“The voting rights community is raising the alarm because these laws in and of themselves are significant, but we fear they are the beginning of a wave of bills to make it harder to vote in Ohio,” says Ellis Jacobs, founder of the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition. As reported by Ari Berman, an investigative writer for The Nation magazine, Jacobs fears that the legislature could soon consider proposals to further cut early voting hours, particularly on weekends when it’s most convenient to vote, along with a strict voter ID law.
Ohio’s unpopular voting restriction bill of 2012, which the legislature repealed after opponents forced a referendum, “is being reintroduced in pieces,” Jacobs says. “It’s an effort to sneak it in under the radar and to make it very hard to overturn by referendum.” Laying groundwork for the voting restriction bills of 2013, the first so-called “election reform” law passed this year by GOP lawmakers and signed by Gov. John Kasich ensured that it will be difficult for Ohioans to challenge their legislation through referendum.
Over thirty years ago, a far-right conservative mocked the idea of democracy through good government by calling it the “goo-goo syndrome,” yet his extreme agenda has infiltrated state legislatures to this day throughout our country. Ohioans must disregard the make-believe "War on Christmas" and focus on fighting the very real "War on Good Government," carried out piecemeal through GOP voter suppression laws. Any attempt to limit our representative government is an absolute threat to the democracy of our state and our nation and should never be tolerated.