Posted originally in the Columbus Dispatch, Saturday, March 2, 2013 – link.
In his Sunday op-ed column “Republicans need to stand up to band of rigid intimidators,”Dispatch Senior Editor Joe Hallett articulated some scathing criticism of Ohio’s conservative grass-roots movement and, more important, our democracy.
Responding to the Ohio Liberty Coalition’s recent call to hold elected officials accountable for how they vote on Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, Hallett called us “rigid intimidators” and labeled us a “fringe” group.
However, if standing firm on our principles makes us rigid and advocating for the peaceful repair of our state at the ballot box makes us intimidating, we will wear those labels with pride. Hallett’s clear opinion is that holding elected officials accountable in the only manner our democracy allows is somehow illegitimate or rigid.
He should know that elected officials care mostly about getting re-elected. Subjecting that re-election to doubt is a vital way Ohioans can fight back against the entrenched interests on both the right and the left, as well as the partisan concerns of the political parties. Hallett, though disagreeing on the issue, should cheer our effort to hold elected officials accountable.Individuals from the many groups in our coalition largely swept Republicans into power in Ohio in 2010, including Kasich. Our groups played an instrumental role in helping volunteers collect more than 440,000 signatures to put the Health Care Freedom Amendment on the 2011 ballot. This initiative, the only time Ohioans have had a direct opportunity to reject any part of the federal-government takeover of health care in our state, won with 66 percent of the vote and passed in all 88 counties. We object to the government takeover of health care in Ohio and the fiscally irresponsible growth of government entitlements.
In addition, we wholly reject the governor’s proposed Medicaid expansion. No matter how the issue is spun, the money for this expansion is not ours and it is not compassionate to accept it. It was not created by greater efficiency, innovation or increased productivity in health care. These funds come directly out of the entitlement pipeline bankrupting our nation. Hallett’s piece parrots Kasich’s talking points about how opposition ignores the “least among us,” the “poor” and the “vulnerable,” and that “almost every thoughtful group” endorses Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion.
There is nothing compassionate or moral about placing more Ohioans struggling to get by into a government program that gets poor results for recipients. Hallett failed to note opposition to the expansion from groups such as Cato, the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute, Opportunity Ohio, the Buckeye Institute, Freedomworks, Americans for Prosperity and a plethora of Republican governors and legislators in other states.
Make no mistake, the grass roots in Ohio are stronger, more organized, more experienced and more effective than ever before. We may not have been able to tip the scale in a rock-star, cult-of-personality presidential election. But know this: We absolutely can slam-dunk a primary.
Know also that we will support and defend energetically the legislators who uphold the freedom, individual rights and prosperity of the people of our state.
President Ohio Liberty Coalition