Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ulterior motives in ballot issues

According to today's Blade article on the 2008 ballot issues, it's not the issue itself - there's an ulterior motive involved.

In reference to the 'Sick Days Ohio' initiative, Catherine Turcer, of Ohio Citizen Action, says:

“When you can’t get the legislature to take up an important policy issue, you take it to a vote of the people. But we all know these ballot issues affect who goes to the polls and who gets elected.

“Sick leave pulls at the heart strings, and it is so much more likely to bring out Democrats and maybe independents who are left of center,” she said.

Dale Butland, spokesman for the proposed Healthy Families Act, the official name of the proposal that would require employers with 25 or more workers to provide the employees with seven days of sick leave a year to care for themselves and their families, downplays the overall impact such an initiative would have on the presidential elections.

“I know this is the story that all political reporters want to write, that this is our wedge issue like the gay-marriage issue was for Republicans, but we hope the legislature passes this,” he said. “They’ll get this in January, and to that end we are reaching out to Republicans.

“We are prepared to go to the ballot if we have to, but that would be very expensive, and there are a lot of other things to spend money on next year,” he said.

But the impact is clear. If the Republican-led state legislature doesn't adopt this proposal, they're risking the presidential election because the Healthy Families Act will bring out those left of center. And in my conversation with Mr. Butland and others who were in Toledo earlier this year, they made it clear that they want what is in the proposal - not a compromise. They're willing to 'look' at what a Republican-led legislature might propose, but they want what they've put down in writing already.

For the Republicans, this is a lose-lose situation. They can either pass a law that is detrimental to the business climate (which isn't that great in Ohio as it is) and increases the costs of doing business here (big loss to everyone), or they can risk an almost-guaranteed large turn-out of liberal-leaning voters and risk the state's electoral votes for president (another loss).

For the Democrats, it's a win-win. They either get their guaranteed paid sick days for all Ohioans (big win which gives unions a higher baseline when bargaining for paid days off), or they get an almost-guaranteed large turn-out of liberal-leaning voters which would help them win the state's electoral votes for president (another win).

And that's what these groups are counting on ... because the issue is just the by-product - the tool, if you will - to accomplish the ulterior motive: turn Ohio to the Democrats in the 2008 presidential election.

And who can blame them for going this route? They saw what a marriage amendment did for conservative turn-out in 2004, even though there are some who think this was just one of many issues pushing conservative voters to the polls.

Opponents of the measures acknowledged that the proposed amendments might have increased Republican turnout. But they said most of those voters would have gone to the polls anyway, galvanized by a host of social issues, including abortion, stem cell research and gun control.

"From Day 1 of the Bush administration, they have done everything possible to cater to their conservative, evangelical base," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "They were energized to vote for him, and same-sex marriage was just one of those issues that energized them."
~ (source: New York Times article)

Proponents of "Sick Days Ohio" hope the idea of paid sick days will be a similar type of motivator, gaining support of employees, regardless of political affiliation. I suppose it's true when they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Either way and regardless of whether it's a conservative or liberal issue, as a voter, I don't like being used, or manipulated, in this way.

(Note - I was not blogging 2004 and, as a sitting County Commissioner, I did not take a position on the marriage amendment - or any ballot issue - that year.)


Tim Higgins said...


You have once again defined the playing field on an issue, and one has to wonder if there is a true up-side to this issue for someone who believes in the principles of the Founding Fathers.

Government interference with business, legislature manipulation, and voter manipulation by a special interest group. Is this the best that we can hope for?

I would like to think that there is yet a way to escape the prison of incremental loss of freedom that we are being held in, but I fear it will take "Jack Bauer" to get us out of this one.

Robin said...

I'm left of center, and this issue is low on my list of things I will consider when voting.

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