Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ohio and the perception of fairness

On the heals of Election Night 2011, political pundits are working hard to find a way to present the results as indicative of something important, with regard to which "side" is winning and will win in 2012. On the Left, the defeat of a union-busting law in Ohio and an anti-abortion initiative in Mississippi are the prime pieces of evidence, the stuff that really matters. On the Right, it's the results in Virginia--where repubs looks poised to gain control of the State Senate--and the like that are most significant.

That's all good and well--posturing for the sake of ideology--but let's look a little closer at Ohio. There was another ballot issue there, as well. It was an amendment--largely symbolic--that would exempt citizens from being required to participate in any healthcare plan/system. That's right, it was another shot across the bow of Obamacare. And it passed. Consider this carefully, in light of all the headlines trumpeting Ohio as a "big win" for the democrats.

The healthcare measure was backed primarily by Republicans and tea party groups, the same groups that mostly opposed rescinding the anti-union legislation. So what's going on, here? Neither side got what they wanted across the board in Ohio, at all. Ideology didn't trump everything else, nor did the letters "R" and "D."

I think--as is often the case--the correct explanation is the simplest explanation: people voted for what they thought was fair, and their opinion in this regard was influenced by how the two measures were marketed by supporters and detractors.

People opposed to the anti-union legislation simply presented it as a case of the government stripping away the rights of workers. While people that supported the healthcare measure presented it as something that would prevent more government involvement in their private lives.

In the light, the Ohio votes are referendums not on Republicans or Democrats, but on government involvement and personal freedom. Voters voted against government involvement in both cases.

Looks like a win for one side, after all.

Cheers, all.

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