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Reblogged:Theocrats Bolster Mob Rule in Ohio

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An anti-abortionist conducts a post-mortem on his party's recent failed attempt to prevent abortion from becoming enshrined in Ohio's state constitution:
Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly called the special election earlier this year after a well-funded group of pro-abortion organizations succeeded in getting an amendment on the ballot this November that protects a virtually unlimited right to abortion in the state. If Issue 1 had passed, the abortion amendment would have needed 60 percent of the vote to become law.
At least Shane Harris starts off being honest about why there was a move to raise the bar to amending the state's constitution.

What is more interesting is where he goes next in his 1300-word-plus editorial:
Image by Element5 Digital, via Unsplash, license.
Convincing voters to make a change to a seemingly less democratic process was always going to be a difficult task. Moreover, GOP leaders in the state initially denied that Issue 1 had anything to do with abortion -- a line even the most credulous voter could see right through.

This gave off the unavoidable impression (one encouraged by well-funded liberal groups) that Ohio Republicans were trying to unfairly change the rules at the last minute in order to thwart the democratic will of the people. That notion undoubtedly motivated "No" votes from large numbers of Democrat and Independent voters and likely some Republicans as well who saw the question as more a matter of preserving the principle of "majority rules" rather than a pro-life issue.

To be sure, there is a valid and compelling argument to be made about why writing and amending state constitutions via a simple majority vote is a bad idea. For starters, it allows deep-pocketed special interests to mobilize a relatively small number of voters in low-turnout elections and effectively bypass the legislative process to enact laws that are often far out of sync with where the state is politically -- which is exactly what is happening in Ohio right now. [bold added]
While I was glad in the short term to see that this move didn't kill the attempt to protect abortion via amendment, I am under no illusions about how flimsy that "protection" will be. As Brian Phillips recently argued in the case of California -- and our Founders understood when they created a republic rather than a democracy -- a democracy affords no protection for individual rights against the will of a mob.

That is the "compelling argument" to be made for raising the threshold to amend a state constitution, and it could have made Issue 1 into a winner.

That the Republicans seem not to understand that and are furthemore so bothered by such a small obstacle to their cause, speaks volumes.

Unfortunately Republicans weren't motivated by that better argument. If they were, they wouldn't have waited until an abortion measure looked likely to pass by about the same margin as defeated Issue 1. Indeed, if they cared about individual rights and had a rational case that a fetus is an individual, they could have sought to pass a personhood amendment, then worked to make it harder to amend the state constitution.

That is exactly the opposite of what they did.

The rest of the article is a muddle because: (a) the author never contests the idea of "preserving the people's power" as being synonymous with democracy; and (b) his protestations that the GOP "dance[d] around the abortion issue" while emphasizing other (more rational) stands by the Republicans leading up to the vote ring hollow.

Frankly, given that a majority in Ohio think abortion should be legal and the GOP has only religious dogma behind its assertion that abortion is murder, "dancing around" that issue was about the only hope it had.

Leave it to Republicans to make a genuinely good idea look like a fool's bargain.

When Harris concludes that his side needs to "creat[e] a culture of life," he sounds like he realizes on some level that political change requires cultural change. But cultural change requires individuals to change their minds, one at a time, and "abortion is wrong because god says so" is not an appeal to reason. Perhaps, deep down, many Republicans, Harris included, understand this, and know that shady tactics are their best hope of political success.

In the meantime, a reasonable proposal to make Ohio's state constitution has been a casualty of the crusade against reproductive freedom, and -- as Harris himself notes -- taxpayers will soon be wrongly forced to fund abortions.

-- CAV

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I agree that Measure 1 was a heavy-handed ad hocĀ attempt to maintain abortion restrictions and that we're better off for its failure, but a supermajority requirement for a (state) constitutional amendment might yet be an idea worth another look. Numerous 2/3 or 3/5 rules are already in place in our political system: both branches of congress to override a veto, states to ratify an amendment, senators to end a filibuster. California requires a 2/3 popular vote to raise property taxes.

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