Back to Common Sense at the Polls
November 9, 2011
It might have been “too much too soon,” a chastened Gov. John Kasich of Ohio admitted on Tuesday night, after his state’s voters overwhelmingly rejected his attempt to break public employee unions. He certainly was right about “too much,” an analysis that also applies to other examples of Republican overreach around the country that were kicked into the gutter: an anti-abortion amendment in Mississippi, a voting restriction in Maine, the radical anti-immigrant agenda of a politician in Arizona.
These policies, and similar ones in other states, were passed in an arrogant frenzy by a Tea Party-tide of Republicans elected in 2010. Many of them decided that they had a mandate to dismantle some of the basic protections and restrictions of government. They went too far, and weary voters had to drag them back toward the center.
As a result, Tuesday brought an overdue return of common sense to government policy in many states. Many voters are tired of legislation driven more by ideology than practicality, of measures that impoverish the middle class or deprive people of basic rights in order to prove some discredited economic theory or cultural belief.
That was most evident in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly repealed a law pushed through last spring by Republicans to shred collective-bargaining rights for public employees. It prohibited bargaining on health benefits for state and local workers, including teachers, police officers and firefighters, and made it much harder to collect union dues or negotiate on staffing.
Blue-collar voters in Ohio, many of whom got to the middle class through collective bargaining, understood the game.
It is not clear that Tuesday’s votes add up to a national trend that will have an effect on 2012 or even the deadlock in Congress. But they do offer a ray of hope to any candidate who runs on pragmatic solutions to create jobs and reduce the pressures of inequality on the middle class and the poor.