The vote totals on two different statewide referenda in Ohio on Tuesday offer ample evidence of what is currently troubling to the nation’s citizenry.
In overwhelming numbers – roughly 66 percent in both cases – voters rejected Issue 2, an attempt to deny public employees the right to bargain collectively, and by the same overwhelming majority rejected the individual mandate that would require them to purchase insurance under the health care reform law passed by Congress.
The media punditocracy variously described these results as evidence of advantage to either Democrats of Republicans, depending on the political leaning of the “pundit.” But none took note of the underlying force of opinion that appears to have animated identical voting behavior by voters on two very disparate referenda, both of which pitted the political parties against each other.
People are simply revolting against centralized authority that attempts to deny them the final say in their own well being, whether the issue is their right to a voice in their economic affairs or their right to choose whether or not they invest in health insurance.
As a lifelong advocate for workers’ rights, it would be nice to conclude that the resounding defeat of Issue 2 betokens renewed support for unions, but there is much evidence in current survey research to suggest otherwise.
It is not a renewed regard for collective bargaining, one suspects, that caused an overwhelming majority of Ohioans to reject Issue 2, but rather a growing fear that everyday citizens are being rendered voiceless by the dogmatic dictates of elected officials, few of whom appear to be free from the grip of powerful interests.
The public is crying out for a voice on matters in which they feel increasingly voiceless, whether that outcry is the anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party or the growing presence of Occupy Wall Street in 70 cities across the nation.
Rebellion against a political plutocracy deaf to calls for collaborative problem solving is in the air, and growing louder with each passing day.
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