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What’s the Matter with Ohio?
National Review ^ | 10/02/2012 | Kevin Holtsberry

Posted on 10/02/2012 5:14:30 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

‘What the !@#$ is going on in Ohio?” This blunt question, posed in a recent e-mail from an out-of-state friend, is on the minds of Republicans across the country.

Answers range from “The polling is cooked and the media are in the tank for Obama” to “Romney just isn’t very likable” or “Ohio’s relative success undermines attacks on the president’s economic record.”

Whatever truth there is to these explanations, I believe that something deeper is also involved: Many in Ohio desperately want to return to what Walter Russell Mead calls “the blue model.” Obama and his allies are willing to reinforce, and capitalize on, this mistaken longing, while Romney struggles to offer a compelling alternative vision.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Mead offers this succinct description:

In the old system, most blue-collar and white-collar workers held stable, lifetime jobs with defined benefit pensions, and a career civil service administered a growing state as living standards for all social classes steadily rose. Gaps between the classes remained fairly consistent in an industrial economy characterized by strong unions in stable, government-brokered arrangements with large corporations. . . . High school graduates were pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment in a job that provided a comfortable lower middle-class lifestyle; college graduates could expect a better paid and equally secure future. An increasing “social dividend”, meanwhile, accrued in various forms: longer vacations, more and cheaper state-supported education, earlier retirement, shorter work weeks, more social and literal mobility, and more diverse forms of affordable entertainment. Call all this, taken together, the blue model.

Ohioans view this system with nostalgia: thriving manufacturing, Fortune 500 companies, and growing cities and schools. It’s a world that has largely slipped away.

In fact, Ohio has been an economic laggard for decades as jobs moved to the South and the West, in the chase for lower labor costs and less-onerous government (among other things). The first decade of this century hit it particularly hard.

From 2000 to 2010, Ohio lost over 600,000 private-sector jobs, and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans left the state. (In 2013, Ohio will have its fewest congressional representative since before the Civil War.) Productivity has increased manufacturing output as jobs have disappeared. Corporations with long histories in Ohio have left. Students educated at Ohio’s colleges and universities look elsewhere when planning their future.

While the blue model has largely disappeared from the private sector, and is increasingly untenable in the public sector, a great many Ohioans cling to it nonetheless. And there is a still-powerful political coalition determined to defend and even expand it.

Unions obviously have every incentive to do so. Government unions make up more than half of union membership and exercise great political clout. Ohio is in many ways their hill to die on. Witness the ferocity, and fundamental dishonesty, of last year’s Senate Bill 5 ( Issue 2) campaign.

So what does this have to do with Mitt Romney? Well, as John Ellis pointed out back in April, President Obama has doubled down on the blue model, and Romney has yet to offer an alternative.

The General Motors bailout, for example, allowed Obama to rescue the unions at the expense of taxpayers and non-union workers. But he has campaigned as if the bailout single-handedly saved the entire auto industry and Ohio’s economy.

In contrast, the GOP has had a hard time offering a compelling picture of what a post-blue-model world looks like. What happens when GM is allowed to fail? Not the destruction of the auto industry but its reformation into something more competitive and flexible. The GOP has waffled on the issue, and polls show the Democrats have largely won on it.

The intense focus on China is another example of this contrast in visions. Free trade is largely a political loser in Ohio. Most voters simply refuse to believe that productivity and union inflexibility have more to do with jobs leaving the state than does China. So Romney talks tough and seeks to blame Obama for unfair trade practices. This may be the optimal strategy in the short term, but it reinforces the blue model rather than helps voters to see the future.

And conservative politicians and activists are not necessarily any better in this regard. Many are still focused on mantras about “lower taxes” and “smaller government,” as if the very words could magically win elections.

Promises about smaller government don’t directly address the fears of voters worried about their economic future in a fast-paced, high-tech, globalized economy. If voters believe that teachers, cops, and firefighters form the foundation of the middle class, then neither smaller government nor tax cuts will automatically appeal to them. In fact, many have repeatedly chosen higher taxes in response to proposed cuts to schools and public safety.

It isn’t that Romney and conservatives should defend bloated government or high taxes. Rather, we must address voters’ real fears. We must explain to them not only that the blue model is dying, and that propping it up prolongs and deepens the pain, but that a dynamic, decentralized, and free-market-driven economy will mean a better life for their families, their businesses, and their communities.

Republicans must convince voters that the president is unwilling to tell them the truth: that his policies reward political allies and contributors while undermining prosperity, and that Obama is moving the country not forward but backward — backward to a system that can no longer work.

Far too many Ohioans are tempted to keep muddling along rather than embrace this new landscape.

Romney has the opportunity to inspire them to embrace genuine change. He can convince Ohioans that he understands the economy as it exists and that, instead of doubling down on debt and stagnation, he has a plan to align America with economic reality in a way that releases innovation and prosperity.

— Kevin Holtsberry is a freelance writer and consultant living in Columbus, Ohio.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: florida; ohio
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1 posted on 10/02/2012 5:14:33 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t believe that Ohio will go for Obama because he barely won Ohio in 2008. However, now that the Republicans are leaving the state because they are not registering Repulbicans anymore because the company they hired turned out to be a dud. I don’t know what affect that will have on the state. Why the Republicans can’t find a company that will register Republicans without problems is beyond me. They are leaving Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Nevada too....Not a good sign at all.

2 posted on 10/02/2012 5:17:03 AM PDT by napscoordinator (GOP Candidate 2020 - "Bloomberg 2020 - We vote for whatever crap the GOP puts in front of us.")
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To: SeekAndFind
Thirteen of Ohio's eighteen House seats are held by Republicans and yet Romney's allegedly gonna get crushed there? Have things gotten that much better in Ohio in the last 23 months? Something's smelly here,I'd say.
3 posted on 10/02/2012 5:19:17 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Ambassador Stevens Is Dead And The Chevy Volt Is Alive!)
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To: napscoordinator

This company is not the registration operation, just a small part or so I think.

4 posted on 10/02/2012 5:20:55 AM PDT by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: napscoordinator

Don’t underestimate the political impact of the GM bailout. A lot of Ohionians either work for or depend on the Auto industry. It really didn’t help that Obama bailed out GM while Romney said let it go bankrupt. That’s powerful.

The other thing is that the unemployment rate in Ohio is now better than the national average. It won’t be that way when the current recession worsens, but most people don’t think that far ahead.

5 posted on 10/02/2012 5:21:50 AM PDT by rbg81
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To: SeekAndFind
The Obamabots in Ohio give Obama credit for Kasich’s successes.
6 posted on 10/02/2012 5:22:39 AM PDT by originalbuckeye
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To: SeekAndFind

This gets to the central problem the GOP has. They have no clear, coherent plan as an alternative.

The GOP’s entire message in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns has been:

“Vote for us! We suck less!”

The GOP needs to end it’s infatuation with Ivy League pinheads who buy into the conventional wisdom in DC:

- that Americans benefit from “free trade.”
- that we can continue to fund the entitlements Medicare and Social Security with the demographic bulge in claimants outweighing those paying taxes to fund these programs.
- that we can continue to fund the military footprint we have
- that we still need troops in Europe so long after WWII
- and in Japan
- and in S. Korea, when S. Korea is playing footsie with the Nork’s under the table.
- that immigration is a positive economic influence on the US economy.
- that a service-based economy is sustainable
- that the Ryan plan will ever balance the budget
- tax breaks for this, that and every other thing for those who have the lobbying power in DC

etc, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with being stupid, but it is unseemly to be proud of being stupid, and the GOP is insanely proud of being stupid on steroids.

What we need are leaders who are going to focus on the #1 problem underlying everything: The level of insane spending. All of it needs to be cut. There are no ‘sacred cows.’ The GOP seems to think that cutting even one dime of the DOD’s budget is tantamount to surrender in whatever war we’re currently flogging in the media. The brutal truth is that the DOD is hugely wasteful. I could cut $100B out of the DOD budget without blinking an eye, just by getting rid of projects that will never see battle.

If a candidate has the intellectual horsepower, (and most of them do not) then we should discuss how we’ve hollowed out the US economy and we’re exporting our wealth to our creditors, and this is a result of systemic trade imbalances that are a result of economic policies put into place in DC.

But... we’re never going to see that. We’re going to do a full-throttle controlled flight into terrain, in large measure due to the GOP failing to get some leadership that is actually fiscally conservative.

7 posted on 10/02/2012 5:26:06 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: originalbuckeye

RE: Kasich’s successes.

Can anyone name them for us?

How has Ohio improved since 2010?

8 posted on 10/02/2012 5:28:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: SeekAndFind; Gay State Conservative

So far . . . Another day, another update . . , OH absentee voting shows TITANIC shift from Dems and increase in Rs.every county, save two with very small total #s, is showing a 5-point to 30-point swing from 08. Some big counties like Hamilton and Summit show very big swings R

9 posted on 10/02/2012 5:29:25 AM PDT by LS ("Castles Made of Sand, Fall in the Sea . . . Eventually (Hendrix))
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To: SeekAndFind

An explanation for this sleazy article:

The RINO National Review is pining for the days of the fascist FDR. The commies at NR had to scrape the leftist gutters to find a sophist to write this garbage.

10 posted on 10/02/2012 5:29:25 AM PDT by sergeantdave (The FBI has declared war on the Marine Corps)
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To: SeekAndFind

I think this theory has some validity. But, also:

1. O HAS take sole credit for saving the Ohio auto assembly and parts manufacturing industry which is or was a significant source of “auto worker” jobs. He is essentially unchallenged on this.

2. O is running an ad that has Mitt saying he would have allowed GM to go bankrupt, while he is smiling. In fact GM did go through bankruptcy, but as we know the unions made out like bandits.

3. All of Ohio’s statwide elected officials are Republican, but they are laying low. Gov Kasich is more interested in reviving his image so he can win in 2014. Former U S Senator Mike Deine is Attorney General but he is invisible.

4. Ohio has an oil boom in northeastern quadrant due to fracking. This has helped economy. Gov Kasich has made reforms to also help economy. O has taken sole credit for Ohio’s jobs comeback. Again, unchallenged

5. O, Moochelle and Bite-me have been in Ohio constantly since they lack day jobs.

6. O just gave some kind of 6 month extension on a uranium enrichment plant in south central Ohio which provides potential for keeping a lot of jobs. This has been a political football for years. But the short breath of life offered is being touted to the max. O has saved us (again, he cares, etc.)

7. Media is bitterly biased for O

11 posted on 10/02/2012 5:29:46 AM PDT by shalom aleichem
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To: SeekAndFind
Too much 0bma Ph0ne?
12 posted on 10/02/2012 5:42:44 AM PDT by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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To: NVDave
“Vote for us! We suck less!”

Unfortunately not all that much less.
13 posted on 10/02/2012 6:02:14 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: napscoordinator
I'm not sure what you mean by a "company that will register Republicans."

On the other hand, your point about conservatives leaving is well-taken. People are voting with their feet and leaving liberal states. The good news is that eventually only the nonproductive dependent hoardes will remain and the welfare state will collapse under it's own weight. We are seeing this playing out in Michigan right now.

The bad news is that when companies relocate to conservative states, they bring many liberal employees and their families with them. This is what ruined Northern Virginia. Hundreds of thousands of libs from New York and California came to NoVA for work in the nineties and converted it from a conservative bastion into Jersey on the Potomac. There is a solution for this problem. Corprorations that value working in a free market should "travel light" when they move.

14 posted on 10/02/2012 6:08:02 AM PDT by jboot (This isn't your father's America. Stay safe and keep your powder dry.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Voter distrubution could account for that. Say 5 districts are 95% Dem, and 13 are 51% Pub, as an example. But I think Romney will win OH.

15 posted on 10/02/2012 6:21:04 AM PDT by Hugin ("Most times a man'll tell you his bad intentions, if you listen and let yourself hear."---Open Range)
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To: rbg81
180,000 of the 235,000 jobs that obama claims that he saved at gm were in china... now wake up those people in Ohio and send them to You Tube to watch the ceo of gm explain all of their plans to shutdown in the US and move all operations to china. 8 out of 10 vehicles today are built in china... all transmissions and rear ends are now made there... and Cadillac R&D is leaving Flint next year... for Beijing.


16 posted on 10/02/2012 6:24:40 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer ("if it looks like you are not gonna make it you gotta get mean, I mean plumb mad-dog mean" J. Wales)
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To: cripplecreek

Well, that’s why real conservatives were and still are, so tepid on Romney.

It’s like that classic episode of South Park: Who will you vote for? A turd sandwich or a douche?

Stanley gets sent into exile because he says “I don’t like either of them!”

17 posted on 10/02/2012 6:26:21 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: SeekAndFind
That "blue model" sounds like what an awful lot of folks along the river banks here in Western PA yearn for.

"We can bring back the days of Big Steel, with the high union wage, the benefits, the retirement, the growing schools, the prosperity....if ONLY we could elect the RIGHT politician!

18 posted on 10/02/2012 6:32:15 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: rbg81
Don’t underestimate the political impact of the GM bailout.

The technical term for this is "National Industrial Policy". And the rust belt has had no shortage of people calling for one since the mid-1970's.

19 posted on 10/02/2012 7:00:06 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: SeekAndFind
Mitt should point out that there already exists an example of the "blue model" successfully at work..and right next door to's called


20 posted on 10/02/2012 7:01:53 AM PDT by ken5050 (Laura Ingraham:"If the GOP can't beat Obama in this economy; shut down the party!")
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