The northeast Ohio area is deep blue, particularly heavily urban Cuyahoga County, which is decidedly multiracial. In recent decades, it has elected some of the most Progressive politicians in government, among them Dennis Kucinich and Sherrod Brown. After four terms, the Democratic National Committee gerrymandered Representative Kucinich out of his district in favor of a more vanilla choice. Dennis was a scrapper and refused to back down; hence, his unpopularity with bought-and-sold centrist Dems. Senator Brown, however, still ably represents his constituents and can be counted on to espouse most progressive ideas, while not coming across as the kind of firebrand we saw in Dennis or see in Bernie Sanders.
The central and southern portions of the state, though, are a totally different story. Columbus and Cincinnati are red bastions, though each has a large urban footprint. The TFG (the former guy, the ex-President) signs there and in the rural sectors last fall were innumerable. Those parts of the state gave us the spineless GOP toady Senator Rob Portman and the maniac Congressman Jim Jordan (western Ohio; i.e., farm country). Portman, like his colleagues, hid behind a debunked technicality in his “nay” impeachment conviction vote last week. Jordan probably would have been with the Capitol invaders on January 6th, if he hadn’t been on the House floor, in the midst of attempting to overturn the Presidential election results. He makes me cringe at the thought of occupying the same state as he does. The Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, is another GOP sycophant. He did lead the nation in some of the pandemic lockdowns, but promptly knuckled under to TFG’s pressure and opened the state too soon, leading to summer and fall surges in virus cases. Following the insurrection, he did some hand wringing about the awfulness of events, but stopped well short of placing the blame where it belonged, on TFG.
On balance, then, Ohio has been a red state for decades. Those of us in the island of blue do our utmost to change the status quo, but we’re woefully outnumbered. As an example, we’ve signed petition after petition, written to state representatives, written the governor, made phone calls, all in the effort of shutting down the hazardous Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. Closing the plant was one of Congressman Kucinich’s causes, and he fought reactivation of the plant tooth and nail after it had been shuttered due to its decrepit condition. Last summer, the story broke that the Speaker of the Ohio House, Larry Householder, had taken a $60 million bribe to ram a bailout for Davis-Besse and its sister plant, Perry, through the legislature. This payoff was the largest in Ohio history. When the effluvia hit the air circulation system, there was a scramble to “do” something. The Dems eventually stepped up to push for a repeal of the bailout, but so far, the effort has stalled, predictably stonewalled by the GOP.
So here we of the blue persuasion sit, along the southeast-central shore of Lake Erie, fighting the good fight but stymied at every turn by the rest of our state. It’s endlessly frustrating, a truly thankless task.
Sort of like the inhabitants of Houston and Austin, who vote blue but are overwhelmed by the supporters of Fled Ted (Cruz) and Governor Greg Abbott. We in Cleveland have to worry about nuclear meltdowns and potential radioactive breezes, while the citizens of Texas are in a real-time deep freeze. The actions of the GOP officials and their energy corporation cronies have plunged much of the state into a cold, lethal hell. Many proponents of Texas’ modern secession from the Union are now gratefully accepting FEMA aid. The people in the blue enclaves are venting shivering, “I told you so’s,” while craven GOP devotees like Faux News and Greg Abbott are busy pointing fingers at renewable energy facilities, ginning up ridiculous lies. Senator Cruz merely chose to flee the inhospitable conditions, abandoning his state (and his dog) in its days of need.
At first, I was of the opinion that conditions should be set before aid was rendered to Texas; for instance, at minimum, the state would have guarantee refurbishment of its electrical infrastructure, winterizing gas wells and pumping stations, along with all other mechanisms related to energy supply. And make Texas lawmakers apologize for their conduct. Make Cruz appear on the Senate floor and take back all his slings and arrows. I still think such conditions should apply.
The issue, however, is that the people who voted for sane policies can’t be separated from the ones who remain Cruz-ers despite the debacle this week. There isn’t going to be an attempt to oust either the junior senator or the governor; both will likely win re-election next time. Can we as a country refuse to help Texas because a majority of its people make stupid choices? It’s tempting to say, “Hell, yeah!” After all, this is the state that filed suit to nullify the election results in six swing states. Its representatives were vocal in their opposition to helping the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy hit, the storm of the century (kinda like this week’s ice storm in Texas….). This is the state that goes through cycles of secessionism: they don’t want to be part of the United States anymore.
But the majority of the country isn’t the GOP and doesn’t have the same callousness. Joe Biden, unlike TFG, isn’t going to make Texas officials kiss his ring before he sends help. He has already declared the state a disaster area, allowing for mobilization of all possible aid. He didn’t hold back because its junior senator tried to assure he never took office, or because, despite its disdain for the rest of the country, Texas gets more per annum in federal funds than it pays in. Because we are the “United” States, we’re obligated to send assistance. Even if the people in places other than Houston and Austin turn around and slam reasonable government initiatives. Yes, we have to help in this crisis. But if Texas doesn’t help itself going forward, there should be a limit to the handouts it can expect. As a resident of a blue area, I certainly wouldn’t want to be tarred with Jim Jordan’s brush. Neither, though, would I fault the blue states for looking down on the greedy, foolish behavior of a Larry Householder. The scorn and hatred Jim Jordan exhibits quite naturally assure that more-rational people are reluctant to reward his brand of delusion. That’s the price I pay for living in Ohio. I’ve worked to change that situation for over 45 years, but I don’t expect enlightenment for my state any time soon. Nor, I’m sure, do the residents of Houston and Austin.
Correction: the original post of this article erroneously identified Texas’ governor as David Abbott.