Ohioans are making a big mistake. Actually, this could be a huge mistake if Chris Littleton and the Ohio Tea Party get their wish and sneak a right-to-work initiative on the ballot in November.
It is safe to say that the Tea Party diametrically opposes President Obama’s policies, which is why many Republicans are confused as to why they are trying so damn hard to get him re-elected. It is no secret that Ohio will be a swing state come November, and an important one at that. It is also common knowledge that Ohio has deep roots in the manufacturing industry, and still maintains a soft spot for unions and labor organizations.
Just this past November, the people of Ohio handily rejected SB 5, right-to-work legislation backed by Republican governor John Kasich. In fact, the vote was not even close. SB 5 was repealed by popular referendum, with 61% voting in favor of the repeal. Big Labor groups such as the AFL-CIO and “We are Ohio” dedicated huge sums of money to the repeal effort, and their message took root in blue-collar neighborhoods around the state. Instead of taking the hint, “Ohioans for Workplace Freedom,” a pro right-to-work organization, has decided to redouble its efforts.
The victory in November breathed life back into an embattled Democratic Party that suffered heavily in the 2010 election. The Ohio Tea Party needs to take note: the labor issue is a losing one for conservatives. A Quinnipiac Pollcurrently shows that a small majority of Ohioans favor the idea of a right-to-work initiative on the ballot in November. However, this would be disastrous for the Republican Party.
Right-to-work zealots believe this poll shows that the public has suddenly changed sides in the fight, when, in reality, the fight has not even begun. The repeal of SB 5 illustrates just how receptive independent voters in Ohio are to the messages of Big Labor. The money that labor groups will pour into the race will not only bury the referendum, but also Republican candidates. Bottom line: if the right-to-work initiative makes it on the ballot in November, it will cost Republicans seats in Congress, and possibly the presidency.
Nobody on the right is arguing the ideological merit of the right-to-work movement – it fits nicely into conservatism. However, there is another theme that pervades conservatism: getting results. Republicans vaunt the power of the free market and the private sector because those realms necessitate results and allow the best and the brightest to flourish. Many Republicans in Congress are self-made small business owners, elected because they have succeeded by the merit of their hard work.
Losing multiple seats to Democrats and granting President Obama a second term is certainly not the sort of result that Ohio conservatives are looking for. “Ohioans for Workplace Freedom” needs to shelve their efforts until the stakes are not so high – Ohio and the country cannot afford to lose.