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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ohio With Two Zeros: What's in a Name

It's hard to find a "Wonderful Town" in Ohio anymore. In a state with bookend "O's" in the name, it seems like the total sum of Ohio's political appeal equals zero.

Rosalind Russell sang "why-O why-O why-O, why did I ever leave Ohio?" in the 1953, musical show "Wonderful Town".
But, unfortunately, there's not much that's wonderful about Ohio anymore.  Cleveland, the state's largest city, is obviously declining while right wing leaders, US House speaker Rep. John Beohner and the state's governor John Kasich have done virtually nothing to improve the state's dour facade.

It seems like the two "O's" in Ohio are like symmetrically political black holes, where images of urban decline and political right wing extremism are sucking the state into eternal darkness.

One has to wonder, if Boehner and Kasich are such wonderful leaders, why, with their considerable political clout, is Cleveland not thriving?  An eduational photo essay at provides a gallery of artistic landmark images depicting Cleveland's decline.

Speaker Boehner, who represent Ohio's 8th Congressional District, is masterful at leading right wing obstructionism in the Congress but he won't vote to support federal expenditures to fund bridge repairs in his home state.

Governor Kasich doesn't seem to mind being the focus of voting rights groups who advocate for lifting restrictions on access to polling places on election days.  It seems like democracy in Ohio has "zero tolerance" for Democrats.  Otherwise, polling places in heavily Democratic districts would operate under the same regulations and during the same times as all state voting districts. Nevertheless, for nefarious political reasons, Democratic voting districts are shut down before all the registered voters have had a chance to cast their ballots.  Nonetheless, Kasich isn't concerned that his state looks more like a developing world country living under a despot, than a democracy, when election times roll around.

abductor and kidnapper Ariel Castro is an example of how Cleveland's urban decline has undermined community pride. How else could this sick man have kept three women and a child under lock and key, in plain sight, unless the community was simply numb to the local human condition?  This situation is symptomatic, in my opinion, of low community morale, compounded by urban decline.

So, the "why-o, why-o, why-o" in the song about Ohio might just as well be a wail for help.  Ohioans can't feel good about themselves, when much news about them is negative. Maybe, if Ohio replaced its grim looking political leadership, it could experience a resurgence of hope in the state's future.  Changing the faces of Boehner and Kasich will do no harm and might even help.

Ohio's state motto is "With God All Things are Possible". Perhaps this is a mystical acknowledgement that it will likely take a divine miracle to turn the two zeros in the state's name into optimistic opportunities. Certainly, the bookend "O's" in the state's name shouldn't represent political sink holes. Rather, the two O's should be openings into the future of progressive state politics and transcending right wing control exerted by Boehner and Kasich. 

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