Guest post by Carl Dorsch
Last week I attended a Tea Party meeting in Hamilton County, specifically to listen to one presentation, but came away distressed by another, one on the Right to Work issue.
Now, I fully favor the enactment of Right to Work legislation. But I was appalled at the nonsense being put forth by one Jeff Longstreth, who’s connected to the Ohio Liberty Council, the state Tea Party coordinating group. Longstreth, who I expect is a fine fellow, gave a Power Point presentation reviewing an Ohio public opinion poll someone had recently commissioned on Right to Work.
Now why anyone would have spent a dime on such a survey is beyond me. Polls of this nature have been done nationwide by the hundreds since the 1950’s, and they always show exactly the same results – which thousands of well-meaning individuals have been misinterpreting for decades.
In this situation, Longstreth conveyed the position that the Ohio Liberty Council has been circulating since the November defeat of Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5). They argue Issue 2’s defeat, when seen with Issue 3’s passage (the HealthCare measure), shows voters are heavily concerned with fairness. They figure voters didn’t like Issue 2 because they saw it as unfairly threatening to the collective bargaining rights of some. Meanwhile, the same voters liked Issue 3, since it purported to protect the health care rights of everyone. Therefore, as the Ohio Liberty Council sees it, if the Tea Party folks put forward referendums that can be wrapped up in the rhetoric of fairness, like Right to Work, then the voters will happily back them. As evidence of this, Longstreth pointed to the results of this new whiz-bang opinion poll.
Now if you wish to know the details of this poll, then you can easily find similar polls online (any of them will do – here’s a recent one cited by the National Right to Work Committee). For Longstreth, the part of the results that really knocked his socks off was where members of union-households, when asked, indicated they were overwhelmingly in favor Right to Work as a policy.
In light of this, Longstreth all but claimed an Ohio Right to Work referendum can’t help but be passed, as long as Tea Party folks push the fairness angle (as opposed, to say, the economic arguments). Longstreth then touched upon the bogus “free-rider” arguments union lobbyists had historically made, explaining that they couldn’t stand up to the fairness issue. My head was hurting at this point.
When Longstreth came around to his finish and opened things up for comments, I felt compelled to respond with some reality. First off, I noted that in this November’s election, the number one issue for the Tea Party folks has to be the defeat of Barack Obama. As others have correctly argued (Bytor, for one), trotting out Right to Work would only stir up a key part of the Democrat activist base, exactly when we should most prefer them to stay relatively inactive.
Secondly, Longstreth was painting an entirely wrong picture. He talked about putting union officials on the defensive about fairness – which is utter nonsense. As I explained, the union bosses aren’t going to spend their money arguing about fairness. Instead, we would see endless black-and-white television commercials showing scary footage of empty factories behind padlocked gates, with people tearfully explaining how they (supposedly) lost their jobs due to Right to Work laws. It will frighten the dickens out of all sorts of people associated with union households, and will stoke up most of Obama’s union supporters. Why would we want to do this when we may have one, and only one chance to stop ObamaCare before it tips over this nation?
I went on to say, the smart and prudent thing was to pursue a Right to Work law through the General Assembly. Immediately others argued we couldn’t count on the legislators. I responded that was all the more reason to go through the legislature. Put the legislators on the spot with roll call votes. If they vote the wrong way, then turn those guys out in the next election. As a result, we would end up with a Right to Work law, and in the General Assembly, fewer Democrats and fewer wimp Republicans.
Longstreth then said, practically speaking, it couldn’t be done legislatively. I pointed out, they just did it in neighboring Indiana. Yes, he conceded, but that’s because the public can’t put forward referendums in Indiana. I said that made no sense. Was he saying the Indiana legislators put up a Right to Work bill and passed it because they knew voters couldn’t do so through a referendum? At about that point, it was hurriedly announced the discussion had to be closed down, since so much else was on the agenda.
So okay, I’ve had my say. As for you, if you have any influence with any of the Tea Party gatherings, please speak up about the need to pull back from this Right to Work referendum madness.