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State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy []


By Jane Mayer, Illustration: Alex Merto, The New Yorker, August 15, 2022

As the Supreme Court anticipated when it overturned Roe v. Wade, the battle over abortion rights is now being waged state by state. Nowhere is the fight more intense than in Ohio, which has long been considered a national bellwether. The state helped secure the Presidential victories of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, then went for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Its residents tend to be politically moderate, and polls consistently show that a majority of Ohio voters support legal access to abortion, particularly for victims of rape and incest. Yet, as the recent ordeal of a pregnant ten-year-old rape victim has illustrated, Ohio’s state legislature has become radically out of synch with its constituents. In June, the state’s General Assembly instituted an abortion ban so extreme that the girl was forced to travel to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy. In early July, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana obstetrician who treated the child, told me that she had a message for Ohio’s legislature: “This is your fault!”

Longtime Ohio politicians have been shocked by the state’s transformation into a center of extremist legislation, not just on abortion but on such divisive issues as guns and transgender rights. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who served as governor between 2007 and 2011, told me, “The legislature is as barbaric, primitive, and Neanderthal as any in the country. It’s really troubling.” When he was governor, he recalled, the two parties worked reasonably well together, but politics in Ohio “has changed.” The story is similar in several other states with reputations for being moderate, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania: their legislatures have also begun proposing laws so far to the right that they could never be passed in the U.S. Congress.

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The First Past The Post electoral system, which both the U.S. and Canada use, barely qualifies as democratic rule within the democracy spectrum.

FPTP does seem to serve corporate lobbyists well, however. I believe it is why power/corporate interests generally resist attempts at changing from FPTP to proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which dilutes corporate influence. Low-representation FPTP-elected governments, in which a relatively small portion of the country's populace is actually electorally represented, are likely the easiest for lobbyists to manipulate or 'buy'.

As it is, corporate lobbyists actually write bills for our (Canada's) governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, supposedly to save the elected officials their own time. I believe the practice has become so systematic here that those who are aware of it (that likely includes mainstream news-media political writers) don’t bother publicly discussing it.

Regardless, powerful business interests can, and sometimes do, debilitate our high-level elected officials through implicit or explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate ‘requests’ aren’t accommodated.

Indeed, it is a political crippling that’s worsened by a blaring news-media that’s permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially in regards to job and capital transfers and economic weakening.


In the mid-1990s, the Supreme Court of Canada's judges apparently mixed their personal ideology with a verdict that split along gender lines.

The case involved a complaint filed by some prisoners at a male-inmate facility in regards to the institution’s allowance of female guards to invade the male inmates’ privacy; this, while female-inmate facilities disallowed male guards from invading female inmates’ privacy.

It was a no-brainer double-standard that commentators had stated would likely not be allowed to stand — yet it did, thanks to the five female judges outweighing the four male justices!

The reasoning behind that 5-4 judgment was essentially that, disallowing female guards in the male-inmate facilities would hinder employment opportunities for female guards in a male-dominated profession.

It was a disgraceful gender-political ruling, one that corrupted what should’ve been a case of a blatant double-standard injustice for the male-inmate plaintiffs requiring immediate rectification. One metro-daily newspaper’s editorial cartoon even mocked the court for its decision.

Last edited by Frank Sterle Jr.
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