Embarrassing. Infuriating. Oppressing. Take your pick. They all describe the performative do-nothings in Columbus and Washington. Dodgy politicians who aspire not to serve the greater good but to grandstand in the extreme for notoriety. It’s not for nothing that Ohio’s General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives (both under the loosely defined management of MAGA Republicans) were historically unproductive last year in terms of lawmaking.
The people’s business was put on the back burner in the Statehouse and lower chamber of Congress last year by Republicans auditioning for right-wing cred with meaningless “culture wars,” virtue signaling and straight up Trumpian cruelty. Legislating measured, fact-based, constituent-centered, public policy to improve lives is antithetical to the self-serving interests of extremists with a platform and power.
Hardliners perform not produce. To underscore the premise, MAGA performers in the Ohio House and U.S. House scored headline histrionics on the same day last week. Their cringeworthy dramas moved the needle on real problems plaguing Ohioans not a bit. But tackling impactful issues — from affordable housing and child care to livable wages and enduring pay gaps between rich and poor — was never on the MAGA playbill.
Going after trans people — who represent a minuscule 0.51% of over 340-million people in the United States — is what takes center stage in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. Ohio’s gerrymandered GOP supermajorities are in lockstep with their bigoted brethren. Last Wednesday, Ohio House Republicans interrupted their extended holiday recess just to devastate at-risk trans kids and their families.
It was disgusting to watch the rote recitation on the House floor of soulless ideologues rising in support of “protecting” a marginalized minority of young Ohioans — by oppressing them. As an emotionally deflated trans community crumbled in the gallery, Republican state representatives used their rigged two-thirds voting weight to punch down on the defenseless who make up less than 1% of Ohio’s over 11-million population.
But picking on the vulnerable few who can’t fight back polls well. Fear-mongering and fictionalizing about transgender people has reaped partisan dividends for MAGA Republicans. So cynical right-wingers, eyeing March primaries, coolly overrode Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto on a bill that would dually ban Ohio minors from gender-affirming care and transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams.
Then they pumped their fists in the air and went home. But their singular resolve to cancel a compassionate embargo by DeWine raises the question — what was the monumental crisis in Ohio that warranted such an urgent return to the capital to curtail transgender rights? Was there some paramount public interest to be served by arbitrarily benching literally a handful of trans athletes in the state or dictating the parameters of parental rights with regard to their trans children?
Of course not. None of this nonsense is a burning issue anywhere but MAGA world. Ask mainstream Ohioans. They’ll tell you they’re not the least bit affected by how transgender people choose to live their lives — and couldn’t care less.
The politicians conjuring up horrific tales of preyed-on, mutilated trans kids are perpetuating a hoax at the expense of humanity. The documented benefits of medically treating children with gender dysphoria are well established and widely endorsed as life-saving by major medical associations, children’s hospitals, pediatricians, counselors, etc. And for years, state college and high school athletic associations have enforced policies that both protect trans athletes and ensure a level playing field for all athletes.
So, no red flashing transgender alarms in any quarter save one — the hate peddlers’ party where difference is demonized for political payoff. Ohio House Republicans have seized an issue that resonates with voters and gone to extraordinary lengths to exploit it with fear and prejudice. They obeyed their MAGA king when he stuck his big orange nose into Ohio’s anti-trans bigotry and demanded Republicans overturn the governor’s veto — and “Do it Fast!!!”
The co-sponsor of another demeaning anti-trans bill on absurd bathroom mandates topped off the shameful MAGA show in the Ohio House by cruelly comparing patients with gender dysphoria to people imagining they were other species. Embarrassing. Infuriating. Oppressing. But while gerrymandered bullies in Ohio were taking bows for a heartless performance, their counterparts on Capitol Hill were bullying a private American citizen for political gain.
First up on Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s congressional agenda for 2024 was picking on the son of President Biden to hurt the Democratic incumbent in an election year. Hunter Biden, a recovering addict with a troubled history, has been absolutely dragged through the mud by rabid MAGA performers like Jordan to damage his father. The do-nothing Ohio Republican doesn’t tackle problems people care about — from the high cost of living and inflation to health care affordability, drug addiction, or gun violence.
Instead, the subpoena-dodging Jan. 6 coup plotter engages in theatrics over Hunter Biden dodging a subpoena for a similar closed-door deposition. The MAGA drama queen screams about holding the president’s son in contempt of Congress (even though Biden agreed to a private deposition after public testimony was denied) in the never-ending Republican hunt for something impeachable against President Biden.
Jordan’s tired dramatics and the anti-trans staginess in Columbus are pathetic and pointless shows that need to close. Ohioans deserve reasonable problem-solvers not bad actors with an agenda.
Marilou Johanek | Ohio Capital Journal | 1.16.2024