Lies about Ohio Issue 1

4 Big Lies Opponents are Spreading about Ohio Issue 1

As we explained in a recent article, a constitution should be hard to amend:

That's because a constitution is a general framework for structuring and operating government, outlining the obligations and limitations of its power, including protections for the fundamental rights of its citizens.

Laws, on the other hand, are a set of specific rules to govern the behavior of people. The people's will is translated into law through elected representatives who answer to their constituents.

Confusing the two is a grave mistake. Unlike laws, which reflect the will of the people at a given moment in time, constitutions are intended to be bedrock documents that endure changing partisan administrations and outlast the ever-fickle winds of political whim.

However, opponents of Issue 1, which include all those who routinely fight against your Second Amendment rights, don't want to deal with this argument. Instead, they are setting their hair on fire and screaming that passing Issue 1 would bring about the apocalypse of democracy in Ohio.

And they're spreading lies about the purpose and effect of Issue 1 to scare people into opposing it.

But let's take a clear-eyed look at some of these lies being trumpeted by activists and Ohio's media so that you can understand the simple truth.

LIE No. 1: Issue 1 is radical and undemocratic.

That's not only a lie. It's laughable. As I've already pointed out, changing a constitution is supposed to be difficult — more difficult than changing ordinary laws.

For example, the founders made it hard to change the U.S. Constitution. To amend it requires a 2/3 vote of both chambers of Congress and a vote of 3/4 of state legislatures.

At the state level, the same reasoning applies. But currently, Ohio is among a minority of states that permit constitutional amendments by initiative petition at all. And of those that do allow it, many have high thresholds to adopt constitutional amendments. Florida requires a 60% vote. Colorado requires a 55% vote. New Hampshire requires a 66% vote. Illinois requires a 60% vote.

Are opponents to Issue 1 saying these common requirements are undemocratic? Are they saying our U.S. Constitution is radical?

What's truly radical is allowing Ohio's constitution to be changed on a whim by deep-pocket, often out-of-state, political interests and filled with "laws" that belong in the Ohio Revised Code. What's undemocratic is special interests doing an end run on the legislature, who are elected by the people, and attempting to govern through our founding document.

Oh, and by the way, the Ohio Democratic Party requires a vote of 60% to amend its own bylaws, i.e., their party constitution. Read it for yourself in Article Four, Section 1.

LIE No. 2: Issue 1 destroys citizen-driven ballot initiatives.

No. It does no such thing. Issue 1 deals with amending Ohio's constitution. That's it. It does not affect initiated statutes to change Ohio law or referendums to repeal an existing law. Citizens will continue to have the ability to directly change Ohio's laws, in addition to working with elected leaders to pass laws.

The problem is not that anyone wants to cut citizens out of the ballot initiative process or to prevent citizens from having a say in our state constitution. It's that the bar to amending our constitution is so low, it allows for too many changes to be made to a document that is intended to be a stabilizing force in our state.

Over the years, the Ohio Constitution has become bloated, weighing in at a morbidly obese 67,000 words, which is nine times the length of the U.S. Constitution. And many of these change (such as moving a casino location or reducing penalties for drug use) should have been addressed through the ordinary legislative process, not via constitutional amendments.

LIE No. 3: Issue 1 is all about empowering wealthy special interests.

That's a ridiculous claim. The whole point of Issue 1 is to prevent special interests from using their spending power to buy their way onto Ohio's ballot and amend our constitution for their personal benefit.

While passing Issue 1 wouldn't guarantee a billionaire wouldn't pour money into an Ohio ballot initiative, it would reduce the chances that rich activists and well-funded political groups would make changes to our way of life without strong popular support.

Progressive opponents are revealing their "tell" in this political poker game. What they're really afraid of is losing the ability to alter our constitution when they can't get their way through legislation. They know very well how progressive dark money has been growing in recent years.

According to Politico, just one progressive dark-money group raised nearly $390 million in 2020 alone. And The New York Times revealed that in the same year, "... 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with the Democratic Party spent more than $1.5 billion in 2020 ..."

So maybe Issue 1 opponents are being honest when they say it's all about money. But they're lying when they pretend the big money isn't theirs.

LIE No. 4: Issue 1 ends majority rule and undermines "one person, one vote."

That's not only a lie, but a damned lie. Issue 1 has nothing whatsoever to do with voting rights. Everyone who can vote now will be able to vote when Issue 1 passes. And nothing will change about how votes are counted.

Issue 1 is exclusively about protecting Ohio's constitution from being filled with special interest policy that should be dealt with in Ohio's laws.

In fact, Issue 1 is all about supporting majority rule. At the moment, residents of Ohio could be evenly split on an issue and, literally, a single vote one way or the other could permanently change our constitution. That could result from a counting error. In what universe is that legitimate majority rule? Turn it around for a second: Suppose the Ohio Constitution all along required a 60% majority to amend.

Issue 1 would require real consensus, at least 60% of voters to agree on an issue to amend our constitution. That ensures that the will of the majority is actually respected.

Don't fall for the lies. Vote YES on Issue 1 in Ohio's special election on Aug. 8.

Additional information

Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, former #1 NRA Recruiter, and host of the Keep and Bear Radio podcast.

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