Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

Republicans harming our democracy by cowering to Trump

Akron Beacon Journal

Dec. 13

Enough is enough. Facts still matter. Evidence requires, well, evidence.

Any Republican leader who’s still publicly denying — or at least failing to admit — that Democrat Joe Biden is America’s president-elect is a coward.

They’re probably scared of the bully still occupying the White House and who’s rumored to be considering a 2024 run after losing by more than 7 million votes this year.

They’re likely more worried about saving their jobs in the next election by avoiding President Donald Trump’s wrath and a potential Republican primary challenger.

When Trump upset Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, she conceded and accepted the stinging defeat as professionally as possible while exploring her legal options in states decided by far fewer votes than 2020. Some liberals made noise about faithless electors in the Electoral College, but it amounted to nothing. It was Trump who baselessly blamed fraud for his popular vote defeat.

What’s happened since this year’s election threatens our democracy. Any losing candidate has the right to seek recounts and to challenge voter fraud if it exists. They don’t have the right to lie and make wild assertions that undermine the credibility of our democracy.

Thankfully, most local and state-level Republicans who co-manage our elections with Democrats have stood tall in defending our nation from Trump’s attacks. They are to be commended for protecting democracy and our Constitution.

We can’t say the same of attorneys general in 17 states who filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting a far-fetched lawsuit filed by Texas seeking to delay certification of election results in four swing states Trump lost. They allege those states unlawfully changed voting rules, claims they failed to make before Trump lost.

Never mind that those elections and results were certified by local Republican election officials, who clearly would have cried foul if even a shred of notable voter fraud evidence existed. Just ignore the fact that Republican and Democratic poll workers verified signatures on absentee ballots in most places. Forget that William Barr, Trump’s own highly political and conservative attorney general, said there was no substantive fraud. Should we also toss out the Republicans’ impressive down ticket wins?

Thankfully, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a straight-shooting conservative, declined to lend his support to the Texas case despite pressure from more than 40 foolish Ohio Republican state representatives, including Bill Roemer of Richfield and Scott Wiggam of Wooster. A Thursday letter to Yost claims the election lacked integrity based on unspecified “grave allegations,” presumably the same baloney that even Trump-appointed judges have dismissed in courts.

Even more shocking, a majority of U.S House Republicans supported Texas’ case, including Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville.

What Republicans were asking for would destroy our democracy if the Supreme Court had somehow saved Trump. Justices refused to accept the case Friday night.

Any elected leader supporting the rejection of millions of votes without any evidence deserves significant scrutiny about their fitness for office. They’re ignoring the rule of law and Constitution they claim to embrace. They’re willing to harm our country just to keep a bully in power.

Can you imagine what Roemer, Wiggam and Gibbs would be saying if the scenario were reversed?

When the Electoral College votes Monday, Joe Biden will become the official president-elect. Our country needs its elected leaders to come together and help all of us overcome a pandemic that’s sickening and killing more and more people every day.

It’s time to solve problems and get people back to work. Do your job.



For racism to end, all Americans need to recognize it

The Columbus Dispatch

Dec. 13

When The Dispatch launched “Black Out” – a nine-part series looking at the impact of racism in central Ohio as described by Black people who have lived with it – a reader questioned why. Why talk about those long-ago issues of the 1960s? Why dredge up old problems?

The question answers itself.

The reader’s question demonstrates why we need more discussion and understanding of racism. The Black Out series, which began last Sunday and concludes on Monday, starts to fill the need – precisely because people who don’t experience racism personally don’t understand its lasting power or, maybe, don’t believe that it is still a problem.

The Black Lives Matter protests last summer following the brutal deaths of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police opened many Americans’ eyes to one of the most critical dangers of racism and bias. It is heartbreaking that, with the killing of Casey Goodson Jr. by a sheriff’s deputy on Dec. 4, Columbus is facing another tragedy.

But the racial reckoning sparked by the protests also has led to a deeper examination of racism in many other forms. Many are more subtle but nonetheless damaging. Perhaps the most important message is the need to understand the lasting effects of systemic racism – not only the blatant and illegal refusals to hire, or serve, or enroll people of color, but also the racism built into our social infrastructure that held people back generations ago and still do today.

Modern American motorists who don’t think much about systemic racism likely give little thought as to why a particular path was chosen for construction of the interstate highways that cut through our central cities.

In Monday’s installment of the series on racism, reporter Erica Thompson spoke to central Ohio residents who lived in those neighborhoods before the freeways came, when they were thriving, safe and friendly places to live, with stores and restaurants and music venues and well-kept lawns, all close to the heart of the city.

What made places such as Hanford Village and Bronzeville different from other pleasant, family-oriented neighborhoods back then was simple: Most of the people who lived there were Black and had relatively little political representation or power. That made it easy for officials to draw lines on a map that would slice neighborhoods in two and strand small clusters of homes hard up against freeway ramps.

Along with the stifling of community came falling property values, depriving Black families of the path to wealth accumulation that homeownership represents for so many Americans.

Stories about highways ruining neighborhoods tend to bear a distinct similarity to stories about redlining – the practice, dating from the New Deal, of carving up city maps and labeling neighborhoods for their desirability for home lenders. Look for where the freeways carve up residential areas and you’ll likely be looking as well at the places that were “redlined,” meaning that banks were unwilling to make loans for homes in those places.

More downward impact on property values, more limits on families’ mobility, more opportunities lost to the next generation.

What else helps determine success and social position in American society? Education and employment, two other endeavors where the overt racism of past decades leaves its mark today. A hiring manager doesn’t have to be personally racist to perpetuate racism. If he relies on the traditional professional networks of his predecessors, he’s unlikely to encounter all of the possible candidates of color.

Efforts to undo the effects of racism sometimes are themselves harmful, if inadvertently. Kenny Morgan, who grew up on the East Side, told reporter Mike Wagner how scared he was when he learned that he was to be bused to a mostly-white middle school on the Northwest Side when Columbus City Schools began busing for desegregation in 1979.

A friendly white student at the new school, assigned to be Morgan’s “buddy,” assured him the school was nice and that people would welcome him.

But that student understood better when Morgan asked him how he would feel if he were being bused to an all-black school far away.

As it turned out, the Columbus Board of Education changed its plan and Morgan stayed at his home school, but thousands of students, Black and white, suffered the disruption of busing. It was intended as a bold remedy to intentional segregation, which had included equipping white schools far better than Black ones. But it came at a cost: It hampered friendships, made it harder for parents to be involved in their kids’ schools and diluted traditional neighborhood support.

The city school system shrank as white families moved away. Whether motivated by their own racism or fear of their homes losing value because of others’ racism, the result was the same. How much healthier the city and its schools could be if racism hadn’t driven school boards of decades past to do whatever it took to keep Black and white children apart.

A bright spot amid the pain in the “Black Out” series is that, on a human-to-human level, racism is easier to snuff out.

Denise Flowers, who was among the first Black students bused to the former Eastmoor Middle School, remembers how nice it felt to be befriended by a white girl who had been afraid of integration, but realized that Flowers was “so nice.”

And after spending 40 years in prison for a crime the state now admits he didn’t commit, Ricky Jackson used some of his monetary settlement to buy a house in a prosperous white neighborhood. He is used to being tailed by store employees, and says his wife “got the looks everywhere she went,” but he also has the grace to observe that “it’s better now, because people know us and we have a lot of friends who don’t see us for our color.”

But beyond personal relationships, the bitter legacy of systemic racism remains -- in lower incomes and lower household wealth for Black people, along with higher rates of illness and death, even as tiny infants. No significant change is likely if the problem remains one that only people of color can see.

One path toward the changes required to end racism opens when individuals listen to what it feels like to experience racism, and to that end, The Dispatch will continue the effort to tell stories that build understanding.



Focus second stimulus

The Toledo Blade

Dec. 15

The federal government continues to bat around proposals for a second stimulus package aimed at countering the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Never mind that people’s livelihoods and lives are at stake, given looming deadlines on unemployment benefits and relief aid in many areas. Any chance to play politics must be seized upon with gusto, of course. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Talks seemed to be moving toward bipartisan agreement on most areas aside from two of the most contentious issues: a liability shield for businesses, hospitals, and schools, and funding for state and local governments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had floated the idea of tabling these topics in favor of passing a package and picking them back up in the new year.

Then the White House lobbed a grenade.

Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin sent a proposal that would cut the $300-per-week unemployment enhancement in favor of sending $600 direct payments — half the amount of the first stimulus package — to Americans under a certain income threshold.

This is asinine. Democrats were right to reject the proposal outright.

While the original $1,200 stimulus payments undoubtedly helped huge numbers of Americans, many simply deposited or banked the funding. It was overly broad, a fast, slapdash measure intended to inject some capital into the sputtering economy and assist those who needed immediate aid in paying rent or bills.

(Then again, the Internal Revenue Service is still working to process payments for some citizens. “Immediate” isn’t really in the vocabulary of our bureaucracy.)

Why is another round of direct payments on the table? Politics, of course. They are popular with the public. The President has signaled that he favors such payments and continues to push for their inclusion in relief packages. A cash infusion for those who don’t desperately need it could encourage more spending and catalyze faster recovery.

But none of these reasons trump common sense.

Lawmakers should target payments to those in need. A $300-per-week unemployment enhancement would help those who have already demonstrated they need it most.

That figure had bipartisan support in the Senate.

Mr. McConnell has said Congress must reach an agreement before it adjourns, and he’s right. As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spike, state leaders around the country are considering further restrictions that would decimate an already tepid recovery, casting thousands of people back onto the unemployment line and into food insecurity.

Lawmakers must keep their eye on the bipartisan ball, so to speak, and not be distracted by the White House proposal.

Simultaneously, the President must sign a relief bill if it moves through the Senate.



’21 brings new president, new inauguration

The Warren Tribune Chronicle

Dec. 15

What if you built an expensive, elaborate reviewing stand for a parade, and then on the big day, it overlooked an empty street? That is the question both President-elect Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump must answer in just a few weeks.

Inauguration Day for American presidents has been a really big deal in the past. Hundreds of thousands of people pack the area at the U.S. Capitol where the new chief executive is being sworn in.

About 1,600 dignitaries are on the platform with him. Then follows an enormous parade through Washington and finally, a round of inaugural balls.

Not this year? COVID-19 has changed everything. Tightly packed crowds of the kind that would have attended traditional ceremonies are an invitation to new outbreaks of the disease. It is not too much to speculate that such events would mean people die needlessly.

So what to do? Work on both the parade reviewing stand and the inauguration platform at the capital already has begun.

For his part, Biden has made it clear he does not believe traditional Inauguration Day activities are wise. Asked about the matter, he told a reporter he doesn’t know “exactly how it’s all going to work out. … The key is keeping people safe.”

It has been speculated one way to accomplish that would be to stage various inauguration-related events semiprivately, broadcasting them to the American people by television and on the internet. That may be a partial solution, but it should not be the whole show.

Because Trump remains president until Biden takes the oath of office Jan. 20, some arrangements will hinge on what the current White House decides. We encourage Trump to proceed with work such as construction of the parade reviewing stand, simply to give Biden all the flexibility possible under trying circumstances.

Putting thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people at risk through an irresponsible determination that the show must go on would not be prudent. Regardless of what Biden and his transition team decide, he is right that keeping people safe needs to be the priority.

Surely, however, the American people are innovative enough to come up with ceremonies that are both safe and in keeping with our tradition of making Inauguration Day a celebration — not just of the new president, but also of how we handle major transitions in government. Making that happen may be especially important during the pandemic.



Isolation is wearing down many

The Marietta Times

Dec. 14

Over the river and through the woods might not happen for Christmas this year … or for several months afterward, for that matter. At a time of year when we most look forward to seeing far off relatives, some of whom might be a little older, it is hard for us to think about whether it is safe and right to do so.

Imagine how hard it is for them, particularly if they are living in group facilities where visits have been limited (or forbidden) for months up months already. It is essential, particularly if you made the right decisions to keep them safe over Christmas or other holiday gatherings, not to leave those folks out of the celebrations entirely.

Send cards, send gifts, make a phone call … make a video call. In fact, if a person is unable to be part of the celebrations in person, perhaps a thoughtful gift would be a tablet or upgraded smartphone that would allow them to participate in such video calls.

Let them know you made a recipe they passed down to you, or that you are wearing a sweater they gave as a gift last year.

Let them know you’re thinking of them, and are planning for a visit as soon as it is safe.

Let them know they are not alone and not forgotten.

Isolation is an awful thing, for those who do not choose it. As this pandemic wears on (and wears so many of us down), it is important that we look for ways to break through that isolation for the holidays without putting anyone in danger.

It may take some creativity to reach out safely, but we can do it.