To Flip Republican Districts, Democratic Candidates For Ohio Assembly Should Offer A “Contract With Voters”

In 1994, Newt Gingrich got Republican candidates to agree to support a “Contract With America” — promising that, if elected, they would to take action on specific legislation. This Contract nationalized the election and is credited with the Republican’s big success that election — gaining 54 House and 9 U.S. Senate seats — flipping both chambers.

I’d like to suggest that Democratic candidates in this region — seeking election to the Ohio House and Ohio Senate in Republican leaning districts — agree on a “Contract With Voters.”

Flipping an established Republican district — even if the Republican candidate is an idiot — will not be easy. For example, Democrats have a great hope that our excellent candidate, Mark Fogel, can beat the extremist and crazy right-winger, Niraj Antani, and win District 06. But here is District 06’s history:

  • In 2016 Republican Peggy Lehner won the district with 68.1% of the vote.
  • In 2012, Lehner won with 62.4%.
  • In 2008, Republican John Husted won the district with 61.5%.
  • In 2004, Republican Jeff Jacobsen won with 64.5%.

In order for Fogel to win, a lot of citizens who have habitually voted Republican will need to change their votes. Similarly, in order for our excellent Democratic candidate, Desiree Tims, to be elected to the U.S. Congress (OH-10), a lot of habitual Mike Turner voters will need to change their votes.

I’m thinking that To Help Flip Strong Republican Districts, Democratic Candidates Should Offer A Contract With Voters that addresses their biggest concern — the biggest problem of our time.

What is our biggest problem?

In 1994, Gingrich with the “Contract With America” convinced a lot of voters that the biggest problems in America were deficit spending, crime, lack of term limits, etc. In the contract, the Republicans offered specific legislation to deal with these problems.

Here in 2020, we have a lot of big problems, but I’m thinking our biggest problem that we must solve is the on-going destruction of our democracy. Not all Republican leaning voters would agree with this assessment, but I think many would agree and to flip their votes would make a big difference. We are at a crucial point in our nation and many Republican leaning voters agree that the division, hatred and polarization within the citizenry is a huge problem and that, without intervention, our democracy soon will be toast. “A house divided cannot stand.”

A key section of Republican leaning voters, I believe, would respond to an authentic leader who was honestly working to bring citizens together and to empower citizens — regardless of party affiliation.

Authentic leadership, I believe, is “servant leadership” — the term used by Mark Fogel. But without a contract to spell out what this term means in practice, to promise “servant leadership” amounts to just more political speech.

Fogel made an excellent TEDx talk, The Culture of a Fighter Squadron, in 2018. In this talk he explains how leadership works in this exclusive fighter group. Successful leadership in this setting is committed to accountability, transparency, and empowerment. This leadership is focused on the group working together to safely and effectively achieve its missions.

Leaders are all about accomplishing a mission. Businesses use the structure of “servant leadership” to accomplish the mission of making the business successful — encouraging and empowering members to work successfully together.

What is the mission of a member of the Ohio Assembly?

Democrats in Republican leaning districts will have trouble getting Republicans to agree that the mission should be to advance a Democratic Party agenda. The mission, as defined by the “Contract With Voters,” I’m thinking, should be to make our system of democracy work as it should. The Contract, then, would spell out how the elected member of the Assembly will act to empower citizens to be co-servants, co-leaders  in saving our democracy. Democrats can be confident that the agenda they want to advance aligns with a majority view — the point is to make our democracy was work as it should, and then this agenda will be enacted.

This “Contract With Voters,” then, would show a specific plan for transparency, accountability, citizen empowerment and citizen engagement. It would show a plan for using the office as a means of engaging youth and all interested citizens in practical civics education. I like the idea of this Contract promising to empower interested citizens in a “Leadership Community.” This was developed by Albert Griggs, candidate for Senate District 06 in the Democratic Primary:

“We Are All In This Together” — Let’s Use This Insight To Transform Politics And To Build Dynamic Civic Communities

District Six has 240,000 voters. My goal is to engage at least one percent of these citizens as voting members in a “District Six Leadership Community.” The goal is for this group to fairly represent the diversity of the district and for members of this group to be committed to leadership — committed to understanding each other and to understanding issues. I want to work with a group who has a real hunger to understand and to participate in politics.
This Leadership Community will study and debate the work of the Assembly and will partner with me — empowering me to be an effective, responsive, transparent, and creative member of the Ohio Senate. This Leadership Community will be committed to developing consensus within the group. It will write proposed legislation and will engage and inform the public. The goal is for young people to become active, creative members and leaders in this civic community and for this experience to prepare these young people for eventual election to public office.

Members of the Leadership Community will team together in their local jurisdictions to engage and inform citizens and to build community. These teams will network together on district wide projects. One big project — to engage citizens of all persuasions — will be to develop civics education opportunities for youth. I’d love to see district-wide projects dealing with the U.S. Constitution (Constitution Day, September 17) and the Gettysburg Address (November 19).

There is a hunger within every person for community. Democrats need to champion a politics of unity, a politics of community building, and dare the Republicans to do the same. “We are all in this together” is a wonderful notion. We need to make it real. I am offering leadership and vision to empower civic communities that will bring citizens together into active and meaningful citizenship. This is the vision and the plan that can flip this gerrymandered Republican district. I am asking for your vote in this Democratic Primary.

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