The Mush In The Middle: Ohio

This is what I see happening: Dark Energy pulling the 2-party system apart and smashing it smithereens. On the right, the GOP breaks into a fascist party and mainstream corporate conservative party. On the left, an FDR-oriented progressive party splits from a corporate conservative Democratic Party. I would imagine that the corporate conservative Republican Party and the corporate conservative Democratic Party will gravitate towards each other pretty quickly. In fact, they already are.

John Bridgeland ws chief of staff for mainstream conservative Rob Portman (R-OH) and then went to work for George W. Bush as a deputy assistant, then as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and afterwards as director if the USA Freedom Corps. Over the weekend he penned a guest column for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Republicans Should Be Wary Of JD Vance, explaining why he’s starting “Republicans for Tim Ryan.”

Ryan is a mush-in-the-middle kind of Democrat and his opponent in the Ohio Senate race for Rob Portman’s seat is JD Vance, a career-craving Trumpist. Bridgeland’s column is part of that coalescing of the conservative center of American politics. Bridgeland wrote that he’s a Republican (rather than a Democrat) because he believes “in respecting individual rights as well as responsibilities, and in tapping the goodness and entrepreneurial spirit of Americans to solve problems rather than relying on distant government bureaucracies. It has been the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and many others who served in times of national crisis. The party has had leaders who both represent the American people and inspire the better angels of our nature. Many Democrats and independents also share these values.” [Alarm: Ronald Reagan, the only one of the trio he lived through and didn’t just find out about in a book.] His story:

Over the last 20 years, I have worked to address the high school dropout crisis. In the process, a U.S. congressman from Ohio I didn’t know called my cellphone and spent 45 minutes talking about how we could improve outcomes for children in low-performing schools. He listened, probed for evidence of effective reforms and remains a national champion for boosting the life prospects of children. I was struck by this congressman’s character, intelligence and passion for helping people. His name is Tim Ryan.
In recent years, dear friends of mine joined forces with the author of a book called Hillbilly Elegy to boost entrepreneurship across America. I was interested because my father grew up in poverty in Akron and Bellville, Ohio. I invited the author to join me as a keynote speaker at a national conference with the country’s public media stations. He was smart and shared thoughtful insights. His name is JD Vance.
Since then, as I have followed Ohio’s Senate race, I have been alarmed that Vance has become unrecognizable to me and many who know him much better. After calling candidate Donald Trump “reprehensible” and an “idiot” and comparing Trumpism to opioid addiction, he reversed course when running for the Republican nomination for Senate.
Vance then promoted the myth that Trump won the presidential election, even though Republican reviews of court cases show no consequential evidence of fraud.
Vance also said that he did not care one way or another what happened to Ukraine as millions suffered. I know of the suffering, because we organized the Ukrainian-American community to help find sponsors for those fleeing Ukraine.
Vance went on to do anything to win an endorsement from a former president who incited an insurrection to overthrow the will of the people and undercut our democracy. Lives were lost, including police officers who defended our Capitol.
The test of our character is found not in times of comfort, but in times of challenge. Running for public office is such a test.
If Vance is willing to undermine his own integrity and character for public office, imagine what he might do if he were a U.S. senator– I fear whatever it took to remain in office.
Vance’s campaign has also been anemic, lacking the energy of the U.S. senator he is trying to replace– Rob Portman, who worked hard in every county in Ohio and brought people together instead of tearing them apart.
In contrast, I have been impressed by Ryan’s energy on the campaign trail, his love of our democracy, many of his policies and his good character. The same man who reached out to a Republican like me 10 years ago is reaching out to Ohioans across politics and other divisions– to farmers, small-business leaders, veterans, parents, teachers, students and people in heavily Republican counties– to understand their concerns.
In doing so, I see the same man I saw a decade ago– a person of good character, who believes in people’s ability to work together to solve tough challenges and who recognizes that citizen– not senator– is the highest office in the land.
There is also a lot to like about Ryan’s policies, whether you are a Republican or Democrat– working for good manufacturing jobs and trained workers to fill them; supporting new industrial technologies; promoting the bipartisan Earned Income Tax Credit to help people lift themselves out of poverty; and writing a book about resurrecting the American spirit.
We live in a time of national division that is undercutting our ability to solve our greatest challenges. America needs to dream again. For goodness’ sake, Ohio is the cradle of aviation, sent a native son to the moon, produced the most U.S. presidents and has top five college and Super Bowl football!
We need elected leaders whom we can trust, know who they are, put their faith in people, cross divisions to pull us together and inspire us again to greatness.
Ryan is such a man, and as a Republican, I could not be prouder to support him.

Vance is the worse of the two. Ryan is the lesser evil. I’m not invested in this race. Ohio has been behaving as a red state this decade. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary 2,841,005 (51.3%) to 2,394,164 (43.2%) Trump won 80 of the state’s 88 counties. In 2020 Biden won just 7 of the 88 counties and Trump won again— 3,154,834 (53.3%) to 2,679,165 (45.2%). The state’s PVI is R+6, redder than Texas, Georgia or Florida. The state Democratic Party is moribund and worse than useless.

All the constitutional officers are Republicans. Of the 16 members of Congress, the severely gerrymandered state sends 4 Democrats and 12 Republicans. The state senate has 25 Republicans and 8 Democrats and the state House consists of 64 Republicans and 35 Democrats. Like I said, the Ohio Democratic Party is a model for what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. It needs to dissolve and start fresh. Or I guess a new Progressive party could start and the carcass of the Ohio Democratic Party can meld with the Bridgeland Republicans. I think it’s just a matter of time anyway.

This is how bad a candidate JD Vance is!