After this year’s fraudulent presidential election, an African American student in my America in Transition class observed that we shouldn’t think of the red and blue states as the Republicans vs. the Democrats, but as the “crackers and cowboys vs. the free states.” I immediately consulted a map of the free vs. slave states just prior to the Civil War and his analysis suggesting those that were suppressing blacks and Native Americans nearly perfectly correlated with the red states. There were three exceptions: Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Let’s see. In the 1920s, Indiana had more Klan members than any state in the U.S. West Virginia broke off from the slave state Virginia and is one of the poorest states in the nation. But, how do you explain the Buckeyes siding with the traditional forces of reaction in the country?

Now, I believe that if all the votes were actually counted in Ohio, that the exit polls were correct. Kerry would have squeaked out a victory 51-49. But, even with that scenario, it doesn’t explain why the state was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, particularly at a time when Ohio had lost the most industrial jobs of any state.

Seldom do I agree with the mainstream media. Still, their assessment that Issue One, the initiative bankrolled by the Christian Right and the Republican Party that amended the Ohio Constitution to define marriage as only legal between a man and a woman, was the key to Bush’s showing in Ohio.

More than one commentator pointed out that the massive vote in support of Issue One was coming from areas of the state where there was no evidence of any openly gay people, institutions, bars, organizations, etc. It was easy to envision dirt poor people in say, Adams County, working themselves into a frenzy to amend the Ohio Constitution and save their economically-depressed area from the imaginary terror of big city gays.

Another student suggested that the anti-Kerry voters from the economically devastated Appalachian regions had plenty of time to stand in long voter lines because of the unemployment rate. Of course it would be interesting to get a statistical breakdown on how many have been divorced, fostered children out of wedlock, or generally have fornicated and sinned, heterosexually-speaking, out of wedlock.

The other key statistic would be whether or not they realize that it was already illegal under Ohio law for gays to marry and that six out of the seven justices on the Ohio Supreme Court are Republican and five staunchly conservative.

In one sense, voting to amend the Ohio Constitution against an imaginary big city gay couple that you’ve never met, when it is already illegal in the state, is not unlike attacking Iraq and Saddam for imaginary weapons of mass destruction.

Osama bin Laden and the Bush economics are the real enemies facing rural Ohio. Saddam and big city gays are merely the illusionary targets of the ruse to elect the worst President on domestic economics since Herbert Hoover.

With the election now over, and the violence and insurrection escalating in Iraq, the casualties will continue to mount. Sadly, the falsely proud and self-proclaimed moralists of rural Ohio – who have defected to a southern mentality – will understand the ruse only when they peer into the caskets of their dead sons and daughters. For it is the people in rural regions of Ohio that disproportionately send their children off to fight the battles for Big Oil and to make the world safe for the plutocrats. Perhaps they can take solace in the fact that they amended a Constitution against homos and voted for a famously AWOL chickenhawk president who feigns their faith. Karl Rove likes to brag that he reads Machiavelli’s The Prince every year and one can see the book’s advice to his royal fraudulence: make sure you are the first one out on High Holy days and make great public demonstrations of your religious faith. Create a crisis only you can solve. And never take morality seriously.

And all the tortured souls in rural Ohio said “amen” and “praise Bush, praise his holy name.”

Appears in Issue: 

Free Press History: