Democracy is in danger in the nation that gave it to the rest of the world.
Zack Space, Democratic candidate for state auditor in 2018, said billions of people worldwide now live under a democracy thanks to its founding in the United States.
But today, “I’m firmly and utterly convinced that the democracy we love, we revere, is under threat,” said Space, guest speaker Saturday at a fall luncheon hosted by the Hardin County Democratic Party at Walnut Grove United Methodist Church.
“It’s already been compromised by money,” he said.
The former three-term congressman representing 16 counties in southeast Ohio, said everyone in Congress has to spend 10 to 20 hours a week calling people they don’t know and begging them for money.
“That’s time that could be used representing your interests,” Space said.
The money they receive then influences laws and regulations being considered by Congress, he said.
What this leads to, and a belief he shares with President Trump, is that the system is rigged, Space said.
“People lose faith and confidence in their government. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have lost the faith of the people.
The government itself has lost the faith of the people, he said.
“When they lose faith, they turn to authoritarianism, which is happening today,” Space said.
“Your democracy has been corrupted by the influence of money and by self-interested politicians who have been allowed to draw our legislative lines,” Space said.
“The legislators are choosing the voters. The voters are not choosing the legislators.”
He said this is not a partisan argument.
He suggests that if Democrats held power in Ohio the past 20 years they would have done the same thing as the Republicans.
Space said by creating a partisan advantage it not only disenfranchises voters, it creates polarization and extremism.
For instance, he said, Congressman Bob Latta, a Republican representing northwest Ohio, including Hardin County, must veer to the right in his primary to fend off opposition.
Conversely, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan from northeast Ohio must move to the left for the same reason.
Meanwhile, Space said, most Ohioans are closer to the political center and find themselves chronically underrepresented,
“We need to fix this broken democracy,” he said.
Space said that if elected auditor, he will be in a position to try and do just that.
The auditor, along with the governor and secretary of state, have a seat at the table determining how legislative districts are drawn every 10 years.
“I’m a proud Democrat, but I would not be at that table representing the Democratic Party. I would be representing the people of Ohio who have not had a seat at that table in a long time,” he said.
Space said the auditor also is a watchdog to make sure taxpayers’ dollars are being spent according to the law.
“The auditor can shine a light on the corruptive influence of money,” he said.
But Space said another problem is that with Republicans dominating state government there is no one to keep an eye on the actions of fellow Republicans.
He cited the recent resignation of State Sen. Cliff Hite, a Findlay Republican whose district included Hardin County, for his inappropriate contact with a female statehouse employee..
“This is what happens when they think no one has been watching,” Space said.
“We desperately need Democratic officeholders.”
He said, “We need to take our democracy back to give every Ohioan a voice. I hope you will join me as we attempt to change this state for the better in 2018.”