Donald Trump got one thing right, Democrat Zack Space believes.
Space, who is running for state auditor, said the president’s assertion during the campaign that the political system “was rigged” resonated with many voters. Space doesn’t agree with Trump on much but he agrees with him on that.
“The system has been rigged by money and political greed,” Space said during a recent campaign stop in Bowling Green. “The money manifests itself by political contributions, all of which are legal, and improper influence on policy. And political greed manifests itself through gerrymandering. Politicians drawing their own lines.”
That allows politicians to select their voters, instead of voters selecting their candidates.
As auditor he’ll have a say in addressing that. The auditor will have a place on the panel that will redraw state legislative districts, and possibly on the one that redraws congressional districts.
Space, though, has mixed feelings about Issue 1, the constitutional amendment calling for the redrawing of congressional districts, which passed in May.
While it is a step in the right direction, he said, it still will allow for gerrymandering by the Republican state legislature. All they have to do is lure a third of Democrats with “extremely safe” seats, and the status quo is maintained. “So the potential for gerrymandering still exists.”
This kind of political chicanery “causes people to lose in politics and the institution of government and in democracy itself,” Space said. “When they lose faith in democracy they naturally turn to authoritarianism.”
The influence of money in politics is seen in the two controversies roiling state government – for-profit charter schools and pay-day lending.
The current state auditor Republican Dave Yost, who is running for attorney general, could have brought the ECOT scandal to a head by declaring the books unauditable. Then it would be up to a judge to decide whether that was a proper use of public funds.
Instead the Democrat said, the charter school company continued to received state money, costing local school district millions of dollars.
Earlier this month Space, who served two terms in Congress before losing a bid for re-election, announced schools on his first day as auditor he would create a commission to investigate malfeasance in for-profit charter.
The legislature, Space added, only addressed the pay day lending industry after the controversy boiled over, costing Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger his job.
Another example of campaign contributions run amok, Space said.
The battle to succeed Rosenberger, he said, was more about who would control the Republican House campaign funds than who would be the best speaker.
The influence of money is seen in the budget process as well, he said.
“In budget after budget this assembly has reduced local government funding,” he said. That means communities including Bowling Green and his hometown of Dover are struggling to pay for basic needs, such as fixing roads, and providing police and fire protection.
These cuts were necessitated by cuts to income taxes that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Ohioans, those most likely to make campaign donations. “This is a pay off to wealthy donors,” Space said.
“A lot of Ohioans feel left behind in my part of the state, Appalachian Ohio. They are at a competitive disadvantage accessing health care, public education, technology. They don’t see anything being done for them. What they do see is a system that caters to wealth and political greed. They feel left behind because they have been.”
This is true in urban areas as well as in rural area.
That’s where his party needs to focus its attention.
“If they tap into that anger, that frustration, that hunger for the restoration of the most basic and fundamental democratic principles, then Democrats will do just fine.”