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Rare TEA Party Candor

By The Reverend Published: October 3, 2011

Over the weekend, I obtained a copy of an e-mail written to members by the Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, Tom Zawistowski. The substance of the e-mail concerns itself with the November referendum vote in Ohio to keep or reject SB5, the now-infamous collective bargaining smashing legislation passed by Governor Kasich and his Tea Party Confederacy in Ohio's state legislature.

The ballot issue will be Issue 2. The vote is on November 8, just a few short weeks away. To vote to end collective bargaining for public employees, Ohioans will vote "yes." To vote to kill SB5 and thus maintain the collective bargaining rights of public employees, Ohioans will vote "no."

The last polls I saw showed SB5 being scrapped by voters by a 51%-38% margin.

As you can imagine, Ohio's Tea Party, Governor LittleJohn, and Republicans in the state legislature are worried. As they should be. Even Ohio citizens who are not especially fond of labor unions have seen the unfairness and extremity in SB5.

This GOP worry in Ohio is why Mr. Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party sent out his e-mail. The e-mail is seasoned with doom and gloom if SB5 is defeated. What I found most interesting was the candid nature of Mr. Zawistowski's remarks. Many times, in the early days of SB5, Republicans usually explained that the bill was necessary to balance the state's budget. But that was never true.....

"So, let me be clear. Everyone else can have whatever motivations they want to support issue 2, but for the TEA Party/Patriot movement our number one goal is to de-fund the union leadership and thus their exclusive partners in the Democratic Party and take back control of our government."

I want to thank Mr. Zawistowski for not being mealy mouthed about the reason the TEA Party members he leads should be for SB5. From the inception of the TEA Party 3 weeks after Barack Obama was inaugurated, I explained to readers that the protest movement had nothing to do with differences in opinion over political policies.....President Obama had barely enough time to set forth any policy details before the first TeaBagged headware was sighted at protest gatherings.

Instead, as Mr. Zawistowski makes clear, the TEA Party movement is but a Republican Party movement dressed up to appear to be something else. The GOP has long sought to hollow out and eliminate labor unions....public or private. Traditionally, labor groups have supported the Democratic Party and their candidates, primarily because the Democratic Party, despite wavering in recent years, has been a strong defender of unions and labor rights. Republicans, not so much.

The Portage County TEA Leader goes on....

"When we pass Issue 2, and the Democratic Party and the Unions are defunded, they will not have the money to compete in Ohio next year."

At least for Portage County TEA Partiers, SB5 is about doing damage to the Democratic Party. Therefore, all along, SB5 has been only a political tool to strengthen the electoral prospects of Republicans and do damage to their political opponents, the Democrats. Sorry, but I told you so.

Zawistowski goes on....

"...they (Democrats) will not have the money to compete in Ohio next year. Barack Obama and Sherrod Brown will lose Ohio and be thrown out of office in 2012. The Governor and the Ohio Legislature will be emboldened and thus willing to introduce more conservative legislation like Workman's Comp reform, Right to Work, School Choice and much more..."

Couldn't be clearer, could it? Right to Work...School Choice.....looks like a theme. Because it is a theme. And that theme is killing organized labor in the state of Ohio in order to advance the far right Republican agenda. The TEA Party movement is nothing but the most extreme portion of the Republican base. After Bush, I can understand why these extremist conservatives wanted to camoflauge their political identity with a new TEABagged the's still, and only, the same old radicals from the Republican right.

Whether teachers, firefighters, police, etc can collectively bargain has never been the driver of state budgetary shortfalls. Union negotiators have often agreed to concessions and givebacks when times are tough. So, right from the get-go, busting up Ohio's public unions using SB5 as the bludgeoning tool, was never about balancing the budget. And now, as Tom Zawiskowski has spelled out, we know that SB5 was always about doing political damage to Republican opponents. Starving unions, according to TEA Party leaders, is the way to starve the Democratic Party of funding, and therefore, the way to do irreparable damage to the Party of the People.

If Ohioans want to maintain and improve their state's public education program. If Ohioans still want to have professional police, fire and EMT services in the state. If a state spirit of "we're in this thing together" is not to be killed off and replaced by an "every rich man for himself" way of life.....then it is necessary to vote "no" on Ohio Issue 2.

I take Mr.Tom Zawiskowski at his word. SB5 is all about destroying public employee unions in order to give Republican candidates an advantage. But state legislation which has no other purpose other than political gamesmanship at the expense of average working Ohioans.....has no business being passed in the first place.

Say Hell No on Issue 2.



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