“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, read aloud that quote from former President Ronald Reagan during the annual Fayette County Democrats’ fall dinner Tuesday at the American Legion Post 25 in Washington C.H. Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, said those words during a 1961 speech. Pepper acknowledged that Reagan may be the last person anyone would think to quote at a Democratic event, but that Reagan and past leaders have well warned the American people about tyranny.
It’s that warning to the American people that keeps Pepper awake at night, he said.
“If we have eight years of Donald Trump — four or five Supreme Court justices, the instability every single day, doing nothing on things like climate change when you know things are hanging in the balance — our kids will be inheriting a world so scarily different, and that’s what Ronald Reagan was talking about, that’s what keeps me up at night,” said Pepper.
Pepper, a lawyer and history major, cited several ways in which the founders of the United States predicted the corruption of an overreaching executive government.
“We actually have been warned back with the founders that the risk of what is happening today could happen,” said Pepper. “I always read the founders as if they were describing the future for them. It’s amazing how much they were actually predicting and warning things like this.”
Pepper quoted founder James Madison as saying, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of a foreign enemy.”
And he quoted Hannah Arendt: “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
Pepper said Ohio has an opportunity in the 2018 election to make a difference and send a signal to the world that Donald Trump is out of touch.
“If you turn Ohio blue, Ohio Democrats, and elect Sherrod Brown (in the U.S. Senate race) and win up and down the ballot, maybe that sends the signal to Rob Portman to get some guts. The world is watching: is this country really behind Trump or not? You turn the state blue, you send a signal to the world. We have that right now in our power,” said Pepper.
Pepper said Ohioans play a historic role in turning Trump back, and that the change begins on the local level, going door-t0-door talking to neighbors, and explaining what that change is going to look like in people’s lives.
“We won’t make new history if we repeat it. We’re already beginning to repeat history. We’re seeing that energy. We’re seeing independents run and hide,” said Pepper.
“This is a year that Ohio, in 2018, desperately needs to change its direction — desperately,” said Pepper.
Six major issues in desperate need of change in the state, Pepper said, are trickle down economics, below-average job growth, high unemployment, failing schools, student debt, and drug overdose deaths.
“We have been undergoing seven years of trickle down economics. It just doesn’t work. It has not worked in Ohio since 2011. Since 2011, your cities, your schools, have had money taken and sent to Columbus. Your state is not doing very well because of that. We are the worse-off state in the country. No one is more proud of Ohio than I am, and that’s why it’s so important what we’re doing,” said Pepper.
Ohio has had 58 straight months with a below-average job growth rate, Pepper said, and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. With schools losing money from trickle down economics, Pepper said the school systems are failing.
“When Ted Strickland left it was the fifth highest public education system in the country. Do you know where it is now? Twenty-two and falling every day. Of course it is, they’re taking all the money. Now that is a failing state when you go from fifth to 22nd,” said Pepper.
Ohio students, Pepper said, have more debt than any other students in the country.
“We’re not number 10 — we’re number one!” said Pepper.
Then, said Pepper, there are the drug overdoses that continue to increase by the day.
“To top it all off, we lead the nation in opioid overdoses. The great state of Ohio, with all of our great people. We’re not even number 20. We’re number one. Twelve people a day. Not nearly the seriousness of the response,” said Pepper. “I read J.D. Vance’s book (Hillbilly Elegy) — they’re blaming it on the people. As if the people are more addicting. That’s a bunch of malarkey.”
Pepper said the front lines of the opioid problem are in the local communities that are doing the best they can, despite the effects of trickle down economics.
“Who had all of their money taken from them the moment that crisis exploded? Tied their hands behind them and took their money? We’re number one in the country for overdoses,” said Pepper. “In 2018 the question can be called, ‘Do you like everything I just described…do you like that most communities are struggling, or do you want to change?’
“In 2018 we will have four (Democrat) candidates running for governor, maybe more, and they’ll bring change, whoever wins. And they’ll go against Mike DeWine, who has not changed. He was attorney general that whole time the crisis has been happening. We need to make the case about change very strongly. We have a great group of candidates running for governor.”
Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton