Exhausted Ohio Republicans Announce Sabbatical from Feigning Concern for Working Whites

click to enlarge Rep. Jim Jordan - Gage Skidmore/FlickrCC
Gage Skidmore/FlickrCC
Rep. Jim Jordan

Over the past four years, the Republican Party has successfully rebranded itself from Wall Street courtier to champion of working whites. Yet officials say that’s come at a cost. All those years of feigned concern for the little people have left leaders in Columbus disillusioned and fatigued.

In response, the Ohio GOP announced that it will take a one-year sabbatical from pretending to care. Members will be free to openly express their distaste for the small and unimportant until June 1, 2022, leaving the party five months to resume its faux compassion before the next election.

The decision was made at a closed-door meeting at the Scioto Country Club in Upper Arlington last night. Sources say elected officials railed at party leaders over the direction of the GOP. Many signed up prior to the working whites initiative, when being a Republican meant little more than pushing corporate tax cuts. Their days were spent dining with lobbyists and on “fact-finding missions” to donors’ time-shares in Cabo.

But for the past four years, they’ve been forced to consort with lesser whites, attending pig roasts and VFW fish fries, where they were ridiculed for ordering White Claw. Simulating interest in non-corporate issues has left them exhausted. “Do you know how much time I’ve wasted listening to people talk about their unpaid breast cancer bills?” complained one state senator. “Gimme a break.”

Others worried they could no longer maintain the ruse. Indeed, cracks in the GOP’s messaging strategy have been evident for more than a year.
The party openly urged conservatives to forego Covid safety precautions, leading to 19,700 deaths in Ohio, many among its elderly and rural base. In more recent months, Gov. Mike DeWine announced cuts to unemployment benefits to force workers to fill underpaid jobs. Meanwhile, new voter suppression laws seek to make casting a ballot a gauntlet of misery.

Some argue these lapses are precisely why Republicans should return to being “mean little fuckers,” as Congressman Jim Jordan put it. Polling indicates they’ve done little to hurt the party’s standing with its base. One suburban Cincinnati mayor, who asked to remain anonymous, believes there’s no need to “pretend we care. If we just keep saying ‘China,’ ‘woke,’ and ‘cancel culture,’ they don’t notice we’re boning them 16 ways to Tuesday.”

Yet Ohio Party Chairman Robert A. Paduchik urged lawmakers to stay the course. By foregoing the pretense of concern, gerrymandering and voter suppression alone may not be enough to maintain rule over Ohio. “Is it that hard to spend 10 minutes nodding as some guy talks about crisis actors in the Strongsville Fire Department?” he pleaded.

Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel echoed the chairman’s concerns. He argued that dropping the schtick would be unfair to U.S. Senate candidates who’ve rebranded themselves as fiery populists. Mandel noted the months he’s spent months adopting a fake southern accent and thinking up go-to phrases like “squishy establishment” and “over our dead bodies.” Any change would mean having to study real issues.

But as the evening wore on, it was clear Paduchik and Mandel were in the minority. Shouts of “freedom” echoed through the banquet hall. In a rousing speech, Congressman Warren Davidson demanded “the liberty to scream at the 15-year-old Arby’s girl, who keeps forgetting the goddamned curly fries in my Beef ‘N Cheddar combo meal.” His words were met with a standing ovation.

Evident that he was on the losing side, Paduchik proposed a compromise: The party would take a one-year sabbatical from caring. It would then resume its concern from June 1 to Nov. 8 of 2022. At that time, Republicans could again decide whether to continue as champions of working whites, or return to their natural habitat as obsequies yes-men for the 1 percent.

In a show of solidarity, they also voted to stiff their waitresses on tips for the evening.

As pumped leaders left the gathering, they spoke enthusiastically of torpedoing any legislation that might help the little guy. Congressman Bob Gibbs rattled off a list of proposals he could now openly scorn: “Infrastructure, job training, child-care subsidies, drug pricing reform – the list is endless.”

Others bathed in the newfound joy of forsaking common courtesy. “If I have to say ‘thank you for your service’ one more time, I’m gonna puke,” remarked a city councilwoman from Winesburg. “I mean, Afghanistan? Nineteen years and we’re still tied? Call me when you get the W, sweetheart.”
Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.
Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.