Ohio’s gerrymandered districts let politicians ignore rural voters

A common notion about gerrymandering here in Ohio is that, as practiced by the party currently in power in Ohio, it gives rural voters (because they tend to lean Republican) disproportionate influence at the expense of Democrat-leaning urban voters. As a lifelong rural resident and Ohio farmer, I can tell you that Ohio’s distorted districts aren’t working for my community, either.

In my 30 years of policy and advocacy work, I’ve seen the needs and interests of family farmers ignored, time after time, by state and federal officeholders. Why are politicians able to do this and still get re-elected? Because their gerrymandered districts pretty much guarantee that the nominee for the party that did the gerrymandering will win. And with so little competition in general elections, the most extreme candidates are free to serve ideological agendas and/or their biggest financial contributors with little thought for the people they’re supposed to represent.

Two issues on which I’ve worked for years illustrate the problem. One is the need for a law mandating “country of origin labeling,” or COOL, for agricultural products. While just about every sweater, dish or pair of shoes we buy clearly indicates the country where it was made, the same isn’t true for much of the food, especially beef and pork, imported to the U.S.

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