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Commentary: 'Open Ohio' Protesters Need To Open Their Eyes To Reality

Protesters gathered outside of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Monday April 20, 2020, in objection of the stay-at-home order that was in effect until May 1. On April 30, Gov. Mike DeWine extended the order through May.
Gene J. Puskar
Protesters gathered outside of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Monday April 20, 2020, in objection of the stay-at-home order that was in effect until May 1. On April 30, Gov. Mike DeWine extended the order through May.

If you were to believe what you see on the mainstream media, on social media and everywhere else, you would think there was a major revolution brewing – the people rising up and taking to the streets and to the statehouse halls screaming to throw the gates open and declare the pandemic over.

Don't believe it. It's an optical illusion.

These people marching about grasping huge automatic weapons in their tiny little hands do not represent the majority. In fact, they are a minority of the minority.

Don't tread on me! Haircuts for all! My right to have a tattoo whenever I want out ranks your right to live!

The storming of the Statehouse in Michigan by these protesters, many of them carrying weapons, is the most egregious example. Ohio, too, has seen its own nonsense by people who can not understand why - after all we have been through and are still dealing with - everything can't instantly snap back to normal.

Don't try to talk about the science of a pandemic to them; that is the last thing they want to hear.

And so we end with spectacles such as angry people, some of them carrying guns, marching on the sidewalk outside the suburban Columbus home of Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, in a really disgusting abuse of First Amendment rights. Everyone has the right to protest, but being threatening and targeting people in their homes is beyond the pale.

There are online petitions on social media calling for the impeachment of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

When you see these people in the media, please remember this: They represent a small sliver of the population, both in Ohio and nationally.

Tuesday morning, a Washington Post/Ipsos poll of multiple states was released and it showed that DeWine – one of the first governors to organize a response to the pandemic – has the highest approval rating of any governor in the country on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

DeWine's approval rating is at 86%, while 14% of Ohio adults polled said they disapprove. The national average for governors is 71%.

DeWine is taking a cautious, piecemeal approach to reopening Ohio, ignoring the calls from the protesters that everything be opened at once. He knows the virus is still out there, and going too fast could just make a bad situation worse.

"My message to my fellow Ohioans has always been that we can do two things at once, but we can only do them if we are very, very careful about it,'' DeWine said in his daily press briefing Monday.

And that is how you get an 86% approval rating.

If you are a governor like Republican Brian Kemp of Georgia and you try to rush into reopening the state, you end up with a 39% approval rating, which is what Kemp has now, according to the Washington Post/Ipsos poll.

So why these protests, in light of the legitimate science that suggests going too fast is likely to produce more sickness and death?

One reason is that they are getting a not-so-subtle message from their leader, Donald Trump, who seems to believe that jump-starting the broken economy is more important than saving lives. 

The other fact is the phenomenon of "astroturfing," which is the practice of hiding the sponsors of a political message to make it appear as though it is a grassroots movement.

There have been national news reports of astroturfing by pro-gun groups and other conservative organizations ginning up protests around the country, and it appears to be happening in Ohio, too.

Ohio Gun Owners, which is now the largest pro-gun group in the state, has used its Facebook page to organize protests and tout the "impeach DeWine" movement.

Chris Dorr, the head of Ohio Gun Owners, was recently quoted on a website called Second Amendment Daily News:

"Guns in the hands of fabulous Ohioans force wannabes like DeWine from going full-blown tyrant and they're the ultimate check and balance on government."

That's the mindset DeWine is dealing with as he tries to bring Ohio back. Fortunately, there are relatively few of them. And that's the truth.

Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

Read more "Politically Speaking" here.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit .

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.