The Columbus Dispatch
October 12, 2022

‘Without democracy, your voice will not be heard.’ Autocratic rulers our enemy| Opinion

“What autocratic rulers care about is power and money for themselves and their big campaign contributors today.”- Mayda Sanchez Shingler

By Mayda Sanchez Shingler

There is a growing trend in the business community, small and large, to promote sustainability.

The goal is for businesses to have the least negative impact on their physical, community and economic environment.

Essentially, sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability thus promotes long-term business success, a growing economy, and a healthy environment for all into the future.

A sustainable nation and world must be achieved to address all the threats that we face today—climate disasters, freshwater shortages, rising seas, food shortages, pandemics, etc.

My organization has been a leader in advocating for sustainability.

As a statewide coalition of Ohio businesses and business networks, we are committed to public policies at the local, state, and federal levels that support a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy.

Our ability to impact public policy rests on a strong democracy because those who are in or seek to be in public office must be willing to hear our advocacy. In a democracy, they must listen to the people they seek to represent and hopefully, base their issue positions on the input they receive. Otherwise, they might not be elected to office in our free, fair, and secure elections.

Unfortunately, many in our state and country see democracy as being less important than securing victory for their favorite candidate.

For these opponents of democracy, winners of elections should not be decided by the number of votes received, but by legislatures or government officials who can determine victors by ignoring vote counts, manipulating voting rules, and not allowing certain citizens to even vote.

Regardless of the position on issues you hold—conservative, moderate, or progressive—without democracy, your voice will not be heard. Autocratic rulers are not concerned about being reelected because they have rigged the process to stay in office.

Some politicians have already manipulated the system to remain in office.

Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O’Connor, in a recent speech, expressed her concerns with the process that has failed to correct Ohio’s gerrymandered district maps. Voters demanded reforms but were repeatedly blocked by political leaders seeking to hold onto power by any means.

What autocratic rulers care about is power and money for themselves and their big campaign contributors today. This is how it has been in Russia since Vladmir Putin became an autocratic ruler.

In Russia, dissent is not allowed, and Putin’s oligarchs can use the levers of government to control the economy. Entrepreneurship dies because holding onto a successful small business is always in jeopardy and depends on those in power.

Under an autocracy, all power and money flows to the top. Autocracies have an insatiable appetite for both regardless of the consequences for the average citizen.

That is why autocratic governments have no interest in sustainability. It would stifle their short-term quest for wealth and power. Autocrats are unconcerned about the well-being of future generations. This must not become the future for Ohio or America.

For voters who believe in sustainability, who want to have politicians listen to them and not just to deep-pocketed contributors, they need to be concerned about protecting democracy this November.

For voters who want to support entrepreneurship and small businesses and not be totally dependent on big corporations, they need to be concerned about protecting democracy this November.

For voters who want the small business community to play a key role in growing our economy in a manner that creates good jobs and lays the foundation for sustainable economic growth and a strong middle class, they need to be concerned about protecting democracy this November.

Before voters go to the polls in November, they need to know where the candidates stand on protecting democracy and vote accordingly.

Our future depends upon it.

Mayda Sanchez Shingler is the executive director of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council and a leader of the Ohio Business for Democracy collaborative.

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