From IU News Room, by Ned Shaw

Ohio is on the short list to be a pivotal state in the national election of 2012. The advertising bombards us on the airways, has been imbedded in online videos, it follows us through social media, greets us at our mailbox, as well as assaulting us by trash-talking in traditional print media. It is heated, critical, mean and at times, contorted.

Is this what Ohioans get for being a key battleground state? How did it come to this? And, can we make it stop?

The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, has decided that the vitriol of this campaign should be discussed in a non-partisan forum to not only learn some of the history of political campaigning in Ohio but to also place this season in context. Do we have a future of something other than escalating spending and escalating negative campaigning?

The Society is partnering with No Labels, a Washington-based movement seeking bipartisan political reforms, to host a forum that aspires to be everything the negative ads are not. The event will be held Thursday, September 27 at 7 p.m. at the Ohio History Center. The Society periodically hosts public programs called “Community Conversations” to engage the public in topics of historic and topical relevance. This will be the next in that series.

This will be an opportunity to hear the panelists discuss the state of the art in political campaigning from a non-partisan point of view. The audience will be encouraged to ask questions and a brief reception with refreshments will follow the presentation allowing audience members to mingle with the panelists, and staff members from the Ohio Historical Society. For the “fun factor,” the Society will provide paper “ballots” so attendees may cast their informal vote for their presidential candidate of choice. The winner of the informal vote will be revealed at the reception. Refreshments will be available. Consider attending this event with your middle-school or high school children to allow them an insight into the political process that will be civil. In addition the informal casting of a vote for a presidential candidate can have an early influence on a teen, and allow him or her to begin to absorb the responsibility and the experience of the right to vote in the U.S.

“With Ohio once again in the spotlight of an important presidential race, a panel discussion focusing on stories from Ohioans with firsthand knowledge of Ohio’s political history would be timely and we think of great interest to central Ohioans,” said a spokesperson for the Society. “OHS wants to promote civic engagement in ways that can draw upon history to connect with events taking place today. We think this forum, ‘Bridging the Divide,’ is an excellent way to do that.”

Ann Fisher, Host and Producer of WOSU’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher” will serve as the moderator for the discussion. At this writing, the other forum participants have not been confirmed.

Details: Thursday, September 27, 7p, in the Auditorium of the Ohio History Center, 800 E. 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43211. Enter through the main “Welcome Lobby” of the Ohio History Center. Parking is free. To allow the widest possible attendance, admission is being waived and a voluntary contribution is suggested. See the website, for more details, or call: 614-297-2300.