Conspiracy Theorist

This isn’t democracy – it’s worse

 By Mark Luedtke

Dayton’s rulers suffered an historic defeat at the polls Tuesday, May 7. I knew the people of Dayton were fed up with the long time status quo, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

Only 9,869 people voted in the runoff election for mayor. That’s a fantastically low turnout.  According to Wikipedia, the 2011 population estimate for Dayton is 142,148. It’s probably lower now, but that’s the lowest number I could find. Less than seven percent of Dayton citizens selected our mayoral candidates. That means over 93 percent of Dayton’s citizens reject the system. Granted, this analysis does not account for non-voters under the voting age, but even if you subtracted out the underage population, this turnout is still fantastically low. Winner Nan Whaley spent over $100,000 to buy 4,965 votes. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from this farce is the people of Dayton overwhelmingly reject Dayton’s system of rule.

The Dayton Daily News tried to cover up this turnout disaster by focusing on the defeat of incumbent Mayor Leitzell, “City Commissioner Nan Whaley dominated Tuesday’s runoff vote for mayor of Dayton in an election that saw a sitting mayor defeated in a May primary for the first time in at least 50 years.” But this election was about the system, not Leitzell. Before the election, the DDN hinted at the establishment’s problem, “The last time Dayton had a May runoff vote for mayor was 2005, when only 14,465 people voted ­– roughly one-tenth of the city’s population.” Since then, both the population and the turnout percentage have fallen.

This doesn’t surprise me. The people of Dayton have been voting with their feet by leaving the city in droves for 50 years. Dayton’s population loss ranks fifth in the U.S. We’ve lost 20,000 people in the last decade. And we know the problem is taxes. As Dayton’s government steals more of our money, more people leave. Dayton’s 2.25 percent income tax makes everybody 2.25 percent poorer, depressing our economy. College graduates race out of Dayton to get higher paying jobs in vibrant economies in states and cities with lower taxes, especially those with no income tax. Bright people would rather live and work where the government steals less of their money and doesn’t punish productivity.

Dayton’s rulers know this. That’s why they have to grant tax breaks to draw businesses to the region. But the people already here never get a tax break.

Low tax locales tend to have better services, growing art programs and well-maintained infrastructure instead of the disintegrating infrastructure and struggling art community we suffer because we pay exorbitant income taxes to the city and the state. Having no income tax enables wealth creation, which draws people in, improving quality of life. High income taxes push people away, especially the most productive and creative, diminishing quality of life.

Rulers used to claim divine right to rule. U.S. rulers replaced divine right with the “will of the people.” Politicians repeat that mantra with religious reverence. Using a related form, Leitzell commented, “The citizens of Dayton have made their decision and I hope they’re happy with it.” The people have spoken loud and clear. They reject Dayton’s political system and government. If Whaley and candidate A.J. Wagner really care about the will of the people expressed by the overwhelming majority of Daytonians, both will withdraw from the race. The same with candidates for commissioner. But that will never happen because politicians don’t care about the will of the people. They preach that phrase to manipulate us. They care about winning elections so they can control the loot in order to enrich themselves and their cronies. It doesn’t matter if they win two votes to one.

To Leitzell’s credit, his defeat tells us he looted poorly.

The only people motivated to vote in this election were cronies of the candidates. Families, friends, business associates and others who expect to profit if their candidate wins voted. Bureaucrats and city employees who might gain or lose voted. The other 93 percent of Daytonians didn’t vote because no matter who wins, the status quo remains. The income tax remains. The firehouse squandering Dayton’s most valuable property overlooking the river at Main Street and Monument Avenue remains. The public restroom squandering another valuable property overlooking the river at Patterson and Monument remains. The exodus from Dayton continues. The degradation of our great city by government continues.

Terrible turnout is why our rulers put tax levies on the primary ballot. Politicians can energize cronies to vote for new taxes because they will be enriched by them. The other 93 percent, though they will be made poorer by new taxes, know the system is rigged against them so they don’t show up to vote in primaries.

The Founding Fathers famously rejected democracy as majority mob rule. Dayton’s system is even worse. We are ruled by a tiny minority mob of politicians, bureaucrats and cronies for their benefit and our detriment. This is true of every local, state and the federal government in the U.S.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes only.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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