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The Story of “Go Back to Ohio”

Ahoy there, Charlestonians! Have you ever been stuck in traffic behind a car with an Ohio license plate and found yourself muttering, “Go back to Ohio?” You’re not alone.

Welcome to the unofficial club! Let’s deep dive into the origins of this not-so-subtle catchphrase and explore why it’s plastered on bumper stickers around the Holy City.

A Brief History of “Go Back to Ohio”

First things first. Where did this phrase even come from? In essence, “Go Back to Ohio” serves as a cheeky password that grants you entry into the Good Ol’ Southern Discontent Club. It’s a phrase rooted in regional jest, yet marinated in genuine concerns.

From Michigan to Florida, and of course, Charleston, you can find bumper stickers that gleefully broadcast this message. It’s as if these three-and-a-half words hold the power to solve all of our traffic problems and restore home prices to 1980s levels. If only!

The Charleston Context: Lowcountry, High Tensions

Source: @goback2ohio on Instagram.

Now let’s get hyper-local. Why does this catchphrase resonate so much in Charleston? Here’s the 411:

1. Real Estate Roller Coaster

Ohioans, often rolling in equity from their home state, are inflating Charleston’s real estate market faster than you can say “pimento cheese”. The next time you find yourself priced out of a home you’ve been eyeing, remember to chuckle and shake your fist at Ohio.

2. Bye-Bye, Southern Charm

If you’ve felt a seismic shift in our local culture, don’t adjust your seismometer. That’s just the weight of Ohioan influence tinkering with our social norms. Apparently, Southern charm has a weight limit, and we’ve reached it.

3. Traffic Jams and Congestion

The unwelcome sight of Ohio license plates has become synonymous with the congestion plaguing our once quaint city. Rush hour has become every hour. And don’t get me started on the endless construction of roads leading to nowhere but more traffic.

4. Tourism vs. Community

Tourism is the bread and butter of Charleston’s economy, but Ohio’s arrival seems like adding five extra sticks of butter. Sure, we’re richer for it, but at what cost to our community’s waistline?

5. Environmental Shenanigans

Charleston’s unique ecosystem is becoming the unwitting victim in this tale. More people equal more pollution, congestion, and risks to our lovely swamps and marshes. Are we going to exchange our natural beauty for Ohio’s infamous cornfields? I think not.

6. Economic Woes

The inflow of Buckeye wealth might appear like a blessing, but it’s also an insidious catalyst for widening Charleston’s economic gap. Translation: We’re not all feeling the economic love equally.

7. Sports: A Brief and Trivial Note

Ohio’s fierce love for their sports teams has been known to encroach on our own holy ground of college football. But let’s be honest, our teams could take theirs any day of the week (probably not, to be truly honest).

Final Thoughts: A Complex Equation

Let’s not kid ourselves; not every Ohioan is an unwitting agent of chaos. Many are contributing positively to Charleston’s landscape. But that doesn’t mean we can’t rib them a little!

So the next time you see a “Go Back to Ohio” bumper sticker, give it a wink and a nod, because, in Charleston, the phrase is as much a part of our local vernacular as “y’all.”


And so, dear readers, if you see a Charlestonian muttering under their breath while stuck in traffic, give them some space. They’re probably just reciting our unofficial city mantra: Go Back to Ohio.