Republicans in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Elsewhere Have Shown What They Think of Voters
Most of us have heard that in Michigan and Wisconsin lame duck sessions are doing evil work. They are building poison pills for the November elections. Let’s be clear about what is going on, what’s the history, and who should stand against such piracy. The answer to that last question may not be what you think.
What is Going On?
The voters in these and other states came out in record numbers and made their choices clear. They have had enough of the mean spiritedness. They rejected the heavy-handed extremism in their state government. They chose the other side for all the key statewide offices. In effect, they told the incumbents,
“You have abused our trust. So, finish up your term with routine work, clear out your desks, and make room for the other guys. If they disappoint us, we will fire them, too.”
But the defeated, at least in some states, have decided on a slow-motion coup. Steps to limit the powers of incoming officials and to further suppress voting are as blatant as it gets.
This is more than “poor sportsmanship.” This is nothing less than telling the voters they don’t count – period. This is attempting to nullify an election. It’s wrong morally and politically. If past court reviews of similar actions are any guide, most are also illegal.
What’s the History?
This might all sound familiar to you. It should. The North Carolina Republicans did the same when they lost statewide offices in 2016. The courts struck down most of the offending actions, but not all. This wastes valuable time and energy. Similar events took place earlier in Virginia.
Legislators in other states are up to similar mischief right now. They are trying to gut voter directed nonpartisan redistricting. Yes, the courts will right much of this. But keep in mind the people doing this kind of thing are also installing as many judges as they can. They likely expect a friendlier reception to their antics. Let us hope judges disappoint them.
It would be a mistake to assign this blot on democracy to the Republicans alone. Democrats have done similar things in the past. What is different here is the scope of the transgressions. Also, how identical they are in content and intent from state to state is striking. This is a coordinated assault on democracy, not some local group scrambling for power.
Who Should Stand Against This?
Here may be the bright spot in this mess. We may have something here that people on different sides of many issues can stand together. Support or reject the agendas of these transgressors before the election as you will. But blocking the will of the people should be unacceptable to us all.
I want my agenda to win out, but not at any cost. When one makes elections meaningless, the price of victory is far too high. Left and Right should be able to stand together as fellow citizens. This transcends our other differences, important though they may be.
The citizens of Wisconsin may be showing us the way. Once again, the state capitol is over flowing with people who will not be denied and will not let this go on in the shadows. At one recent legislative session, something on the order of 300 people signed up to speak. Meeting rooms are bursting with citizens who want to be heard and want transparency on who does what. Legislators’ offices are filled with people.
Many Wisconsinites did the same thing earlier, protesting Walker administration excesses. The people protesting were said to have lost that round, but in fact, they planted a seed. They raised awareness. They harvested the fruits of those labors on November 6.
You should be offended that any politicians would so brazenly end-run their citizens. Offended? Make that enraged. I know I am. If this is OK, why bother with elections at all?
A Special Opportunity
There is special opportunity here for those who vote Republican. You have a unique opportunity to reach out to the people doing this. Tell them you are with them on policy and a host of issues. But this is unacceptable conduct. You expect better of them. You cannot, will not, support in the next election those who try to steal the last one. Let’s all live up to our responsibilities, Americans.
I cannot imagine a better New Year’s resolution than taking this on, head first, now.
If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:
(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here.
(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts. Let’s grow our circle.