By Sonali Kolhatkar
The Republican Party has once more demonstrated that it has no respect for democracy and is determined to hold on to power by any means necessary. GOP state lawmakers in Wisconsin this week engaged in a brazen power grab in the form of bills that were introduced, debated and voted on with breathtaking speed in order to cripple the decision-making powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Legislators called a special session late last Friday, and then, as protesters marched and rallied outside the state Capitol building, the politicians debated in a closed-door session. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, before the sun rose, senators voted on and passed the bills and GOP members prevailed by a single-vote margin. A few hours later, their counterparts in the Wisconsin House did the same—by a larger margin.
What is happening in Wisconsin symbolizes the latest tactics of a party that has set itself up for minority rule at the expense of democracy.
According to The New York Times, the bills ensure that “[t]here would be a new limit on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, after an election that saw record-breaking turnout.” Additionally, the Times reported, “[l]awmakers, not the governor, would control the majority of appointments on an economic development board.” The bills also curb the incoming governor’s ability to ban guns from the state Capitol and to protect the Affordable Care Act from legal challenges, among other things.
Wisconsin’s House speaker, Republican Robin Vos, disingenuously claimed on Twitter on Wednesday that “Democrats have been exaggerating and resorting to hyperbole throughout the debate.” He added sagely, “The vote is about ensuring equal branches of government exist in #Wisconsin especially during this time of divided government.” But a day earlier, Vos let slip his real agenda, saying, “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.” It apparently has not occurred to Vos that voters, who live in a democracy, have elected the “very liberal” Evers over incumbent Scott Walker.
Wisconsin’s Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, also had a moment of honesty, saying Monday …
Republicans Are Undermining Democracy State By State — What Republican legislators just did in Wisconsin – passing bills to strip key powers from the governor-elect, Tony Evers, and other newly elected Democratic officials – is a total betrayal of the people of Wisconsin and our nation’s democratic ideals. Michigan is passing a similar set of bills and North Carolina Republicans are accused of paying someone to steal absentee ballots and commit election fraud for a US House candidate. In Ohio, other undemocratic efforts are under way. It seems that Republicans officials nationwide from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell and right down the line don’t have a problem assaulting our democracy if it means holding onto their power. This is not how democracy works, and these maneuvers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina are not just power grabs. They are deliberate efforts to undermine democracy and our faith in it. And these efforts are getting more brazen and desperate every year. … Read the Rest
- Effort To Cripple Wisconsin, Michigan Governors Stirs Separation-of-powers Debate — If Democrats sue to prevent Republicans from diluting the powers of newly elected governors and attorneys general in Wisconsin and Michigan, the lawsuits will probably center on one question: Are lawmakers usurping authority that belongs to the executive branch? The legal threat arose after Republicans passed bills Wednesday that would give lawmakers leverage over actions previous governors and attorneys general could carry out on their own. If the bills are signed by outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker, lawmakers will decide when the state can withdraw from lawsuits, and the new Democratic governor will have to ask permission to adjust programs that are run jointly with the federal government, such as Medicaid. “Separation of powers is an essential part of overall governance and built into the constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal legal organization. “I think that’s going to be issue one.” Walker, who was defeated last month by Tony Evers, has indicated support for the GOP measures … Read the Rest
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )