Government should respect the will of the voters. That’s what democracy is all about.
Someone should tell that to lawmakers in Wisconsin and Michigan who are scheming to thwart voters’ intentions in the Nov. 6 election. In both states, voters chose Democratic governors and other statewide officials, but Republican legislators are busy trying to reduce the incoming officials’ power, in direct defiance of what the people in their states want.
There’s a name for this, but it isn’t democracy.
In Wisconsin, Republicans pushed through bills Wednesday in a lame-duck session to limit the power of the incoming governor and attorney general, both Democrats. Incoming Gov. Tony Evers said he will make a personal appeal to outgoing Gov. Scott Walker to veto the bills.
If Walker has any sense of responsibility and decency, he will do so.
Walker and the Republican majorities in both houses of the state assembly have taken Wisconsin on a sharp, rightward direction, including undermining unions and weakening environmental protections. By choosing Democrats in all statewide races, voters in Wisconsin clearly want to go in a different direction. Using scheming legal tactics to override the voters’ intent is indefensible.
Although they hold a majority in the state’s assembly, the Republicans have no claim to the high ground. In the last redistricting of Wisconsin, the GOP drew up one-sided voting maps to all but eliminate Democrats’ chances of winning a majority in the assembly. On Nov. 6, Democratic candidates for the assembly won 53 percent of the vote statewide, but came away with only 36 percent of the seats.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, Democrats will hold the governor, attorney general and secretary of state offices for the first time in 28 years. But Republicans who control the state’s legislature on Wednesday advanced legislation that would take away campaign-finance oversight power from the incoming Democratic secretary of state. The state’s House also planned to pass a bill that would give legislators the power to intervene in lawsuits, a role now left up to the state’s attorney general.
We’ve seen all this play out in North Carolina, where similar tactics have forced taxpayers to spend millions of dollars on legal bills. In that state, Republican supermajorities two years ago placed new restrictions on the power of the governor after Democrat Roy Cooper beat a GOP incumbent for the seat. The state’s government has been mired in litigation ever since.
We hold elections to let voters steer government in the direction they choose. To manipulate the system to go in a different direction is simply undemocratic.
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