Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Grand Theft Elections

Update: (Not again! Every time it gets busy at work, I miss getting added to the daily Mike's Blog Round-Up at! Sigh. Thank you this time to Frances Langum of the Professional Left podcasts!)

It used to be, not even that long ago, that the political parties showed at least some deference some respect to how the voters made up their minds each election cycle.

But something changed with the Republican Party. Whatever it's been that has driven that party further to the Right on issues, it's also driven them to a point where they won't even give Democrats a modicum of respect when the voters side with Dems.

We've seen it at the national level, when the Republicans dismissed and belittled Bill Clinton's Presidency, even pursuing any hint of scandal to find a way to impeach him out of office. We've seen it from Day One of Obama's entire tenure - with a plan of obstruction and denial on a scale never before seen - where they even denied Obama was an honest-to-God American.

And now we're seeing it at the state level. In situations where the voters have put a Democrat into the governor's office (or other elective executive offices like the Attorney General in Michigan), the Republican-controlled legislatures are holding "lame duck" sessions passing extremist laws taking away much of those offices' power or authority to do ANYTHING.

We saw it last elections in 2016 when North Carolina's GOP legislature decided to kneecap the incoming Democratic governor there (via Tara Golshan at

Within 48 hours, on a late December night in 2016, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a series of bills that pulled Cooper’s ability to make key cabinet appointments without their approval, drastically cut the size of Cooper’s administration, and changed the Board of Elections so that Republicans would control it in election years. They ensured lawsuits had to first go through the Republican-controlled appeals court, before the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court.
Democrats — who thought of Cooper’s victory as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise devastating year for the party — were blindsided...

It doesn't matter if the North Carolina Dems have fought every twisted GOP law in the courts. It's caused just enough delay and confusion to where Governor Cooper has achieved little in office. A perfect example the state Leges in Michigan and Wisconsin are following with great relish.

Worse, the Republican legislatures are insulting the voters directly. Voter referendums that went against GOP dogma - like raising the minimum wage, or opening up voter registration to make it easier to vote - are being blatantly ignored, sabotaged, and overwritten.

To note what is happening in Michigan (via Nancy LeTourneau in Washington Monthly but linking to Paul Waldman in the WaPo ):

Republicans are responding to a Democratic sweep of statewide offices by giving the legislature the ability to overrule the attorney general on state lawsuits and take authority over campaign finance regulation away from the secretary of state. They are also considering a bill to cut off voter registration 14 days before every election, in effect overruling a same-day registration initiative voters just passed...
...Michigan activists had organized to get enough signatures to put a couple of items on the ballot: an increase in the minimum wage and paid sick leave for all workers. If those initiatives had been approved by voters, a two-thirds majority in the legislature would be needed to amend them.
In September, both of those measures were passed, exactly as written, by the state legislature, ensuring they would be removed from the ballot. Over the last week, however, Republican legislators have amended them via a simple majority vote...

The Republicans knew those referendum items were too popular, so they staged a fake-out to get them removed from the ballot and then when all was safe rewrote everything so that the voters would get screwed.

This is not governance. This is bullying.

If we can go back to Golshan at Vox:

“North Carolina set a precedent in playing a kind of political hardball that we haven’t seen in other places,” Rick Hasen, an election law scholar with the University of California Irvine, said. “Does it spiral out of control? This has been more asymmetric with Republicans, but I don’t think it would always stay that way...”
In Wisconsin, some of these proposals passed on Wednesday, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker said he would sign them into law. In all, they would limit Evers’s power to change policies around welfare, health care, and economic development, cut down early voting, and allow the Republican-led legislature to undermine the attorney general, giving them the power to block his decision to remove Wisconsin from federal lawsuits.
“Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th,” Evers said in a statement.
In Michigan, a Republican proposal would guarantee the GOP-controlled legislature the right to intervene in any legal battles involving state laws that the attorney general may be reluctant to defend, like restrictions for same-sex couples looking to adopt...
This isn’t normal. There’s a basic understanding in a democracy that when one party wins, they have won.
But Republicans across the country are explicitly rejecting election outcomes. In Wisconsin, the Republican state House Speaker Rep. Robin Vos said the reforms were necessary because otherwise, he said, “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.”
These legislatures are turning to extremes, and before long those extremes can become the new norm.
“It’s a further devolution of norms of democracy, where the losers accept the results of an election and move on,” Hasen said. “This is about polarization generally, and a break down of political norms...”

Back to LeTourneau:

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed many examples of how Republicans have been willing to spit in the face of our democratic principles to maintain their power. But this one should probably take its place at the top of the list. Could it be any more obvious that Republicans have nothing but contempt for the voting public? If this little charade is allowed to stand, what it will take to wake people up to that reality?

This has been one of the reasons why I'd been screaming STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN for the longest time. Republicans are not concerned with leading or responding to the people's will: Republicans want power and more of it, and Republicans want their tax-cut and patriarchal Utopia at all costs. They are willing to bend and break every rule to keep in power even when the majority of Americans are telling them NO We Do Not Trust You With That Anymore.

This is how we've gotten to Minority Rule of an increasingly shrinking and dying party unwilling to accept their losses when they happen and rebuild into a more responsive party.

It would be pretty to think that the growing Majority of Voters will push back, stop voting Republican, drive them out of office. But the bastards are exploiting their ungodly advantage of Gerrymandering to rig the votes, to give them enough seats in the Legislatures to keep rigging more votes and more tricks and more obstruction to favor them.

We're not going to see a truly representative state where the Republicans hold sway. They can't afford to let that happen. We are not going to see any salvation until Gerrymandering itself is wiped out of our electoral process once and for all.

Until then, every election is under threat of thievery by the GOP.

Gods help us.


dinthebeast said...

Until we can un-gerrymander the districts, we'll have to keep winning elections by ten points and fight like hell to let our elected representatives govern.
I think the overall vote tally for the house last month is at 8.6% in our favor, which is historic, but we need to aim for ten because they cheat.
At least the newly elected Democrats are prioritizing election reforms right out of the gate, although nothing they pass will get a vote in McConnell's senate, much less get Fergus' signature.
So we have our work cut out for us.
2020 will be harder than 2018 was, but me must win, and win big.
The good news is that we have the numbers to do so, the hard part will be making sure our voters are motivated to turn out in numbers large enough to overcome the cheating they will employ.
We did a good job of it this time, and we turned out 60 million voters in a midterm, which is unheard of, and about what McCain and Romney got in their presidential bids.
Meanwhile, in whichever states we do get to govern, we need to implement independent commissions for redistricting, and get some support for state level Dems who can get those districts drawn more fairly in states where they have to be drawn by the state legislatures.

-Doug in Oakland

Ed said...

The majority of "Americans" don't vote so both sides are screwing them.