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 U.S. 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. I am enraged and, frankly, sick of the shenanigans.
Everything from gerrymandering to attempts at voter suppression have been long-term projects of the monied interests. But, like the white supremacists’ public actions and the attacks on the media in the age of Trump, Republicans making their power grabs around the country are particularly emboldened right now.
The lame-duck session concept isn’t new either – it has just being taken to new extremes. Congress has used lame-duck sessions repeatedly for work that should have been conducted during the regular session. North Carolina Republicans showed Wisconsin Republicans how to mess with democracy back in December of 2016 when they successfully diminished the powers of the incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.
A lame-duck session should only be for emergency measures. Too many people voting is not an emergency. Ultimately we need legislative solutions. Gains that were made in the midterm elections have given congressional Democrats a chance to push back and show the country it’s not just business as usual.
That’s why the group I have founded, Legit Action, is joining with like-minded groups like Common Cause and Daily Kos to support the House Democrats’ first legislative priority for next year, HR 1 – a vital set of pro-democracy safeguards that includes many much needed fixes authored by reformers such as Democratic representative John Sarbanes of Maryland. After what happened in Wisconsin, and what’s still happening elsewhere, there’s no time to waste in spreading the word about this effort.
Passing this crucial bill is going to be tough with Republicans almost universally committed to abusing the current system and leveraging it for their partisan gain. But the people we need to convince to support reforms like this will never come over to our side if they don’t see us speaking out. We must use our voices. We have to keep encouraging each other. We need to start building momentum right now.