GOP schemes in Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan go against will of the peo­ple

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

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 cam­paign­fi­nance 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.


Peo­ple protest the leg­is­la­ture’s lame-duck ses­sion dur­ing the of­fi­cial Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony at the Capi­tol in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin, on Tues­day.

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