Dirty Politics and Sore Losers

Jimmy Carter was, and is, regarded as a good and decent man, but after he had served a term as President, there was a strong feeling he just wasn’t up to the job.

When he ran for re-election, Ronald Reagan defeated him by a landslide.  Republicans made big gains in Congress, and won a majority in the Senate for the first time in decades. But under our Constitution, the new President and Congress didn’t take office for two and a half months.  Democrats still would, and did, control everything until then.

Democrats were horrified Reagan had won. But while they still had the power, did they try to ram laws through limiting the new President’s powers, or to give the House of Representatives the authority to try and overrule what the new attorney general did?   Not only did they not do anything like that, they never even thought about it.

Neither did the Republicans when the first George Bush lost his reelection bid twelve years later. Closer to home, Democrats lost the governorship of Michigan and our state house of representatives when a huge “red wave” washed across the land eight years ago.

They were unhappy, but it never occurred to them to try and mess with our traditional, and I would say sacred, separation of powers.  But the world is different today.

We have a President of the United States who doesn’t care much for tradition, knows little about government and cares nothing about the truth.

Perhaps inspired or emboldened by this, the Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are now engaged in an outrageous and obscene attempt to strip away the powers of the secretary of state and the attorney general and give them to the legislature, which they still control.

Robert VerHeulen, a term-limited state representative who will be out of office in five weeks, has introduced a bill to allow the legislature to intervene in any action in any state court, something that would infringe on the office of attorney general, overturn our traditional separation of powers, and create the potential for chaos.

VerHeulen, who spent his career as an attorney for the Meijer supermarket chain, wants to empower both the House and the Senate to meddle in the courts by giving them the right to, quote “take any action or step whatsoever that is had or possessed by any of the parties to such legislation,” including applying for a re-hearing or an appeal.

As a lawyer, VerHeulen should know better.  Think about this:  He wants to give a bunch of amateur politicians, many of whom have never been to college, let alone law school, the authority to meddle in our legal proceedings.  During the past eight years, the Michigan legislature hasn’t even been able to figure out how to properly fix our roads.

We want them to make a mess of our courts?

What this is really about is power.  Once again, the Republicans have demonstrated that they care nothing for what the voters want or what our laws are. Michigan citizens decisively voted this month to give power to the Democrats.   What GOP legislative leaders are doing amounts to an attempted coup against democracy.

Governor Rick Snyder should veto these outrages if they make it to his desk. Failing that, this should and hopefully will be declared unconstitutional by any court a challenge lands in.

Democracy depends on both sides playing fair and agreeing to abide by the rules.  Today, to their eternal shame, we have a Republican party that will not do that.

They have to be stopped, or we won’t have democracy worthy of the name.