Michigan Republicans: Enemies of Democracy?

As I write this, Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are doing everything they can to thwart the will of the people and make sure reforms the voters clearly want won’t happen.

Having decisively lost the elections last month, the Republicans are trying to take power away from the winners and the voters before they leave office. This is despicable, anti-democracy, and un-American. Much of what they are doing is also probably unconstitutional. But these legislators, many of whom will be gone forever at the end of the month, couldn’t care less.

They can’t be held accountable by the voters any longer, and are fighting to shove through a last-minute package of unsavory bills to please the special interests that have funded them and frustrate those who won the election.

Many of the Republican lawmakers doing this clearly have never really read or understood the Constitutions of Michigan or the United States. They are not worried about the things our Founding Fathers worried about – fairness, for example.

No, they seem to care only about winning, control and money.

Ironically, America is burying the first President Bush today. Despite his reputation for decency and civility, he could be a tough and nasty partisan fighter.

But when George H.W. Bush lost his reelection to Bill Clinton, it never occurred to him to try and weaken the powers of the presidency, or to try to make what voters did null and void.

Today’s Republicans are an entirely different species. They are now holding what’s called a lame duck session of the legislature, as you probably know. They are ramming through bills, including some designed to take away some of the powers of the new attorney general and secretary of state. They are doing this because Democrats won those jobs last month.

One of their most asinine ideas is to allow the legislature to intervene in any court case if it so chooses. I don’t know how that would work, with former farmers and half-time real estate agents allowed to try and sabotage the work of the elected Attorney General.

However, I do know it would make a mockery of what we call justice, democracy and the separation of powers. The comedian Bill Maher said recently that the Republican Party today has no coherent ideology, other than to be a jerk. Actually, the word he used wasn’t “jerk.”

It was a word usually used as a nickname for Richard. And Maher was sadly right. For example, earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of voters signed petitions to put proposals on the ballot to guarantee all workers some sick leave and raise the minimum wage for all workers, especially those who depend on tips. That set off alarms among the rich who employ these folks.

They knew that if this had gotten on the ballot, the voters would have seen the simple justice here and passed these proposals – and that would have cost them money.

But instead of campaigning against them, they got their stooges in the legislature to cynically pass these proposals to keep them off the ballot.

Now that the election is over, they are amending the bills to make things as bad or, in some cases, even worse for these workers than before. This is not just bad policy.

This is a naked attempt to undermine democracy and essentially invalidate the last election and what the voters wanted. Frankly, this means that this once great political party has declared war on democracy, representative government and the people.

From now on, anyone considering voting for any Republican for any office should be forced to confront what this party is, and what supporting it means.