Convoluted Brian

the weBlog of Brian McCorkle

The Importance of Understanding

Democracy is Fragile

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had a dream of a modern secular democratic Turkey. This dream has been destroyed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogağn and his Justice and Development Party(AKP). With the rise of the AKP and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish democracy has faced a serious decline with laws passed to increase his authority. Laws were passed to criminalize criticism of Erdoğan and the AKP party. Newspapers were taken over by the government.

A likely AKP engineered coup in 2016 was met by Erdoğan’s return to Istanbul, confronting the coup leaders and establishing his power. Afterward, there were massive purges of government officials, police, and military.

Starting with President John Adams, the United States had problems with overreaching partisanship. The Federalists in Congress and President Adams passed the Aliens and Sedition Acts. People were jailed for criticising the Federalist government. Newspapers were fined for speaking out. Newspaper editors were jailed. Thomas Jefferson won the next election, and three of the acts were rescinded.

We have the New York Tammany Hall and the Chicago Daley Machine as two examples of the sordid history of party politics controlling voting procedures that undermine our democracy. Gerrymandering became a tool for political parties to manipulate representation in Congress. Gerrymandering is the favorite method of tilting elections toward the dominant political party.

When I look at the recent shenanigans of the Republican Party, I see attempts to undermine our democracy by manipulating voting. It has done so by making it harder to minority communities to vote. The mechanism used is claim of massive voting fraud that is a claim deficit of evidence. While there have been sporadic cases of voter fraud, they are so rare that the fraud is Republicans using the issue to restrict the rights of honest citizens.

After Republican Scott Walker had been elected Governor of Wisconsin 2011, the Republican legislature proceeded with gerrymandering and voter suppression.(1)

In 2015, Republicans replaced the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board(GAB) with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. So, a board that included six retired judges was replaced with a commission that contained three Republicans and three Democrats, a license for unending deadlock is guaranteed And, the Republican majority legislature gave itself many of the oversight powers of the GAB.

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lost to Democrat Tony Evers in 2018, the Republican led Senate and Assembly lost little time in removing gubernatorial powers from the incoming governor.(2)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had an epiphany. Republican Vos decided that powers awarded to Republican Walker were, in retrospect, excessive. "Maybe we made mistakes giving too much power to Governor Walker …"(3) It took Vos eight years to make that discovery. The election of a Democrat enlightened the Speaker and sent him on a different path.

Governor Walker publically presented a Venn diagram to demonstrate how the legislative lame duck laws changed nothing. Walker did this by putting identical text in both sets instead of actual changes. Walker was lampooned for his feeble effort.(3) Wisconsin Senate President made a "Pants on Fire"(4) claim that nothing had changed with the passage of the lame duck laws.

Vos gave an impassioned speech to his fellow Republicans that undermining the will of the people was important to preserve Republican "beliefs." This is the basis for the passage of removing gubernatorial powers that had been enjoyed by Scott Walker. This was followed by laws that severity limited the ability of newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul to change direction on Republican mandated lawsuits on overturning Affordable Health Care.

There is no secret that outgoing Walker and Republicans generally wanted the affordable health for US citizens to go away. The 2018 election mailings by Republicans Mike Rohrkaste and Roger Roth claimed support expanded healthcare. Rohrkaste mailing lead with "EXPANDING ACCESS TO QUALITY AFFORDABLE HEALCARE.WALKER HAD STATED PUBLICLY HIS SUPPORT FOR AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE." The Roth mailing had a section titled "Improving Health Care." One of the lame duck laws passed by Republicans mandated that the new Democrat Attorney General continue outgoing Attorney General Brad Schimel’s lawsuits aiming to destroy affordable healthcare. The actions of Walker and the Republican legislators were contrary to their public stance.

The response of Wisconsin Republican to the COVID-19 crisis has been opposition to attempts by block Governor Evers attempts to place preventative measures. First; they went to court to block actions that would help in the crisis. Then, proxies took over the court fights to give Republicans a little cover. However, Republicans have refused to put forth any plan.(5) The insistence of placing party over citizens is a blight on the Republican party.

Other states followed the same path. In 2018, North Carolina Republicans lost their legislature super majority that killed their ability to override vetoes from their Democrat Governor, Roy Cooper, despite their past gerrymandering. The North Carolina Republicans still passed laws restricting voting aimed at black voters.(6)

Michigan Republicans passed lame-duck laws after Gretchen Whitmer won the governor election. Outgoing Republican governor Rick Snyder vetoed some and approved others.(7)

in 2019 Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee signed laws to criminalize submitting registration forms too late, and other registration related infractions. The bill was aimed at the Tennessee Black Voter Project and 86000 voters the group had help register to vote(8).

Democrats are not exempt from the same behaviors that Republicans have favored. It is imperative that if Democrats gain control of political offices they behave and place good public policy above party loyalty. Special interest groups will need to be scrutinized to weigh their policies above enriching small segments of the population.

Above all, there is a need to ensure that all citizens have the right and wherewithal to vote. It is important to maintain a healthy electorate. It is important to maintain an educated electorate. If political parties put party above all our well being, then our democracy will be lost.

—————————————————

1. 5 Things to Know About the Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case

2. Here’s how Wisconsin Republicans want to strip power from incoming Democrats

3. Scott Walker Gets Mercilessly Mocked By Twitter Users Over Venn Diagram Fail

4. Roger Roth incorrectly says lame duck bills didn’t take any power from governor or attorney general

5. Gov. Tony Evers says he’s still waiting on Republican COVID-19-response plan

6. N.C. voter suppression architects prepare to strike again

7. Michigan Republicans lame-duck drive to hobble Democrats fails – mostly

8. New Tennessee law punishes voter signup missteps; suit filed”

by Brian McCorkle
posted on 30 October, 2020 at 20:51 pm
in category Rants

When political parties strive to suppress opposing views, democracy will wither.



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