GOP authoritarians are engaged in a coup against democracy (Updated)


Two years ago after authoritarian Tea-Publicans in North Carolina lost the governorship, we witnessed outrageous Tea-Publican tyranny: a GOP legislative coup against democracy in North Carolina (excerpt):

Daily Kos reports, North Carolina Republicans execute legislative coup against democracy itself:

Last month, Democrat Roy Cooper unseated Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, while Democrats also gained a majority on the state Supreme Court, breaking the Republican stranglehold on North Carolina’s state government. Now, though, Republicans have used the pretext of a lame-duck special legislative session—ostensibly convened for disaster relief—to advance a slew of measures that radically curtail the authority of the governor and even the high court itself. This nakedly partisan plot is unprecedented in modern state history. Indeed, you have to go back to the 1890s to find a parallel, when reactionaries violently introduced Jim Crowafter a multiracial coalition of progressives briefly won power.

The scope of the GOP’s war on democracy is stunning. In this special session, Republicans enacted a new law that removes the governor’s party’s control over all the state and county boards of election. That same measure also makes previously nonpartisan state Supreme Court races into partisan contests and requires state constitutional challenges to first go before the Republican-dominated state Court of Appeals. The legislature has passed another bill awaiting McCrory’s signature that would require state Senate approval for the governor’s cabinet appointees. This bill would also slash the governor’s number of executive branch appointees from 1,500 to 425 and eliminate the governor’s ability to appoint members of the state Board of Education and the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees.

UPDATE: Even after a court called their scheme unconstitutional, the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature will try again to design county election boards to guarantee that Republicans have the chair in election years. NC GOP Trying Again To Cement Control Of Local Elections Boards During Election Years.

The North Carolina GOP playbook for a legislative coup against democracy is now in use in Wisconsin and Michigan, where Tea-Publicans have lost control of state governments after the midterm election. Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan, defeated in November, seek payback by limiting the powers of incoming Democrats:

After being defeated at the ballot box last month, Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan are seeking to deny Democrats full control of state government, prompting a public outcry against the attempted power grab[.]

In a scene reminiscent of the protests against the anti-union push by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) eight years ago, demonstrators rallied at the state capitol here Monday and repeatedly spoke out during a hearing on the GOP legislative package, which was introduced late Friday and is expected to come up for a vote as early as Tuesday.

“This is a lame-duck session, and here the legislature is abusing power,” state Rep. Katrina Shankland (D) said during the hearing, calling the move “a slap in the face of every voter who voted in record turnout in the midterms.”

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In the hallways outside the hearing room, protesters chanted, “No mas Vos!” and “No more Walker,” referring to State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and the outgoing Republican governor. More than 300 people had signed up to speak at the hearing, which legislative leaders expected to stretch on until late in the night.

The moves in both states have drawn comparisons to Republican efforts in North Carolina in 2016, when lawmakers pushed through legislation limiting the authority of the state’s Democratic governor-elect, triggering a legal battle that resulted in a loss for the Republicans.

In Wisconsin, the far-reaching proposal by Republican lawmakers would weaken the authority of Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) and state Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, who unseated their Republican opponents last month.

* * *

Among the more controversial parts of the plan are provisions that would limit early voting — which has helped Democrats — restrict Evers’s ability to make appointments and move the Wisconsin 2020 presidential primary to March, a shift that by lessening the turnout for the April 2020 state Supreme Court election would likely boost the chances of conservative judges.

The plan would also take away from the governor the power to withdraw the state from a lawsuit, allowing lawmakers to make the decision instead. That proposal, critics say, is aimed at ensuring Wisconsin remains part of a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission estimated Monday that moving the date of the 2020 presidential primary would cost more than $6 million. In a unanimous vote, the six members of the bipartisan panel said it would be “extraordinarily difficult” to make the move, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Evers said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel over the weekend that “everything’s on the table” in terms of attempting to block the GOP lawmakers’ lame-duck agenda, including legal action.

“The last election changed the state in a way that apparently the legislature has decided to not accept,” he said.

In Michigan, where Democrats last month won the governor’s mansion as well as the races for attorney general and secretary of state, Republican lawmakers introduced measures last week that would water down the authority of those officeholders on campaign finance oversight and other legal matters.

Republicans in both states have defended the moves as necessary to prevent Democrats from unraveling what they view as their legislative successes.

Irony alert: You mean like Tea-Publicans trying to reverse everything President Obama did in his eight years? IOKIYAR apparently.

UPDATE: On November 6, Michiganders overwhelmingly voted to expand access to the ballot in their state and put an end to partisan gerrymandering of districts. Michigan voters passed the Promote the Vote proposal by 67 to 33 percent. But Michigan GOP Goes After Voter-Passed Measures Expanding Access To Ballot. As the Detroit Free Press reported, GOP lawmakers are proposing over a dozen measures in the lame duck session to lock in their policy priorities and undermine provisions approved by Michigan voters just weeks ago.

Other measures up for consideration—a number of which were approved via ballot measure—include watering down legislation related to recreational marijuana legalization, paid sick leave, and raising the minimum wage.

The GOP-led moves drew rebukes from prominent Democrats on Monday, including Steyer and Sanders, both of whom are mulling White House runs in 2020.

Sanders, who has repeatedly traveled to Wisconsin to campaign against Walker, called the efforts “disgraceful” and “pathetic” and said they “must be stopped.” Steyer, the megadonor best known for his campaign to impeach President Trump, accused Republicans of “changing the rules” rather than their ideas or their agenda after their midterm losses.

“The GOP, in Wisconsin and across the country, have made their preference clear: power first, democracy second, and the American people last,” he said in a statement.

Former U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder, another potential presidential candidate, criticized the latest Republican-led efforts in a Sunday tweet.

“The people spoke in November,” Holder said. “Republicans refuse to hear and seek to hold on to power — by any means. This is not good for our democracy. Time for the people in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin to be heard — again. Contact these legislators/let them know you oppose this action.”

Here in Arizona, Tea-Publicans have similarly declared their intentions to undermine Democratic Secretary of State elect Katie Hobbs, Political storms ahead for Dem elections head in red state, and are actively undermining Democratic Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes with unsubstantiated claims of “voter fraud.” Why is the Arizona Republican Party in a tizzy over 2,788 voters?

Tea-Publicans are already plotting a legislative agenda to impose new onerous restrictions on voting. Slow vote count spurs talk of changes in election laws. Joel Edman, executive director of Arizona Advocacy Network, explains It shouldn’t take weeks to figure out who won Arizona elections. Here’s a better way (excerpt):

3 things we should not do

On the other hand, most of the ideas coming from politicians are pretty bad. For example, forcing voters who drop off their ballots on Election Day – an estimated 320,000 this year – to wait in line and feed their ballots into counting machines would lead to much longer lines at the polls. That’s the last thing we need.

Imposing an earlier deadline to mail early ballots would also lead to longer lines, and would make us an outlier nationally (currently, only three states don’t count ballots received by Election Day). If anything, we should look to the 12 states – including Ohio, Texas and Utah – that actually count ballots received after Election Day.

Finally, let’s not take a step backwards from the uniform “cure period” for early ballot signature mismatches agreed to by all 15 counties in a recent legal settlement.

Mismatches occur on a very small percentage of ballots, often because a voter has a stroke or other medical condition that alters their handwriting. Providing those voters a short window of time to verify their identity, like we do for voters who don’t have their ID with them on Election Day, is perfectly reasonable.

If we want a faster count in Arizona, let’s listen to the folks who do the counting. It we let partisan political agendas take priority, it will be our fundamental right to vote that suffers.

Recently reelected Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich attempted to throw cold water on these unhinged Tea-Publicans and their unsubstantiated claims of “voter fraud.”  The Arizona Capitol Times reports, AG suggests measured words when making allegations of fraud in election:

Attorney General Mark Brnovich warned Monday that people “need to be really careful when making serious allegations” about election fraud or other issues or risk undermining democracy.

Brnovich’s comments came on the heels of the state formally certifying the results of last month’s election. There were no surprises in the legally required formality involving Brnovich, Gov. Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales.

But the results come after charges by Jonathan Lines, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, that there were irregularities in the procedures used. And Lines even has started his own party-financed “independent audit” of the practices in Maricopa County.

Ducey, as the top elected Republican in the state – and someone who got help from the state GOP – repeatedly dodged questions about the efforts by the party chairman to question the conduct of the vote.

“We have had some concerns around certain issues,” the governor continued.

“But I’m not going to expand on that,” Ducey said. “I’m just going to say I’ll let his investigation or what he wants to focus on play out.”

Brnovich, however, gave a somewhat more direct response to the question about the activities of Lines, though he didn’t mention the state GOP, which also provided financial help for his own reelection effort.

“I think people need to be really, really careful when they make serious allegations,” he said. “One of the things I think that’s problematic in the country today is that people are undermining the integrity of institutions, all sorts of institutions.”

The GOP move comes after Republicans lost their stranglehold on all statewide elections in Arizona.

As Donald P. Moynihan, professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, observes “This is part of a distinctly partisan and anti-democratic trend in state politics: When Republicans lose, they turn away from democratic processes and the will of the people.” Wisconsin Republicans are trying to subvert the will of the voters. They’re part of a larger trend.

Democracies ultimately depend on having stable rules and norms that support those rules — even when things don’t go your way. We agree to this basic logic as citizens; it’s central to our social contract with the state. We should expect the same of our elected officials. Politicians who change the rules of the game because they don’t like the outcomes are a danger to democracy.

UPDATE: In defiance of voters’ will, Wisconsin GOP advances brazen power-grab: As of this morning, the lame duck GOP agenda – unveiled late on Friday – is now on its way to becoming law.

Robin Vos, the Speaker of the Republican-led state Assembly, defended his party’s tactics last night, arguing, “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.”

It’s rare to see an elected leader in the United States show such brazen contempt, not just for democracy, but for the voters of his own state.

As Steve Benen says, “The GOP’s posture is based on an elitist arrogance that democracy is an annoyance that must occasionally be ignored. It’s a sentiment that effectively asks, ‘Who are the voters to tell us what to do with state government?'”

UPDATE: Michael Wagner, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says “Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are changing the job descriptions of the governor and attorney general between Election Day and Inauguration Day simply because their side lost. This is a textbook example of how democracies die.” Election expert: Wisconsin GOP’s power grab is “a textbook example of how democracies die”.

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  1. GOP is burning the last of its credibility with voters to hang on to scraps of power. Vote suppression and corruption, gerrymandering, power stripping upon a loss, and a maniac in the White House they consistently empower and encourage; the legacy of today’s GOP is that there will be no tomorrow’s GOP.

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