EDITORIAL: Sore-loser Republicans change rules post-vote

York Dispatch Editorial Board

As yellow vest-clad protestors stormed the streets of Paris in mass demonstrations against recent government actions this weekend, one can only marvel that similar scenes are not currently playing out in Madison, Wisconsin.

Because the power grab being perpetrated by lame-duck Wisconsin Republicans in their state’s capitol is as egregious as any French tax hike.

After their incumbent governor was defeated in November’s election, Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers have rammed through a secretly crafted, hastily approved raft of measures that would weaken or revoke many powers of the governor (and the state attorney general, another office won by a Democrat).

The bills would, among other things:

  • Prevent the new Democratic governor, Tony Evers, from fulfilling a campaign promise to pull Wisconsin out of a multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
  • Require Evers to get the Legislature’s approval to revise or reverse work requirements for some Medicaid recipients.
  • Limit early voting to two weeks (a huge change in cities like Milwaukee, where early voting starts in September, and where Evers outpolled incumbent Scott Walker by some 138,000 votes en route to his 30,000-vote statewide victory).
in this file photo, Wisconsin Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker visits the Country Club of York at the invitation of Rep. Scott Wagner on July 28, 2015. John A. Pavoncello photo

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A similar power grab is underway in Michigan, again — surprise, surprise! — by a lame-duck Republican statehouse in the wake of a Democratic gubernatorial victory. Both are taking a page from the dirty-tricks playbook employed by Republican legislators in North Carolina in 2016, again after their incumbent governor was defeated.

It is not enough that Republicans maintain unfair power advantages through various voting restrictions and gerrymandered political districts, they now seek to maintain unfair power even when those craven maneuvers fail to result in electoral victory.

Even sadder, there isn’t a national Republican of note principled enough to speak out against these affronts to the voting public.

Of course, how could Americans expect otherwise? Look at the party’s leadership.

The president is incapable of going 24 hours without broadcasting embarrassing displays of nonsense and name-calling on social media. And the Senate majority leader has shown he’s no slouch when it comes to either disregarding the will of the American people to block a Supreme Court candidate nominated by a Democratic president or changing the rules of the chamber to fast-track the confirmation of such candidates named by a Republican president.

Like their standard-bearers in Washington, Republican “leaders” in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere serve only their bases, ignoring that portion of their constituency that does not share their political affiliation. Or — worse — actively subverting their vote when they prove to be in the majority.

How anyone with a conscience or sense of decency can enact, encourage or endorse such shallow selfishness is beyond explanation.

The Wisconsin bills now sit before Walker and there is little suspense about what he will do — despite the fact that, following his own election in 2010, he publicly beseeched his Democratic predecessor not to enact any lame-duck legislative changes. “I feel strongly that if new or updated rules were urgently needed, they would have been completed prior to now,” he wrote, as cited by staffers with long memories at Politico.

So, add hypocritical to the list of Republican sins.

Wisconsin’s voters, with their electoral preferences being reversed, have refrained from the types of demonstrations choking the streets of Paris — and that’s a good thing. What they should not refrain from is voting en masse in 2020 against every lawmaker who had a hand in subverting their will at the ballot box.

The state’s voters are being undermined and insulted. They must show lawmakers that they refuse to be ignored.