Monday, September 22, 2014

Legislature v. voters

Back on Sept. 5, in response to my post about voter-ID laws enacted by the GOP, my friend and debate partner wrote about politics in Michigan's GOP controlled legislature:
Whether or not Republicans retain their power, this year I expect a tragic post-election legislative session in regard to voting rights; women's rights; access to health insurance; everyone's rights to sue over anything controversial; public funding and tax fairness; county, municipal and township funding and services; public education; public employees' rights; privatization; environmental exploitation (including a corporate grab for Michigan's fresh water riches); prisoners' rights and opportunities. A disaster for all minorities (including LGBT's), the middle class and the less fortunate of all kinds. If Republican power is then lame-duck, as we may still hope, their legislative onslaught will be as deep as its masters can conceive -- it will be the GOP's last gasp. If Republicans retain power, they will press their agenda strongly. Public contempt and electoral remorse will make no difference. We should fear the last six weeks of 2014; [Gov.] Snyder will sign any bill he receives, whether or not he remains in power.
Today I heard news from Michigan Radio indicating my friend's prediction is likely correct.

After the last election, in which Obama took all 16 of Michigan's Electoral votes, the GOP in the state started pushing the idea that Electoral College votes should be decided by Congressional District, rather than winner-take-all at the state level. It sounds fair, but the GOP has so gerrymandered the state that in 2012 Romney would have gotten at least 3 more votes than a proportional split of all votes cast for president would have given him (and, of course, 9 more votes than Romney got under winner-take-all).

Michigan Radio reports that idea is again circulating around Lansing. Again, Dems are crying foul. Various news reports also list other issues that will be deferred to the lame-duck session. Alas, this bit is news and not a story, so it isn't posted to the Michigan Radio website.

My friend has solid history on which to base his prediction. In the last lame-duck session the GOP pushed through a slew of new laws, including the (misnamed) Right-to-Work law. Once the election is over with the GOP is beholden to nobody but their corporate masters. So many of them are term-limited that they won't be back for another term to face voters again. These are headed to lobbying positions supplied by those corporate masters. Many other legislators trust their voters like enough of their shenanigans they'll forget the worst stuff.

So, how do we go about getting rid of the lame-duck session? How do we prevent the legislature from meeting in November and December? Or how do we immediately put the newly elected politicians into office? We face a situation in which the legislature has become completely separated from voters.

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