Re-Making the Rules
The Republican Party in Pennsylvania is on the march. With fearful perseverance they are grabbing territory in every direction. They are grabbing your rights, and your treasure, while taking public positions that imply they are protecting you from tyranny. Here are a few examples:
After the R's created their Photo ID requirement, thousands of Pennsylvania citizens had to seek a Supreme Court decision to be able to vote.
Last year the Republicans passed a bill stripping community control from "fracking" sites and forbidding medical doctors to blow the whistle if they diagnosed illness resulting from fracking operations. That bill also had to have Supreme Court intervention to return local control to the communities that are guaranteed that right by the constitution of the Commonwealth. Apparently, Republican constitutional lawyers are not in great supply.
Only a few weeks ago, news emerged that, without hearings, and without consideration of legislative alternatives, Governor Corbett announced plans to out-source the state lottery. He followed that announcement by extending time and treasure to bring a huge suit against the NCAA for punishing Penn State “unfairly”.
Speaking of treasure, Pennsylvania colleges, and all human services, including those to veterans and the homeless, have been stripped to the bone in the name of fiscal conservatism, while legislators freely fleece us of thousands of dollars for "expenses". They get reimbursements just for being politicians, apparently, as no real case can be made for what they are requesting and none is required.
The party of "less government" is taking on real meaning as the party of "Use Government". Republicans want to demonstrate how to use government to keep political power and to keep government on the payoff side of certain big industries. Use government to seize any advantage. Forget the issues! Forget that the purpose of politics is to negotiate differences in pursuit of the best result for the most people. The “Use Government” party wants to create legal fissures that will isolate Republican power from any challenge by the people.
The just introduced House Bill 94 seeks to take "majority rule" away from presidential elections in Pennsylvania. HB 94 proposes to award votes to the Electoral College by district, rather than by the state total of the popular vote. In this system, President Obama, with 52% of the popular vote in Pa, would have lost almost half of our Electoral College votes to Governor Romney. Is this okay?
Yes, if you think gerrymandered districts owned by the Republicans are equal to districts with thousands of voters voting a different ticket. Yes, if you think that the party that lost the election gets to change the rules any way they can in order to gain the upper hand. Yes, if you think that the election of a president should only reflect party unity, not American unity.
What is most astonishing about all this is the arrogance of a group that really seems to believe that they will be " in power" forever. Republicans seem to think that by making it very difficult for certain groups to vote, or even be represented, Republicans can't lose. They think they can use legislation to make political lions cheerfully cede territory to leadership mice.
They seem not to be worried about voters getting wise to their schemes. Good luck with that. Inclusion, local control and majority rule are important values that won’t be surrendered easily.
Voters do get wise and when they figure things out, holding the Republicans accountable is a real possibility.
Ann Melby Shenkle
January 22, 2013