Elections have consequences. When Wisconsin voters went to the polls last month, they made a clear choice to reject the slash-and-burn politics of Gov. Scott Walker in favor of Tony Evers. They voted for a democratic agenda to provide the people of Wisconsin with access to affordable health care, high-quality public education, cleaner air and water, and better roads and bridges. They voted for a brighter future for themselves and their communities.
They didn’t vote for a bald-faced, last-minute, under-cover-of-darkness power grab by the Republican Legislature to get its legislative licks in before Gov.-elect Evers takes office on Jan. 7. They didn’t vote so that Republicans could ignore the will of the people and take a page out of an authoritarian playbook that aims to install the political ideas of one party before the election results go into effect.
On Nov. 6, voters around the country elected problem-solvers who offered real plans to help regular people improve their lives. And instead of respecting that choice, Republicans in Wisconsin are trying to ram through a political agenda that includes limiting the power of the new Democratic governor, changing Wisconsin’s election dates to stack the deck in their party’s favor, and preventing the incoming governor from withdrawing from a lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act. The people of Wisconsin don’t want this. They didn’t vote for it, and their elected representatives should take responsibility for this gross display of partisan political warfare that puts our health care and our public schools at risk.
Now that Wisconsin’s top elected official will be a Democrat, the sour-grapes Republicans want to limit the power of the governor and state attorney general, including restricting how the governor runs public benefit programs and giving the Legislature more authority over state agencies. But let’s put the political shoe on the other foot. If Republicans ever win back the governor’s seat, will they overturn this watered-down job description? The hypocrisy is almost too much to stomach. In a democracy, you don’t get to change the rules every time you lose an election.
Democrats won every statewide office in Wisconsin because voters had had enough of Scott Walker’s assault on working families: driving up health care costs so one illness or injury could bankrupt families, squeezing the middle class in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy, turning his back on Wisconsin’s kids and teachers, and refusing to invest in the public services and infrastructure that makes this state a good place to live.
But this lame-duck session makes a mockery of the election and turns the legislative process into a blood sport, even though voters say time and again that they’re sick of these divisive political games. The Republicans are not only looking to consolidate their power but are rushing to do this in the most undemocratic manner. The eleventh-hour lame-duck measures are an affront to the will of the people. We see you, Republicans.
Kim Kohlass is president of AFT-Wisconsin. Candice Owley is president of Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals.
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.