Good Government

Republican, not Democratic

Michigan strengthens the Emergency Financial Manager law, giving the EFM authority to dissolve local elected officials, both school boards and city councils and mayors. These expanded powers are specifically requested by the Governor and approved by both houses of the legislature.

Michigan legislature meets behind closed doors to draw up a redistricting map, then schedules it for passage within a two-week schedule. This leaves no time for any modifications or corrections that may come from public review and hearings. They include a special provision in the legislation that prevents the bill from being overturned by popular referendum.

Michigan’s governor presses the legislature to pass its budget as quickly as possible. Wisconsin’s governor invokes special emergency legislation to deal with its budget. Time is of the essence, so there is little time for careful consideration of the impact or for review and input from those who are affected.

A presidential election is "too close to call". The losing candidate demands that the votes be counted. The winning candidate objects to actually counting the ballots, stages "riots" that threaten the vote counters, and appeals to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court orders the counting to stop, allowing the winner to be declared by the local authority, a member of the winning candidate’s election team. The Supreme Court also declares that its decision must not be referenced as a precedent in any subsequent case.

Bills are under consideration to solve the problem of voter fraud by requiring special forms of identification at the voting booth. Government-issued identification, such as driver’s licenses and concealed weapons permits, are required, although government-issued college identification is not permitted.

New legislation is routinely introduced with a provision that prohibits judicial review of the legislation.

There’s a common thread running through these stories, which reach over a 10-year period. That common thread is opposition to the core tenet of democracy — giving a voice to the people who are being governed.

Democracy is a terrible way to run a government. It’s slow. It’s unruly. It forces people to compromise with opponents, and to explain and defend decisions.

That’s no way to run a business. In these modern times, a modern corporation must be agile, fleet of foot, able to react quickly to threats and opportunities. A modern corporation doesn’t put its decisions before all of the employees for their approval. Nor does it try to satisfy the needs of every employee. The modern corporation acts, and acts quickly. The modern CEO must be able to decide what must be done, and then make it happen.

Good for business. Not good for government. Not democracy.

We are in a new era of government, one in which democracy must — if necessary — take a back seat to solving the crisis we face. In this era, we must trust that the people we’ve elected are clear-eyed and well-intentioned, that they have a full command and understanding of the situtation and that they will make decisions that are good for us.

That’s not democratic. And it’s not Democratic. But it is certainly the new Republican.

The Republican party in Congress is marked by the ability to march in lock-step to a single point of view. Republican members of the Senate have become famous for their ability to stop legislative action while being a minority party. Republican members of the House turn to their leadership to learn how they must vote. These members are coordinated from the top of the party, and vote as directed, irrespective of their personal views and opinions.

The Democratic party is marked by the inability to enforce this kind of rigid discipline. By contrast, the Democratic members are always bickering among themselves, and the party leaders struggle to gather sufficient votes to move the leadership’s programs forward.

Democracy is messy. It’s unruly. It lacks discipline.

It’s the worst form of government, as Churchill said, except for all the others.

Of course, you don’t end democracy by having a vote. A vote would be democratic. You end democracy by simply ending it. By replacing it with something else.

Perhaps democracy has outlived its usefulness. Perhaps we are in a continuing state of crisis where democracy is the problem and not the solution. Perhaps we need to consider some other form of government — government by the enlightened experts, for example.

The Republicans are doing their best to let us see what that is like.


One reply on “Republican, not Democratic”

Wisconsin requires a government-issued ID in order to vote. A “vote-only ID” is available from the DMV, for a fee of $28 — unless you ask for it for free, in which case it is free.
But: an official memo instructs the DMV staff that they are not to tell anyone about the free ID. If you ask for it, okay; but if you don’t know that it can be free, then they won’t tell you.
So far, over 18,000 have been issued, and only 59% of these were issued free.
How many would have chosen not to get the ID because of the cost? And who would that be — certainly the unemployed, the underemployed, the poor, the elderly on limited income, students also on limited income ….
Keeping democracy a secret is hardly democratic.

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