‘A right to rule’: Here are 4 states where Republicans went full-on authoritarian after the 2018 midterm elections

‘A right to rule’: Here are 4 states where Republicans went full-on authoritarian after the 2018 midterm elections

MSNBC’s Joy Reid slammed the authoritarian nature of the modern-day GOP when, on the December 16 segment of her Sunday-morning program “AM Joy,” she asserted that Republicans believe they have “a right to rule.” Reflecting on unethical GOP post-midterms power grabs in Wisconsin and Michigan, Reid commented on Republicans’ refusal to accept the election results—and just as she said, many Republicans of 2018 are demonstrating that they respect neither the rule of law nor the United States’ system of checks and balances. 

Here are four states where Republicans have been refusing to accept democracy this election year and behaved in a decidedly authoritarian fashion.

1. Wisconsin

Democrats enjoyed some key victories in Wisconsin on November 6. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was reelected, defeating Republican Leah Vukmir—and Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin State Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans, were voted out of office. Clearly, former President Barack Obama’s aggressive campaigning on behalf of Baldwin and Democratic Gov.-Elect Tony Evers paid off. But Walker and Republicans in Wisconsin’s state legislature have, in effect, refused to accept the fact that voters preferred Evers and passed legislation that weakens his gubernatorial powers.

The legislation, for one thing, prevents Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from the GOP’s federal lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. Baldwin and Evers campaigned forcefully on protecting the ACA, and most Wisconsin voters agreed with them. But Walker and Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, could care less. And one of Vos’ recent comments speaks volumes about his mentality: “If you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority.” 

Translation: only white rural voters count, in Vos’ mind.  

2. Michigan

In Michigan’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigned for Abdul El-Sayed—who, like himself, is a hardcore New Deal/Great Society liberal/progressive. But when centrist Democrat Gretchen Wilmer defeated El-Sayed by 22%, Sanders endorsed Wilmer—and she went on to defeat Republican Bill Schuette in the general election. Other Democrats who will be taking office in Michigan in January include Dana Nessel (elected state attorney general) and Jocelyn Benson (elected Michigan’s secretary of state).

But Republicans in Michigan’s state legislature have, in essence, refused to accept the fact that Wilmer, Nessel and Benson won and are attempting a power grab not unlike the one in Wisconsin. Republicans are trying to limit their power to govern on everything from paid sick leave to a minimum wage hike.

3. North Carolina

Republicans have been trying to suppress non-white voters all over the United States, falsely claiming that voter fraud is rampant. But when it comes to real-life election fraud—not the voter fraud of Republican fantasies—the most egregious example of 2018 might be in North Carolina, where Democrat Dan McCready conceded to Republican Mark Harris in the 2018 U.S. House race in the 9th Congressional District. But McCready withdrew his concession after learning that sleazy political operative and convicted felon Leslie McCrae Dowless (who Harris hired for get-out-the-vote efforts) is suspected of election fraud and tampering with absentee ballots. Harris kept some very bad company in the 2018 midterms: back in 1992, Dowless was convicted of fraud for taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting almost $165,000 from his death (Dowless was sentenced to two years in prison but released after six months).

4. Georgia

In 2018, GOP gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp behaved like a politician in a corrupt banana republic when he carried out a ruthless voter suppression campaign aimed primarily at heavily black, Democrat-leaning areas—the areas where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams just happened to be enjoying the strongest support. The fact that Kemp stayed on as Georgia’s secretary of state while running for governor and was allowed to decide who did or didn’t get to vote was an egregious conflict of interest—he should have resigned from his secretary of state position, and Georgia Republicans would have demanded that he do so if they had any integrity. 

Georgia’s gubernatorial race was close, and Kemp won about 2%—or so it seems. Had Kemp not abused his power as secretary of state and run such a sleazy voter suppression campaign aimed primarily at African-Americans, it’s quite possible that Abrams would have won.

The ghosts of Bull Connor and Lester Maddox were alive and well in Kemp’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Or, to quote the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Jim Crow would blush” over the things that Kemp got away with in Georgia this year.

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