Assaulting Democracy

The warning signs are everywhere.

Governing Magazine has added to the evidence that America is losing even the pretense of democracy.

In the first several years after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped states make more low-income people eligible for Medicaid, it was only Democratic-led states that took the federal government up on its offer. Republicans have since warmed to the idea — but only on their own terms, and sometimes even if it means going against voters’ wishes…..

While some Republicans in Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming are exploring the possibility of Medicaid expansion in their states, Idaho and Utah are undoing ballot measures that voters passed in November to expand Medicaid.

In Utah, the Republican governor responded to the success of a ballot initiative expanding Medicaid by signing a bill that would only cover people earning up to the federal poverty line; it would also cap enrollment if costs exceed what’s expected.

But the terms of the ballot measure, which passed with 53 percent of the vote, were to expand Medicaid eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

Utah has to get federal approval of this law, and similar measures were not approved during the Obama administration. The Trump Administration, of course, is hostile to pretty much everything the federal government does, so it might very well allow what is a clear repudiation of the will of the voters in Utah.

It isn’t only Utah.

Idaho is also eyeing a rollback of its citizen-led Medicaid expansion ballot measure. The initiative won handily, with 61 percent of the vote….But legislation to void the initiative is currently making its way through the Idaho statehouse.

And many of you will recall that in 2016, Maine voters approved Medicaid expansion, but the state’s certifiable nut-case then-governor, Paul LePage, prevented it from taking effect.

Whatever one’s position on Medicaid expansion, these are truly breathtaking examples of legislative and administrative chutzpah. The citizens of these states voted on an issue before them; in essence, they gave instructions to the people who are presumably in office to represent them. And those people simply ignored them.

This is not unlike Trump’s decision to declare an “emergency” that would allow him to defy a Congressional vote. Even if a member of Congress believes the wall should be built, he or she should be appalled by a Presidential action that strikes at the very heart of the Constitution’s separation of powers. It ignores as irrelevant the constitutional provision that vests decisions about spending in Congress, a provision that–before now–has constrained lawmakers and administrators alike.

Congress said no. That should have been the end of it. The President’s “emergency” is not only bogus, it ignores the clear division of authority mandated by the nation’s charter.

Yet every single Indiana Republican Representative voted against the House Resolution to reverse that dangerous attack on a fundamental element of American governance, placing the interests of their political party above both the good of the country and fidelity to their oaths of office.

Without the rule of law–without lawmakers and public officials who are willing to accept the decisions of voters whether they like those decisions or not; without lawmakers who are willing to insist upon compliance with the Constitution even when it is their party that is breaking the rules–we don’t have a democracy or a republic or even a legitimate government.

We have a banana republic.


  1. Still, the voters won’t turn those ne’er do wells out of office. What message does that send?

  2. Most of the writers on this blog have been saying over and over again that Republicanism is the bane of our existence as a society. They abhor anything good or fair for the middle classes and the poor. They turn their phony Christian backs on those who struggle the most. Yes, why do they keep getting elected? Who keeps electing them?

    Those people in the midwest who are struggling to have a decent life are being screwed by Republicanism, yet continue to be red states. Why is that? Why do the embrace those who are ignoring their needs while pandering to their votes. Ah. That’s it. Perhaps the Democrats have given up on those people in “fly-over” country. It seems to me that the kitchen table issues that Republicans give only lip service to are the same ones that Democrats actually act on. Hmmm.

    The assault on democracy is clearly coming from Republicans. Ever since Lincoln was shot these corrupt fools have pandered to the rich, the bankers and the corporations who keep paying them off. Overturning Citizens United would be a great start to taking our nation back to the halcyon days of equity, voter’s voices and fairness. Gosh it might even allow us to save our environment from the capitalistic rapists who will kill everything and anything for more profits, the air and water be damned.

  3. We haven’t had a democracy for years. It has been an Oligarchy for decades and quite possibly from the beginning. However, in the last thirty years we all recognize that those with wealth have managed to accumulate more wealth and power over the rest of the population.

    If we could somehow create a legal requirement that all who run for office must first pass an extensive test on knowledge of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then if elected they must swear to always obey those documents or risk being immediately removed from office and even fined, maybe we could actually turn this country back around to acting more like a democracy for all of the people and not just for the 1%.

  4. “Assaulting Democracy” Why does this Congress appear not to know if Donald Trump has the authority to order Jared Kuchner be given full security clearance? If Gen. Kelly wrote a memo stating that fact; why was Congress not made aware of it? Or did they know and ignore it as they ignore Trump’s rampant tyranny over minorities and all low-income Americans while cutting taxes of the wealthy? Why does Congress appear to be ignorant, yes ignorant, of whether any president has the authority to declare a national emergency pertaining only to his personal demands or whether he has the authority to pardon himself or not? The blind obedience and support of Trump along with his unleashed spending of millions for personal pleasure, supporting his appointments of unqualified department heads – then changing them at random – not stepping in when he removes this government from protective pacts with our allies while supporting our enemies are all Assaults on Democracy, Rule of Law, the Constitution, America and all Americans.

    The unlimited abuses of their authority over President Obama and making their own decisions as to which of their Constitutional responsibilities they opt to carry out (McConnell’s refusal to hold hearings on President Obama’s appointees for one); are all Assaults on Democracy.

    The public outcry by Republicans accusing Michael Cohen of lying during his public hearing on Wednesday is calling attention to the statements he made regarding additional criminal activities carried out and continuing by Trump. The accusation of racism is one well documented during Trump’s rallies; the fact that he is a cheat and a thief has been in the news for 40 years or more; well known by the Republican party which bypassed 16 viable presidential nominees and forcing Trump as their choice. Did they believe they could control him, thereby controlling the country, if he were elected? They have openly reveled in his deplorable actions and unless McConnell can be ousted, the Senate will maintain control of this country and continue allowing Trump’s to run rampant over democracy till it is tramples into the mire of the Washington, D.C. swamp.

    “We have a banana republic.”

    Yes; we are currently a “banana republic” heading to become one of those “shit hole” countries Trump refused disaster help to, some of therm here in the United States and our territories. Who will provide disaster help to this country?

  5. The Republican Party as a whole and some Democrats oppose Medicare For All – Single Payer- Universal Health Care, which would solve the problem of Medicaid expansion.

    Republicans use every trick they can think of to sabotage health care in the USA and keep health care under the thumb of the for profit corporate industry. Red tape, confusion are among the tactics used to deny eligible people from Medicaid.

    Even if a clear majority of voters decide to approve a referendum, gerrymandering makes it possible to defeat the majority.

  6. I think a comment this week by Michael Cohen is true and says it all, if Trump loses in 2020, the transition to the new administration will not go well. He won’t leave. You watch, the Republican’s will be behind him claiming voter fraud and Jesus’ will, etc. Just as the blog today intimates, they are no longer a party, but an authoritarian regime intent on running the country to their own satisfaction, democracy and the constitution be damned. I submit their apparently limitless disregard for norms as evidence. The Constitution is only as good as the people who hold it in their hands. Folks, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but we’re in deep deep trouble.

  7. This is the party of small government and hands off government. The hypocrisy is breath-taking,

  8. Agree with many of the observations above. I’m just a moderate but I’m now treated as an extremist by my family – my sins were 1/being gay, and 2/not viewing profit as paramount to all other things. The 2nd was probably more damning.

    I strongly, strongly encourage progressives to research and buy a handgun or a personal protection device of their own comfort level. I’m very serious. We can’t bemoan our fate and not expect to defend ourselves if needed. If things continue to spiral down, conservatives have one thing right – they’ll suddenly and finally restrict the ability to buy such things. The irony will be that they’ll be the ones to do it.

    I’m sorry to be so grim. This is a reality that needs to be faced.

  9. sprial down, its been a downhill slide for 40 years. i agree with everyone here,but if you dont walk the street as i do around the country,you are seeing the same concrete. i look like a trumper,accepeted by sight by bubba,and the mix. drink beer,BBq,and hangin at the local cafe. its what i can do,but,even the hint of conversations in some places around the country can open a can of worms, if you feel defense is a issue,get a training,and make sure your trainer isnt a trumper. though they may laugh at the idea,and why,ill be frank,i drive a truck, and i dont mince words,some of these trumpers will,and have, tried me with their vehicles on the highway. all it takes is a Bernie bumper sticker,and the fights on. defense,sure call a cop,that doesnt exist,,tax cuts,wheres law enforcement?,there is none. and thats a big part of the issue.states see the cop as a cost of operation,the people are now on thier own. ever wonder why states pass such meager laws regarding guns,the above is a reason why. yes,the right side is gearing up,they,though simple,in task,buy guns ,and wear them visibly. its a first step to a society that will eventually have a problem. then the ones on the right will find out,how a goverment will,eventually suppress their desire for guns,when and after,they started their defense of so called freedom.. and take those guns and rights. we in NoDak are getting a state holiday,paitriots day! seems some local rep read some early u.s. history to their grandkids,(NPR) and had a hell of a idea,since kids have little knowlege of the so called patriot,why not have a special holiday! i guess we have failed in teaching history and civics,and thats why we are what we are today… sounds more llike aploy to recruit for the military,and push the rights agenda..

  10. Robb – is it safe to assume that your family members consider themselves to also be “good Christians”?

  11. Nancy, yes, they do.

    Two Easter’s ago, at our annual lunch, my father asked my husband (who works at the county hospital) where to best shoot someone to kill them.

    While this wasn’t a veiled threat – I know my dad – still, this is the same man who couldn’t bear to shoot a raccoon on our farm just 20 years ago.

    I don’t understand evil, I don’t understand what’s happened, but it’s here.

  12. And I supppse I should clarify, in the past 10 years both my mother and father now carry guns. This was at the encouragement of my brother who married an Evangelical of some sort, from Anderson. FOX News is on at my parents’ house throughout the day.

    It wasn’t like this at all when I grew up. None of us cared about guns. There was 1 rifle, and 1 BB gun, hanging above the freezer in the mud room, and all they really caught was dust.

  13. Beyond the usual recreational-outrage expressed on this forum (and often rightly so),the real crime is the Obama administration was too lazy,weak and way too beholden to the insurance and pharma industries to enact a real healthcare program. Instead,they brought forth a crappy and weak program–a genuine Republican program. And,some folks wonder why so many no longer vote? No longer will support an ineffective Democratic Party?

    Pelosi has offered to take a weakened stand (Oh Boy,a PANEL) against BIG PHARMA(over drug prices)–a stand that has no legislative and subpoena power.Another worthless action by the Democrats. Why are the Democrats so scared to govern appropriately?

    BIG DONOR money. That’s why. They’re worse than Republicans. Republicans are open about their contempt for the 90%. Democrats “pretend” to care about the 90%. Enacting RomneyCare and pretending that RomneyCare was/is the answer to the healthcare problems in the USA proves in a tangible manner as to how lazy,out of touch, worthless and incompetent the Democrats have become.

    The message; If you want to pass Republican policies without much outrage,elect a Democrat.

  14. There are a couple of growing problems that are clues to the Republican’s plans for the future of the country: climate change and health care. Both are existential in terms of manintaining the country anywhere near what we are used to. Both get worse every day. Both have well established actions necessary to mitigate. In both cases Republicans not only ignore but deny them.

    The oligarchy is harvesting the country. The end game? Sheila put it very descriptively. A banana republic. That’s the oligarch’s goal and they own a party to bring it about.

    It’s us vs them.

  15. “It’s us or them.”

    That is correct. Speaking of which,Google the following:

    Pfizer Executive Hosting 2020 Fundraiser For Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

    To the chagrin of the party apparatchiks among the forum….

    It’s not just Republicanism that is a danger to everyone. To believe that is choosing to ignore fact. If it really comes down to us or them…..We must not be accepting of the enablers on our side. Gillibrand is a Vichy-Democrat. Or,has the entire party become an entire Vichy enterprise? If we must support Vichy-Democrats,we have already lost.

  16. “…without lawmakers and public officials who are willing to accept the decisions of voters whether they like those decisions or not…we don’t have a democracy or a republic or even a legitimate government.”

    I fear the GOP base is just fine with acting in opposition to the expressed will of the voters as well. This could prove problematic if trump loses the election next year.

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