Democratic theory is actually pretty simple; voting is a substitute for physical struggles for power, but it only works when the fight is fair. The loser in any election abides by the decision because the winner abides by the rules.
What we are seeing now is a situation where the losers refuse to play by the rules.
In Washington, the GOP’s antics have been the equivalent of a big “screw you.” The party has said, in effect, “we don’t care that the people voted for this President, despite our best efforts to keep his supporters from the polls. We are taking our ball and bat and going home–we are refusing to play the game.” In this case, of course, the “game” is governing the nation, and their childish behavior has made that nearly impossible.
In Indiana, where the Republicans won almost every office, they are determined to strip the one Democrat who did manage to win office of the authority to do her job.
Most recently, in yet another in a series of power grabs, the State Board of Education voted (8 to 1, with Glenda Ritz being the 1) to authorize Dan Elsener to spend money from the Board’s budget and work with the Governor’s office to hire the Board’s staff. According to several people, despite the fact that the Superintendent has often come from a different political party than the Governor, this is the first time in Indiana history that money budgeted for the State Board will not be controlled by the Department of Education.
As one observer wrote, “Obviously, a State Board with its own staff using a budget of $3,010,716 each year could become a power center independent of the State Superintendent and the Department of Education. Apparently, the Governor has quietly put this seismic shift into motion.”
Ever since the voters elected Glenda Ritz (by a margin exceeding that of Governor Pence, it might be noted), the administration and the Republicans have worked to overturn the results by reducing the powers of the office.
Like the current Superintendent or not, this is most definitely not the way the system is supposed to work. The message being sent is clear: we’ll respect election results and the democratic process when we win.
When we lose, we’ll play dirty.