This usurpation of voters choices for elected office is taking place in all Republican dominated state governments. Republicans are trying to add to the powers they put in place to limit or discourage voter participation by short circuiting officials voters other than Republicans have put in office by removing them from office with made up charges or excuses or short ciruiting their ability to perform official duties.
Florida’s DeSantis led the charge in taking his state towards its descent into fascism. He removed a Tampa area prosecutor who didn’t fully embrace his bullying tactics at members of the LGBTQ community by alleging Andrew Warren had blanket policies not to prosecute certain kinds of cases. The federal judge ruling on Warren’s dismisal stated categorically that allegation was false but he also declared ‘the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a federal court from awarding declaratory or injunctive relief of the kind at issue against a state official based only on a violation of state law’. With that victory in hand for now DeSantis has set his sights on State Attorney Monique Worrell because of her handling of a case. The particulars aren’t important, the idea is DeSantis can go after anyone within his reach and for any reason and doing so establishes his bona fides as the non-woke, hard nosed, more attractive and polished MAGA candidate for the Republican party.
Florida isn’t the only state that’s decided to circumvent its voters choices to run constituent business. Mississippi has decided to go around an entire administration of its capital city and replace it with governor Tate Reeves’ own Capital Police Force that has been given the expanded responsibility of policing neighborhoods in Jackson. That police force has been accused of excessive brutality towards black citizens of Jackson while patrolling the streets in and around government buildings. Along with this special group of police the GOP run Mississippi state government has also put in place an extra judiciary arm of judges super imposed over the city’s court system designed to adjudicate cases that would give the GOP ability to determine outcomes. All of these reaches from the halls of state government into city government have placed at the disposal some of the city’s financial resources that Jackson has received from the federal government, like the nearly $800 million in federal and other aid Jackson city Mayor Lumumba secured to fix the dilapidated water system the city has been suffering with for almost a century. These changes to the structure of a city that is 80% black and done by a super majority of GOP politicians of the state’s legislature have been done without input from or the ability of the elected officials of Jackson to change. They have simply been presented to them as the way things will be.
For now perhaps the most popular example of the GOP subversion of democratic processes is what happened in Tennessee with the Tennessee Three. The three state legislators were considered for expulsion from the Tennessee state legislature because of their action depicted in the photo below but just a brief history of what goes on in the legislature, as shown in the following video, clearly reveals Tennessee has a Republican majority not interested in following the rules, even those they propose or use.
Recognize any faces in the piece? Is it any wonder the three legislators took to the well of the House with a bullhorn to raise their voices after so many times having their voices ignored or not listened to during the course of conducting state business the ‘correct’ way? An even more blatant sign of the state of democracy in Tennessee is that while three legislators were threatened with expulsion, only two of them, Jones and Pearson were actually expelled. Their expulsion wasn’t based on their adoption of some excessive progressive agenda, antithetical policy foreign to their constituents. Rather theirs was a locally supported and embraced set of goals designed to enhance participation in the political process for all citizens of the state with their last stated goal being to enact some form of common sense gun legislation following the mass shooting and murder of students and staff at a local private school. That type of activism is not acceptable to a majority GOP legislature that only sees the imposition of unpopular policies as the way to success in participatory democracy. The state of Tennessee has threatened to withhold money appropriated to those municipalities that consider returning those expelled lawmakers to office.
Finally these are not the only examples of an out of control Republican party with fascist tendencies to spread policies that are directly opposed by a majority of the constituents of the state. Super majority legislatures are possible because of gerrymandering, the act of drawing voting districts that dilute the effectiveness of non Republican precincts and increase the number of GOP candidates elected to office even while they are a minority within a state’s population. One of the most egregious legacies of the Trump term was its abuse of 2020 census data released by the federal govt as well as a Supreme Court 2019 decision that said gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court. With no threat to the way voting maps are drawn to increase their presence in state legislatures, Republicans have the ability to act without any regard to what the people of their states want. By electing officials to state office, the Republican party is able to form policy that suits the needs of party officials and lobbyists who support them financially but which are at the same time not in the best interest of the people of the state.