A hallmark of the modern Republican Party is: If you can’t beat ‘em, change the rules… and then beat ‘em.
Coal is not the energy of the future. But the Kentucky GOP appears determined to keep it on life support as long as possible. Last week, that Grand Ol’ Practice of rule changing was on prominent display by House Republicans as they added two Republicans and one coal-country Democrat to a committee to ensure passage of an anti-solar energy bill.
The GOP-sponsored bill would cut the rate that solar panel users are compensated when they provide energy to the electric grid, drastically changing the financial viability of the solar industry in Kentucky. At the very least, it’s a disincentive to growing solar power.
One can debate the merits of the bill, but what’s worse is how Republicans blithely changed the rules to make sure the bill passed.
Louisville Democrat state Rep. Jim Wayne said of the vote-packing, “Democracy dies in several ways.” He’s right, and this is just one example.
The Republican view of democracy is not majority rule or consensus building. And you can forget about listening to the voices of the minority. Republicans view democracy as a means of absorbing and preserving power, even if that means changing the rules.
Conservative columnist David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, was recently in Louisville for the Kentucky Author Forum. When asked how we in the opposition should focus our resistance energy — do we lose our minds about everything or focus on particular issues or controversies — he offered a profound perspective: There are two categories of opposition: issues that create disagreement and debate, and attacks on our institutions… and it’s important that we consider which type of offense when losing our minds.
A disagreement over issue or policy is fair, but changing the rules to impose your will is an attack on our government institutions.
We’ve been living under the reign of Chancellor Bevin, who has made it common practice to sacrifice rules to impose his will. For example, he dismantled several state boards, replacing them with his own appointees. When this move ended up in court, Republican lawmakers changed the law to make it legal. That’s changing the rules, in order to get your way.
In the most recent example, Bevin issued an executive order that will eliminate Medicaid expansion if a court rejects his work-for-care policy — a move that would rip healthcare out from underneath 500,000 Kentuckians.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has been redefining the rules of the game for years, most recently to obstruct President Obama. At the annual Lincoln Day Republican Dinner, Mitch bragged about it, saying, “The single most consequential decision I’ve made in my political life is a decision not to do something.”
He also said, “The other decision I made not to do something last year was not to do many lifetime appointments in the last two years of Barack Obama. I decided six years was long enough.” Changing the rules, more like rewriting his oath of office — to support and defend the Constitution — because framers believed that the Constitution was more of guideline.
Beyond Kentucky’s borders, the GOP has been running a concerted effort to create obstacles for minorities (read: Democrats) who want to vote. They have gerrymandered congressional and state districts in ways that maximize Republican seats, although several of those are now being struck-down by courts across the country. They’re pushing voter ID laws and clearing voter rolls, all to keep Democrats — primarily minorities and the poor — from voting.
…Because they can’t win when people turnout to vote.
The GOP solar bill is undoubtedly bad, backwards policy. Kentucky should be incentivizing green, future energy sources, cultivating those jobs and industries.
Instead, the GOP is pandering to its base and, undoubtedly, repaying its big-coal donors. While the rest of the world is catching solar power’s economic-wave, this bill runs Kentucky aground. In 2016 alone, one out of every 50 jobs created, was solar related, totaling 73,000 new solar jobs — a 25-percent increase in the industry.
This solar bill should be met with opposition, along with countless other awful policies. But the outrage should be over Republicans blatantly remaking democratic systems to ensure they get their way.