Andy Beshear’s first actions as governor have reinforced the strong policy and character traits that he showed as a candidate. They also revealed that he is not looking to his next election to steer his administration. They showed he has political courage.
Every newly-elected governor or president uses executive powers to change policies to reflect their priorities, often unraveling the policies of their predecessor.
These early decisions are bellwethers for what we can expect from our new leaders.
President Trump’s unraveling of Barrack Obama’s policies have reinforced for us who he is — a first-rate, vindictive asshole. Trump immediately delivered on campaign promises to halt the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement and Iran nuclear deal and attack Obamacare. Trump is shredding years of environmental protection policies and allowing more junk food in school meals — just to spite the “libs.”
Gov. Matt Bevin’s work to unravel has been the same as his orange idol’s: spiteful, vindictive and partisan.
Bevin repealed the order of Gov. Steve Beshear (Andy’s dad) that restored voting rights to former felons. He pulled the plug on Kynect, Kentucky’s award-winning healthcare marketplace exchange and attempted to enforce work requirements on some Medicaid recipients.
Through executive order, Bevin would have immediately repealed all of Medicaid expansion if courts had not struck down his work requirement policy, which would have led to half a million Kentuckians losing their health coverage.
Bevin broke the law in his attempts to unilaterally cut funding to state universities. He tried to close health clinics that provide abortion services, but the courts have frustrated those efforts. He is why Kentucky is late in offering real ID licenses.
So, what do the actions of Gov. Beshear The Second say?
Kentucky voters — We made the right decision.
Beshear rescinded Bevin’s Medicaid work requirement waiver.
Beshear unraveled Bevin’s Board of Education, which led to the expulsion of the state education commissioner who was bent on waging war with Jefferson County Public Schools and pushing charter schools. I wish he hadn’t replaced the board with only Democrats, but overhauling the board was necessary if he wants to champion Kentucky public schools.
From the big to the little — he reappointed Alston Kerr as chair of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, who Bevin removed in 2016 along with Jane Beshear (Andy’s mom).
Beshear terminated several of Bevin’s open-records lawsuits, an effort to restore basic government transparency and end a hot war with The Courier Journal and Louisville Public Media. Beshear, unlike Bevin, does not subject us to a barrage of tweet tirades and narcissistic ramblings.
And, thanks to Beshear, Kentucky finally moves forward with the real ID driver’s license, bringing the state in compliance with federal law (So we Kentuckians can fly domestically without needing a passport).
Beshear’s unraveling of Bevin’s policies deliver on campaign promises and certainly are good for Kentuckians. These policies show Beshear to be a pragmatic leader with the temperament to represent all Kentuckians.
One unraveling demonstrates Beshear’s political courage.
Acting Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander, notified Planned Parenthood that it is free to seek a license to provide abortion services, and the Bevin administration’s lawsuit against it would be dropped. This was the right thing to do: It’s good for Kentucky women, it upholds state laws regulating health facilities and keeps taxpayers from footing unnecessary attorney’s bills.
Beshear didn’t have to do it.
The safe political strategy in the socially-conservative home of Kim Davis and The Ark Park would have been to let the lawsuit reach its legal conclusion so he could safely point the finger at the courts.
Instead, Beshear stood up for women.
Abortion more than any other issue is what core Republican voters in Kentucky will hold onto for four years. More so than any environmental regulations or taxes, abortion is the top issue for core GOP voters. And if Beshear’s victory in 2019 is an indication of his chances for reelection, he is going to need a few of those Republicans again in four years.
Perhaps Beshear will be the Kentucky Democrat who proves that voters respect a politician who stands up for what they believe in and not what they think voters want to hear — which would be a great lesson for a certain candidate running for U.S. Senate. •