Talking sports with my dad over Thanksgiving weekend, he remarked that he’s not rooting against anyone any longer. While he still has his favorite teams and players, he realized he wasn’t rooting against anyone. He surmised this was the result of individually and collectively as a country, enduring so much hatred and division over the last year — or four — that he’s just over it.
Well, apparently the Kentucky Republican Party is not over it. It has plenty of animosity remaining for Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and, unfortunately, division politics is its only outlet. It shows in their legislative agenda, which does not address stopping or slowing the virus; it’s not helping people overcome or cope with the destruction; rather, it’s pulling themselves up by tearing Beshear down.
The week before Thanksgiving, Republican Speaker of the House David Osborne announced that Republicans have a working group committed to crafting and passing a bill to rein in Beshear’s emergency powers — possibly within the first week of a short, 30-day legislative session.
Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature, and their top legislative agenda is curtailing the emergency powers of the Democratic governor during a global health crisis? Other priorities mentioned include passing a one-year budget — which they are required to do — and expanding liability protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
That’s it? That’s what you have planned for your super-duper majority? It’s hard to imagine a more pathetic, yet dangerous, effort to assert one’s relevancy. (But, big wheels and big guns are compensating for something, right?)
Beshear has faced attacks, complaints and legal challenges from elected Republicans since he declared a state of emergency on March 6, 2020 (save for Secretary of State Michael Adams who worked with Beshear to achieve two successful elections and has been a breath of effective, bipartisan-fresh air). Only two weeks ago, the state Supreme Court unanimously decided (7-0) that Beshear’s executive orders were lawful. Not only that, but: “The governor’s orders were, and continue to be, necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Kentucky citizens,” wrote Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes in the court’s decision.
Republicans’ response? Change the law to make the actions illegal. Do they think they’re the only ones concerned with bills and rent, their livelihoods and family’s future? Do they think Democrats like wearing masks? Do they really think Beshear enjoys this power, that disrupting people’s lives is somehow good politics or helpful for his reelection hopes?
It’s been nine months, and Republicans still haven’t offered a single idea or solution to help the governor and state overcome the virus. After Beshear’s most recent announcement, last week, of short-term actions to help slow the spread of the virus, Senate President Robert Stivers was pressed for what different actions or restrictions Republicans would take. “It’s hard to tell you what we would do differently when we don’t have data. We have data, but it’s either limited, inaccurate or not good,” he said.
In other words, Republicans would either do nothing different, or they are incapable of understanding the data and magnitude and what needs to be done (as is the case with Stivers). But, the answer is even more obvious: The Party of Trump (Mitch McConnell and Matt Bevin) knows only divisive, outrage politics. Instead of working on a solution, or plan of their own, it’s just easier to attack the Democrats’ plans and actions. (Note: The same line could have been written at any time over the last decade regarding Republicans’ approach to healthcare.)
Republican intransigence is all about reclaiming relevancy vis-a-vis a Democratic governor who has been widely lauded for taking action to stop the spread of the virus and save lives. To be fair, the pearl clutching Republicans prefiled several bills to curb Beshear’s emergency powers months ago — they didn’t just wait to lose in the Supreme Court. But, that’s just because the topic-du jour changed.“Senate Republican Leaders go after Andy Beshear’s power with three new bills.” read a March 5 headline in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the day before Beshear declared a state of emergency and not one of those bills had any relation to COVID-19 or the governor’s emergency powers.
Perhaps once Kentucky Republicans see President Joe Biden inaugurated and Trumpism — like Bevinism — is truly behind us, they will be freed of the politics of outrage and division. And then we can all come together, maybe watch a game of basketball together and enjoy watching Louisville beat the hell out of Kentucky (losers!).