GOP continues to whine when they can’t rig the vote

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

If you can’t win fairly, then rig the game.

This is pretty much the new motto of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

Whiny over new legislative redistricting maps that only give them a slight advantage, the GOP in the legislature is trying to use a constitutional amendment to make sure they can fix the game again. 

They’re trying, again, to do the same thing when it comes to the state courts, too, with yet another run at “district” Supreme Court Justices — insuring a minimum number (likely a majority) of judges come from Republican-leaning districts, even though the state has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

And rest assured, they’re going to find a way to pass both amendments, using sneaky, confusing double-negative wording to confuse voters, just as they’ve done in the past.

With fair maps and judges from the entire commonwealth, Republicans can’t win, can’t force laws and policies that most Pennsylvanians disagree with.

Keep in mind, the proposed maps still slightly favor Republicans, despite there being more Democrats in the commonwealth. For GOP, though, anything short of a fixed game — which they’ve managed for nearly two decades — is somehow wrong.

But it also means we may have the worst state government in the region and among the worst in the country, because there is zero accountability. State legislators can pretty much do as they please without worrying whether voters will kick them to curb.

To steal a term of art, Pennsylvania’s government is a “clown show.”

Unless you’re a big corporation, the state’s government has a decidedly “screw you” attitude toward its residents.

Minimum wage? Hah. Lowest, by far in the region. If you wonder why young people are fleeing the state, start here.

School funding? Right. Nope. Since the 1970s, the commonwealth’s share of funding for K-12 and higher education has dwindled from around 75% to less than 30%. That means poorer districts have to do without. Do without safe buildings (especially important in the era of COVID), do without history books newer than the 1990s. Do without enough teachers. Do without school nurses. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Fortunately, a lawsuit is currently at trial likely to force changes — as has happened in many other states — to force more and fairer school funding.

Our college kids are buried by high tuition, crazy loans and no real way to pay them back without living with mom and dad for decades.

Legalize marijuana and expunge criminal records of low-level offenders? Not in this lifetime.

Sure, legal weed would generate hundreds of millions in revenue for the commonwealth, save on pointless policing and prisons and remove a barrier of upward mobility for those convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana and left with a criminal record that all but bars most jobs. But most of the GOP remains a “no.”

The roads and bridges kind of suck. The State Police are undermanned and overused.

Billions in federal aid for the COVID crisis are just sitting in the bank, awaiting “a rainy day,” as a monsoon rages. Meanwhile small businesses, schools and hospitals in dire need of funding to get through the crisis are told to “pound salt.”

So what exactly does GOP majority in the state legislature do? It’s down to naming bridges — quickly before they collapse due to decades of poor maintenance — and overturning the votes of the people (and making sure it is a lot harder for them to vote).

I’m not going to suggest Pennsylvania Democrats are perfect — they’re not. Too many have sold their souls to some industries and trade unions, the latter rife with corruption. And don’t get me started on the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has repeatedly failed at any thing like oversight on the Mariner East II pipeline project — which is a dangerous fiasco.

We’re going to have legislative elections this year — all of the House and half of the state Senate. If you’re happy with the status quo, you can keep watching TikTok videos and ignore the elections.

But, if you’re fed up, get engaged. Ask questions. Demand answers of those running for office. We’ve been letting these people skate for far too long.

Pennsylvania is a failed state. 

It’s time for that to change.

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