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Protests Engulf Wisconsin Capital Amid GOP Power Grab

Outgoing Gov. Scott Walker aims to handcuff the incoming Democratic administration before it takes office. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

As Wisconsin Republicans voted to plow ahead with a sweeping package of legislation that would allow outgoing Gov. Scott Walker to strip significant authority from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers, outraged Wisconsinites flooded the state capitol Monday night to denounce the GOP’s brazen attempt to subvert the will of the voters and “undo democracy itself.”

“This isn’t a bill. This is a coup,” Randy Bryce—aka the “Iron Stache”—said before Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance, which deliberated and ultimately voted along party lines to advance the Republican plan, which seeks to transfer many of Evers’ crucial executive powers to the GOP-dominated legislature. A final vote on the plan is expected as early as Tuesday.

Apparently lacking the courage to speak on behalf of their legislation—or fearing the immense grassroots backlash—the bill’s Republican sponsors didn’t bother to show up to the lame-duck hearing.

Unlike some of their representatives, thousands of Wisconsinites braved the freezing weather and turned out in force, crowding the inside of the capitol building with chants of “Respect our vote!” and rallying outside to denounce the Republicans’ last-ditch power grab.

“They are terrified that democracy is returning to Wisconsin,” The Nation‘s John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, declared in a speech from the steps of the capitol building. “They are terrified that 2018 is not the end of anything, but only the beginning.”

Watch a full video of the rally:

“The only way they can pull this off is if nobody finds out about it,” Ben Wikler, another Wisconsin native and MoveOn.org’s Washington director, said at Monday night’s demonstration. “I was texting right before the show with some national reporters. They can’t believe people are coming out in this weather once they hear how cold it is. We’re proving them wrong right now. This is what democracy looks like.”

If approved by the state legislature, the Republican plan would force Evers to implement Wisconsin’s Trump-approved Medicaid work requirements, stop him from banning guns in the state capitol, and restrict both his ability and that of newly-elected Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul to execute the state’s legal affairs.

The GOP’s sweeping legislative package would also severely restrict early voting, limiting it to as little as two weeks before an election.

Walker, who has just weeks left in office, told reporters on Monday that he would sign the legislative package if it reaches his desk.

With governor-elect Evers vowing to pursue legal action if the plan passes the legislature, Wisconsin Democrats continued to voice their outrage at the GOP’s patently anti-democratic plan, which mirrors ongoing efforts by Republicans in Michigan to effectively overturn November’s election results.

“You rig the system when you win and you rig the system when you lose,” Wisconsin Democratic state Rep. Chris Taylor said of the Republican legislation. “How is it that you have more power when you lose?”

Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

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