State Journal Publisher Steve Stewart last week offered an optimistic view for state Republicans to “lead the way in restoring dignity” when it comes to governing (“Kentucky's GOP leaders should lead the way in restoring dignity,” Jan. 8-10). Too bad Republican state legislators chose to ignore Stewart’s column.
Instead, they are rushing bills through aimed at stripping power from Gov. Andy Beshear. Many of these bills are the result of Beshear’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and complaints about him being heavy-handed with regulations designed to keep people out of hospitals and morgues. (I have not seen a Republican plan for dealing with the pandemic in Kentucky; maybe they’ve been too busy drafting these bills.)
Apparently, Republicans aren’t interested in a governor who tries to keep our citizens safe and alive. They challenged Beshear in court and lost that fight before the Kentucky Supreme Court. So now with majorities in the House and Senate and the distraction of the attempted coup in Washington, they’re hurrying bills through the General Assembly in hopes you won’t notice the power grab.
In addition to the legislation, the House of Representatives plans to have a committee consider an impeachment request based on complaints from four citizens about Beshear’s regulations dealing with the pandemic — the same regulations upheld by the state Supreme Court.
Instead of working on ways to help people during the pandemic, our Republican lawmakers have been using it for political purposes. With more than 2,900 deaths and more than 300,000 COVID cases in Kentucky, one would think that elected officials would want to work together to save lives.
But that would require compromise and leadership, two things that are not in the Republican playbook these days. As Steve Stewart said in his column, American democracy “has become a professional wrestling match’’ that has some elected leaders supporting mobs like the one that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. I don’t think that’s what the voters asked for when they elected our political leaders, whether they are Republicans or Democrats.
I’m afraid dignity will just have to wait while Republicans gorge themselves.
Gil Lawson, of Frankfort, worked as a reporter for The State Journal, The Associated Press and the Courier Journal. He recently retired from state government. He can be emailed at email@example.com