OPINION: The People’s Republic of Missouri

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By GLENN KOENEN

Before the election, Republicans all across the state lambasted most every Democrat as a “socialist” or “communist.” New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders got more ink in Missouri campaign literature than they probably did in their home states.

Ironic since in the Show Me State, the party of socialism and communism is the Republican Party.

To cite a few recent examples…

  • Central control of government – Missouri Republicans always claim to be for local control, except they’re not. Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester), Representative Jim Murphy (R-Mehlville) and others, for example, filed legislation to usurp the ability of local governments to respond to local health issues. Senate Bill 21, House Bill 75 and several similar measures would severely time limit a reasoned, professional approach a county might make to, say, COVID-19.Murphy also proposes – again – to allow the Attorney General to run roughshod over any elected county prosecutor if they feel the local prosecutor isn’t mean enough. [HB77]
  • The will of the people is meaningless – Despite voters overwhelming overturning so-called “right-to-work” in 2018, a bill to enact it again [HB 87] has been pre-filed.  In a similar vein, a bunch of bills making it much, much harder to get initiative petitions (especially constitutional amendments) on the ballot are now in line. Remember, too, that CLEAN Missouri – the voter-approved measure to increase transparency in the state and clean up the redistricting process, was gutted by a deceptive legislature-sponsored “alternative” this fall.Missourians also voted against concealed carry legislation, but this next session includes several measures that propose to allow concealed guns on public transportation [HB 52] and in some of the few other places hidden guns are still prohibited. Plus, The Second Amendment Preservation Act [HB 85] enshrines Missouri’s “official view” that God pretty much wants everyone to own a machine gun.
  • Government officials need not follow their own rules – this happened to me, today. I went to renew my driver license, wanting a REAL I.D. They rejected my Social Security card [circa 1970] because the signature of a high school freshman doesn’t match that of a retiree, and the card was very legible because it had been laminated. I had to go home for a tax-related 1099 form with my entire nine-digit SSN. Well, for several years, all 1099’s have shown just the last four digits of the Social Security number – including the 1099G forms issued by the Missouri Department of Revenue.

In other words, the forms sent out by the state aren’t accepted by the state.

Now this gets scary:  watching the second special (extraordinary) session of the Legislature this fall, it was readily apparent that social distancing and mask wearing don’t apply to Republican legislators. Of course, legislators are the only state-paid folks who can smoke or have alcohol in their office (and drink on the job if they like). 

‘DO WHAT WE TELL YOU’
That stuff carved into the wall of the Missouri House chamber about the welfare of the people being the supreme law is so 19th Century. In the top-down government enforced by the majority party, a more appropriate saying would be, “Do what we tell you is good for you.”

Missouri Republicans practice top-down socialism. Too bad they won’t admit it.

(Glenn Koenen is the retired executive director of Circle of Concern; a member of the Jobs with Justice Workers Rights Board; a member of the Empower Missouri Board of Directors and chairs its Hunger Taskforce.)

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