KY GOP: A Study in Irony

At the same time Republicans in Frankfort were pushing through bills limiting abortion and imposing additional restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, they were also living their dream of making Kentucky a “right-to-work” state. The fact that these initiatives were being pushed concurrently seemed lost on Bevin, when he advanced this argument in favor of right-to-work legislation:

Perhaps Bevin should’ve included #awkward on that tweet. It seems that, for the GOP, the freedom of choice is wholesomely American when choices are made by corporate executives and inure to their benefit. When made by workers or women, that it is a fundamental attack on American values.

This level of irony is endemic in Republican policies and their purported ideological underpinnings. To take them at face value would require an Olympic-level of intellectual gymnastics. Take, for example, the delays imposed by the Bevin Administration to  bring Kentucky into compliance with the federal REAL ID regulations.

For some background, the (Republican) Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 based on the recommendations of the (bipartisan) 9/11 Commission. In fact, it was passed in the Senate with a vote of 100-0. It was signed into law by (Republican) President Bush in May 2005.

The initiative required states to institute additional security measures for state issued IDs. Kentucky received an extension that expired last year:

For states that don’t receive an extension, enforcement measures for noncompliance will begin in January [2017], Rodriguez said. At that point, Kentucky residents wouldn’t be able to use their state-issued driver’s licenses to enter secure federal facilities such as the Homeland Security headquarters or nuclear power plants. They would have to use an alternative form of ID.

The biggest impact on Kentuckians would happen in January 2018, when they would need to bring another kind of ID, such as a U.S. passport, to the airport with them in order to take a domestic flight since their state-issued driver’s licenses alone would no longer be accepted.

Last year, before the extension expired, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill with bipartisan support that would bring Kentucky into compliance and avoid these consequences. Governor Bevin initially supported the bill, saying there was “nothing to be concerned about” in a video posted to his Facebook page:


But in a stunning about-face a month after this video, Governor Bevin vetoed it amid conspiracy theories advanced by his Tea Party compatriots:

During the legislative session, Bevin voiced support for the bill but said in his veto message Wednesday that since then “it has become increasingly clear that there is tremendous opposition and misunderstanding about the bill.”

“We also owe the voters of Kentucky the ability to see what effect, if any, the next presidential administration will have on this issue,” he said.

REAL ID is a hot topic among Tea Party conspiracy theorists, who claim that the bill is a secret government attempt to leech our personal information, equipping them with the tools to create a national database to aid in the government’s total destruction of personal liberty and freedom. What’s next? Microchips?

With the clock running out before Kentuckians will not be able to use their IDs to simply board an airplane, the issue is being reintroduced in the state legislature but with the newfound assurance that the incoming administration will save us!

Several members of the Tea Party, who heavily backed Bevin’s run for governor, had expressed concerns about too much federal intervention in people’s private lives.

Bevin also said it was important that Kentucky voters be allowed to see what effect, if any, the next presidential election had on the issue.

Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said Friday that state officials have been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security and officials in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

“We are actively working to secure a short extension like the one granted in recent days to Oklahoma, while we determine what additional actions may be required by Kentucky,” Stamper said. “We are confident that we will achieve resolution to this matter during the current legislative session.”

So our personal information is safe in the hands of the Trump Administration, right? Only they will avoid that pesky “federal intervention in people’s private lives.” (No guarantees, though, about avoiding Russian intervention in our elections.)

And here we have yet another study in irony from our GOP friends. Unsubstantiated, conspiracy-driven fears of government “intervention in people’s private lives” are sufficient to jeopardize Kentucky’s compliance with federal homeland security regulations and halt a bipartisan piece of legislation in its tracks. But the very first bill introduced by the new Republican majority in Frankfort codified government intervention in one of the most private aspects of women’s health.

This is not a party of principal nor is it even a party of ideas. These and other ironies result from their total surrender to Trumpism and demagoguery–from Washington to Frankfort.


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