Elections have consequences

ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES…. In the Kansas legislature this week, the chairman of the House Republican caucus suggested he’d found a “solution to our illegal immigration problem.” The answer? Shooting immigrants from helicopters.

Noting the remarks, Dana Milbank explained today that this is just one of many head-shaking examples coming out of state legislatures “now that many Tea Party types have come to power.”

When Louis Brandeis called state legislatures “laboratories of democracy,” he couldn’t have imagined the curious formulas the Tea Party chemists would be mixing in 2011, including: a bill just passed by the Utah legislature requiring the state to recognize gold and silver as legal tender; a Montana bill declaring global warming “beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana”; a plan in Georgia to abolish driver’s licenses because licensing violates the “inalienable right” to drive; legislation in South Dakota that would require every adult to buy a gun; and the Kentucky legislature’s effort to create a “sanctuary state” for coal, safe from environmental laws.

In Washington, the whims of the Tea Party lawmakers have been tempered, by President Obama and Senate Democrats, but also by House Republican leaders who don’t want the party to look crazy. Yet these checks often do not exist in state capitols. Though many of the proposals will never become law, the proliferation of exotic policies gives Americans a sense of what Tea Party rule might look like.

Milbank highlights a variety of unnerving examples — from the silly to the dangerous — some of which stand no chance of passing, some of which may actually become state law.

But this isn’t just about pointing and laughing at crazy lawmakers with crazy ideas. There’s a substantive angle to this — namely, the fact that elections have consequences, and in 2011, those consequences include radical policymakers pushing truly ridiculous proposals.

Voters have only themselves to blame, since the radicals couldn’t have achieved power without an electoral endorsement, but here’s hoping those same voters are getting a good look at their post-election handiwork, and will keep these revelations in mind come 2012.