As in Wisconsin, Michigan’s lame-duck GOP legislature tried to clip the wings of incoming Democratic officials and force through conservative policies before the governor’s mansion changed hands. Unlike in Wisconsin, the outgoing governor, Mr. Snyder, refused to play along.
Mr. Snyder vetoed a controversial party-line bill that would have made it easier for the state legislature to intervene in litigation involving state laws and other official actions. The goal was, in part, to ensure the state defended a 2015 law allowing religiously affiliated adoption agencies to discriminate against gay would-be parents. Mr. Snyder argued that, if the law had been in force when he was running the state, it would have made it harder for him and the attorney general to carry on state-related litigation. In other words, he declined to salt the earth as he left the field.
The outgoing governor also refused to sign legislation that would have undercut any effort to compel nonprofit organizations — which often serve as vehicles for political spending — to disclose their donor lists, once again to the satisfaction of the incoming Democratic attorney general. And Mr. Snyder vetoed a measure that would have banned doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medications via teleconference. Another bill meant to make abortion pointlessly difficult, the abortion legislation was a priority for Right to Life of Michigan, a pressure group that promptly attacked Mr. Snyder for his veto.
Mr. Snyder’s record is not spotless. He was complicit in a tricky GOP maneuver to dilute a popular minimum-wage hike and paid-sick-leave mandate behind the backs of voters. But his recent actions generally followed an essential principle in any functioning democracy: Sometimes your side loses, and when that happens, the other side gets to govern for a time. Basic rules should not change because a Democrat won an election.
Republicans are not the only ones who fear the consequences of handing over power to their opponents. But the GOP has done much more than the Democrats lately to stack the electoral deck against its political rivals and, when that does not work, change the rules to limit Democrats’ ability to make policy when they are in charge. Though he is not perfect on these issues, it was heartening to see Mr. Snyder resist the partisan trend on his way out.