Two lines of hot debate have emerged out of the highly charged and wholly controversial Legislative Session that ended on Saturday in Tallahassee. One is the clearly partisan actions by the Republican members of the Senate and the House that are in keeping with GOP conservative philosophy, such as laws that affect education, abortion and the economy. The other is not quite as philosophical as it is political: the surprisingly swift, almost secretive, overhaul of the state’s election laws.

With the session ended, the debate has spilled into the open political arena, with the Democrats bent on making the package of GOP conservative legislation a campaign issue leading up to the presidential election next year. What is instructive is that, although almost all the measures that were passed will have an important impact on the lives of Floridians, residents of the state seemed unconcerned over what was going on in Tallahassee. Whether the Democrats can successfully engage a citizenry seemingly disinclined, even in a time of grave economic and social hardship, to enter political discourse is unclear. But it is regrettable that there was not more public involvement and input into the crafting of the laws.

Both in Florida and in the rest of the nation, and including Congress, Republican lawmakers are taking swift action to reshape the national agenda and ethos, using their majorities to force through laws that are altering the American political and socio-economic landscape. That is what happens in a democracy. It would probably be better for the country if the party with the majority pursues a platform which does not shut out the losers as entirely as is happening now. But that is obviously wishful thinking in these days of obscene partisanship.

Not often is the philosophical difference between the two major parties as stark as it is these days. Democrats cling to an ideology that promotes the interests of Americans usually referred to as the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. Republican embrace of the wealthy and corporate interests is unabashed. Sometimes there is room for compromise; not now. It is the people who will have to determine which course is the one they prefer, now that they will have perhaps the strongest dose of GOP medication they have ever had to swallow.

What is wholly acceptable, though, is the clear doctoring of the election laws, packaged as HB 1355, that has nothing to do with ideological differences as it is with undermining the very foundation of the democracy that enables the party system to function. At its heart, the bill deliberately puts obstacles in the way of expanding democracy by curtailing the ability of citizen groups to bring more Americans into the political arena. The backers of the new law claim it is aimed at curtailing voter fraud but they did not provide any evidence of voter misconduct, at least on a scale that warrants this unacceptable intrusion into the voter-registration initiative.

The League of Women Voters, which can hardly be called a partisan organization, is among the groups that the measure has outraged. The League announced it will suspend all its voter-registration activities in the state and is looking into legal action to stop it from taking effect.

Obviously, the GOP considers expanded voter-registration as detrimental to its welfare and the League should take into consideration the fact that in halting its activities in Florida it is giving the GOP exactly what it wants.