What it’s going to take to stop the awfulness
December 15, 2016 1 Comment
It is truly horrifying what the Republicans in NC are up to. This is far from the first time there’s been a state with a Republican legislature and a newly-elected Democratic governor. Yet, never have I heard of an attempt at such a far-reaching, anti-democratic power grab. Of course Democrats are speaking up loudly. Including getting arrested. And the national media is bringing a harsh spotlight. But these are the same guys who dug in on HB2– they just don’t care.
Until prominent Republicans call them out to stop the shenanigans, it’s just not going to happen. And, so far, there’s been a few decent souls in the state board of education, but that’s it, as far as I’m aware. Has the entire Republican party simply adopted the “anything goes in the pursuit of power” mantra?! Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Republicans have warmed so much to Putin. Are there no Republicans of note in this entire state with any principles? And, of course, any voters who are troubled by this and they blithely keep on supporting Republicans are part of the problem. Then again, most Republican Voters are likely just taking motivated reasoning to absurd levels at the moment. So frustrating. It seems that Democracy is failing at the federal level and now in NC as well. A well-functioning democracy depends on falling a whole bunch of unwritten rules, i.e., norms. When one party unilaterally decides to ignore those norms, well, so much for well-functioning democracy.
And, while I’m at it, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern with a nice summary of the awfulness:
- Overhaul county election boards to prevent Democratic control. Current law states that each county election board must be made up of three members, two of which should come from the governor’s party. The new proposal would give each election board four members—two Democrats and two Republicans—to prevent Democrats from taking control of the boards.
- Overhaul the State Board of Elections by merging it with the State Ethics Commission and increasing its size. Right now, the law states that the election board must have five members, with three from the governor’s party. The new law would give it eight members—four Democrats and four Republicans—to forestall a Democratic advantage when Cooper takes office.
- Allow a Democrat to chair the State Board of Elections in odd-numbered years—when there are typically no elections—and allow a Republican to chair the board in even-numbered years—when state and federal elections are normally held.
- Make Supreme Court elections partisan and introduce party primaries. Republicans believe they lost the 2016 Supreme Court election because the candidates lacked a partisan identification.
- Completely change the appeals process in order to limit the state Supreme Court’s authority. When Republicans took power, they provided citizens with the right to appeal constitutional challenges from superior court directly to the state Supreme Court. The new measure would remove this right, requiring constitutional challenges to be heard by all 15 judges of the court of appeals—which is dominated by Republicans—before reaching the state Supreme Court.
- Allow McCrory to pick the Industrial Commission chairman, who will serve for the next four years. Under current law, Cooper should have the opportunity to fill this position.
- Reduce the number of state employees who serve at the pleasure of the governor. When McCrory took office, Republicans increased this number from 500 to 1,500. They now propose reducing it to 300.
- Remove Cooper’s ability to appoint trustees to run campuses in the University of North Carolina system—and transfer that power to the state legislature.
- Require Senate confirmation of Cooper’s Cabinet appointments. McCrory’s appointments did not require Senate approval.
- Confirm McCrory’s closest ally, state budget director Andrew Heath, to a superior court judgeship.
- Abolish car-emissions testing in many counties; eliminate some state environmental reports; and remove scientists from certain state boards tasked with protecting public health, replacing them with industry representatives.
These proposals are not merely designed to negate the will of the voters in this election. They are also intended to maintain Republican-sponsored voter suppression, thereby preventing Democrats from ever regaining control of the North Carolina government.
What’s happening in North Carolina is not politics as usual. It is an extraordinarily disturbing legislative coup, a flagrant effort to maintain one-party rule by rejecting democratic norms and revoking the will of the voters. It is the kind of thing we might expect to see in Venezuela, not a U.S. state. It should terrify every American citizen who believes in the rule of law. This is so much more than a partisan power grab. This is an attack on democracy itself. [emphasis mine]
Amen. A FB friend complained about the “blatant partisanship” but that’s an insult to partisanship. So much of politics but the interests of party before the people, good policy, etc. It’s not great, but it’s politics as we know it. But this is not partisanship. Partisanship is not about shattering the norms of properly-functioning democracy. This is petty tyranny.