In a recent interview with CQ/Roll Call N.C. House Speaker and U. S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis responded to allegations of cronyism in his appointments to the UNC Board of Governors by replying that, “… (the Democrats) did it at levels that we would never allow.” This is hardly the first time we’ve heard this response from the current Republican government leadership. Over and over again the Republicans have responded to criticisms of their policies and accusations of corruption and cronyism by shouting “The Democrats were worse!” Now they’re right about the excesses of previous Democratic leadership. After over a hundred years of entrenched power corruption and cronyism had become commonplace, neither I nor anyone else on this blog will argue with that fact.
The Republicans were elected into power on promises that they would “clean up Raleigh” that they would stop the cronyism, that the Democrats were corrupt and the state needed a change. Now the people of North Carolina agreed with these ideas, and for all of the complaints in Democratic circles about gerrymandering (full disclosure Dems did that too, just not as effectively or ruthlessly) the biggest thing that propelled Republicans to power in this state was voter fatigue from corrupt administration after corrupt administration. Here’s the problem though, when voters elect you into office on promises of transparency, clean government and fairness, they actually expect you to follow through on those promises, and not just be a little less corrupt than the guys they just threw out. Instead they’ve followed the example set by their predecessors, and seemingly tried to set a new land speed record for political corruption.
Over and over again, the Republican leadership have broken those promises. In terms of cronyism, they’ve repeatedly given highly paid positions to supporters whose only qualifications seem to be that they hold the ‘right’ political ideas. They’ve tripled the number patronage positions from those available to the last administration. As for corruption, not only is Mr Tillis being questioned about his ethics by national news sources, but one of his own committee chairs resigned this year over accusations of his being ‘too close to business interests.’
The defense that “The Democrats did it worse” was weak when they came into power, and truly rings hollow now. Ultimately, though I’m not the one they have to answer to. Somehow I don’t think the voters are going to accept this reply next year when they still can’t find a job, or get medicare and their unemployment has been cut off. Surprisingly, when voters elect someone who promises to clean up government, they expect them to actually do it, and not just be a little less corrupt than the last guy.