Republicans in North Carolina have already tried to rig the electoral system to maintain power through gerrymandering and voter suppression laws. Now, they’re trying to reduce the checks and balances in our government by reducing the power of the executive branch and judicial branch. They’ve been stripping powers from the governor ever since Roy Cooper took office and bills floating through the General Assembly attack the independence of the court system.
Republicans in the legislature don’t want any accountability. Through gerrymandering, they pick their own voters, reducing the competition that essential for a healthy democracy. Through voter suppression laws, they’re limiting access to the polls of people who are likely to disagree with them. Their electoral shenanigans have created veto proof majorities in both houses of the legislature and given Republicans 75% of Congressional seats despite a popular vote that’s far closer to 50% than 60%.
North Carolina already has one of the weakest executives in the country. A veto override is only 60% of the legislature instead of two-thirds. North Carolina elects ten Council of State positions, many of which would be gubernatorial appointees in other states. The legislature is trying to diminish the position even more by limiting Cooper’s powers of appointment and redrawing boards and commissions.
The legislature is altering the judicial branch by eliminating three Court of Appeals seats because three Republicans are retiring. GOP legislative leaders want to prevent Cooper from appointing their replacements. They’ve also introduced bills to make all judicial elections partisan again. With their willingness to gerrymander districts reaching all the way down to the municipal level, expect them to redraw judicial elections to ensure only Republicans can serve on the bench in district and superior court.
Republicans in North Carolina are reducing the accountability that the Founding Fathers intended when they established our political and government systems. Competitive elections would keep elected officials responsible to the citizens of the state. The checks and balances established by divided government are intended to keep one branch from amassing too much power. Republicans in the legislature are attempting to consolidate power by weakening our electoral system and the branches of government intended to serve as a counter-balance to the General Assembly.
The damage to our system is already visible. The legislature can’t come up with a compromise bill to repeal House Bill 2 despite the damage it’s done to our economy and reputation. The Senate President Pro-tem can alter headlines on news stories and then attack the press because his district is so safe, nobody can hold him accountable. The GOP is replacing measured, responsible government with arrogance, belligerence, and extremism. Those aren’t hallmarks of conservatism. They’re indications of authoritarianism.