As president, Donald Trump has exposed the central flaw in our government and democracy. To work, it requires honest brokers. He’s not one and, as long as his party backs him up, there’s no way to hold him accountable. He lies with impunity and the GOP just looks the other way if it’s not outright defending his lies.
Now, House Speaker Tim Moore is not just looking the other way, he’s emulating the party leader. Yesterday, House Republicans orchestrated a veto-override by telling Democrats and the press that the House would hold no votes at the 8:30am session. Shortly after 8:30, the House Chamber suddenly filled with Republicans and they called a vote on the budget that Governor Cooper had vetoed and overrode it while only a dozen or so Democrats were present. No members of the press were there. As the Washington Post says, “Democracy dies in darkness.”
When they got called on it, the Republicans just lied again, saying that they never said there would be no vote. But there’s plenty of evidence to contradict them. Democratic House Minority Leader Darren Jackson says that he was told by Republican Rules Chair David Lewis that there would be no votes. WRAL reporter Laura Leslie has a text from Lewis saying explicitly that there would be no votes.
Republicans clearly planned the session. The House sometimes meets as a skeleton session to take care of mundane business with just a handful of members from both parties present. Democrats were led to believe that would be the case Wednesday morning. Instead, Republicans showed up in force while Democrats did not. It was no accident. It was an act of deception.
According to sources, Lewis told Moore and other members of the caucus that he had let Jackson and members of the press know there would be no votes in the morning. By that evening Rep. Jason Saine and Moore devised a plan. Saine or someone else sent an email or text late Tuesday night to members of the GOP caucus telling them to be at the 8:30 session on Wednesday.
When the room was full of Republicans and just a handful of Democrats, Saine made the motion to vote on the override. When members of the Democratic caucus asked to speak on the motion, Moore refused to recognize any of them in a clear violation of Robert’s Rules of Order. He knew that the three minutes each member is allowed to speak would give Democrats enough time to get into the Chamber. Instead, he called a vote with no discussion and it passed.
Apparently, Lewis objected to the maneuver because he knew he had told Jackson and members of the press that there would be no votes. Moore threw Lewis under the bus, making him look like the liar in the room. In protest, Lewis was not at the session but lacks the courage or political backbone to call out his fellow Republicans, instead defending the vote for which he was absent.
Tim Moore is a bad actor who should never have gotten near the reigns of power. He puts his own interests and partisanship above the people of the state. Moore has been embroiled in shady financial dealing since he got to Raleigh. As one person put it, Tim Moore went to Raleigh driving a beat up Honda and came home driving a Maserati.
After yesterday’s vote, the GOP cheering section quickly came to the defense of Moore and company. At first they denied anybody had implied there would be no votes and then quickly fell into the Democrats-did-worse defense. It’s the result of a two decade long campaign by the right to discredit the media and anybody who disagrees with GOP leaders. It’s been a disinformation campaign waged on the American people by political operatives and financiers who have not been held in check by a Republican political establishment that should know better.
Moore has learned from Trump. There’s no political price to pay for deception. They’ve convinced their base that the press is in league with the Democrats and that both are untrustworthy. Protests from left fall on deaf ears while the GOP establishment twiddles its proverbial thumbs. Organizations like the John Locke Foundation sit silent while the GOP diminishes trust in our government and institutions because they want their smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation at any cost. They are the enablers, letting the Moores do the dirty work while keeping their white gloved hands clean.
They’ve learned from the president. They can get what they want by lying and deceiving their political adversaries and there’s no political cost. To them, it’s better to have a corrupt government than to hold any standards that might thwart their political agenda. The casualty is the trust necessary to make our government function.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >