Watching Republicans yell “But the Democrats!” on twitter in response to the election fraud in the 9th Congressional District race has been very entertaining. It’s also given new meaning to the term Election projection. The twitter warrior who goes by the handle Sister Toldjah has been “documenting” the history of election misconduct in Bladen County, always pointing to Democrats’ culpability in the process. Raleigh Attorney Brent Woodcox who serves as special counsel to the Republicans in the General Assembly has been desperately trying to point fingers at Roy Cooper’s 2016 campaign.

Look, Bladen County has had a corruption problem for years, if not decades. It’s been investigated almost continuously for the past eight years. People have gone to jail for election fraud. But this investigation centers on an immediate concern: the attempt to steal a Congressional election by rigging mail-in ballots both by manufacturing votes and destroying them. The authorities are looking into that specific charge that determines how soon people in the 9thCongressional District will have legitimate representation in Washington. It will almost certainly lead to questions about the outcomes of other races in due time.

There’s a bigger story at play here, though. A lot of Republicans don’t trust Democrats to investigate voter fraud. Why? Projection. They’ve been trying to rig the electoral system ever since they won control of the legislature back in 2010. They assume Democrats will behave like they have. However, that’s not what history shows.

In the first decade of the 21stcentury, when cronyism and corruption infected Democrats who had been in power too long, other Democrats held them accountable, including sending people to jail. Republicans benefited from the works of good government Democrats when they were able to exploit the corruption for political gain in 2010. The difference between the parties is that Democrats believe in the power of government to do good and will hold their own accountable to make sure that they’re right. Republicans in North Carolina don’t and won’t.

For much of the time that Bladen County has been under investigation, Republicans controlled the State Board of Elections. It was the GOP board that dismissed Pat McCrory’s complaints against Roy Cooper in 2016. However, as Sister Toldjah tweeted, “[T]he Republican who sided with two other Democrats in the McCrory case is known in the modern #ncpolera as a middle of the roader who frequently breaks with Republicans.” In other words, Republicans should stick with Republicans instead of seeking the truth.

There are honest people across the political spectrum who want our democracy to work. We need to give them space to do it without trying to discredit their work before it really even begins. There’s plenty to investigate down in the 9th District, but the place to start is with this Congressional election and see where it goes from there. Corruption is not owned by either party. It’s part of politics and government everywhere. The Sister Toldjah’s of the world need to drop their tribalism for a minute and look for ways to protect our democracy instead of incessantly screaming “The Democrats did it, too.”

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 >

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