No way to govern

by | Dec 16, 2016 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics | 23 comments

Republicans in the legislature just can’t help themselves. They overreach at almost every opportunity and eventually pay a price. They’ve done it with voting bills, redistricting, House Bill 2 and now in the special session as they try to amass power at the expense of both Roy Cooper and the people of the state.

They could have instituted a broad voter ID bill that would both protect people’s right to vote and add scrutiny to voters, even if it’s not needed. Instead, they passed a sweeping bill clearly designed disenfranchise people who disagree with them and the whole bill got tossed by the courts.

They could have easily drawn redistricting maps that would have given them healthy majorities in the legislature and Congress while including a few more competitive districts. Instead, they drew some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country. Consequently, our elections have been in turmoil for most of the decade because of the GOP’s unconstitutional actions.

With House Bill 2, they should have let Charlotte handle its own affairs since the GOP at one time was the party of limited government. Once they called the special session, though, they loaded up the bill with clearly discriminatory measures that affected every county and city in the state. They clearly wanted to let the LGBT community to know who is in control and strip power from local governments. As a result, they’ve irreparably damaged the state’s reputation and cost us hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

With the current special session, the GOP legislature is trying to restrict Cooper’s ability to govern while grabbing as much power as possible. When Pat McCrory came into office, they gave him 1,500 additional political positions. Now, they’ve stripped them from Cooper and left him with only 300 appointees. That may make governing a bit difficult but imposing that penalty for being of the opposing party would be normal. The GOP couldn’t stop there, though. They had to overreach–restructuring our election system, changing the court system, moving entire departments out of the executive branch, taking away Cooper’s power of appointment to boards and commissions, and more. Their brazen attempt to restructure state government in a three-day special session has again grabbed the attention of the whole nation.

Republicans in North Carolina have lost their way. At one time, they were the party of limited government. Now, they’re the party of authoritarian government. They’ve repeatedly tried to limit the rights of minorities. They’ve attempted to maintain power by skewing the election process in their favor. Now, they’re attacking the very institutions that make our government work. They have little respect for the traditions and norms that have established stability and ensured the peaceful transfer of power. Instead, they change the rules haphazardly and sporadically to fit their needs. That’s no way to govern. Eventually, we’ll all pay a heavy price.



  1. Margaret Ray

    I don’t know how the required fields were messed up because I typed them in correctly, they are corrected again. I have had other letters published here. It is fine if you don’t publish the letter. Some of the suggestions contained therein might have been helpful. I worked in politics for many years, for two U.S. Senators. Have been retired for some years.
    Good luck. Margaret ray

  2. Deeply Ashamed Homo Sapien

    Recent actions by the pathetically ignorant, shameless, and self-righteous Republicans have achieved something I would have formerly considered impossible. Their blatantly despicable dictatorial acts have given admitted pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and hypocrites around the world someone to look down on and thus improve their self-esteem. Congratulations to the obstinate Neanderthals of the NC Legislature. You are now the laughing stock of the entire planet. May your accounts be paid in full on judgment day.

  3. jt ham

    Have The republicans done anything illegal?

    • Thomas W Hill

      JT, Are you kidding me? Have you not read the news wherein federal courts have struck down portions of their gerrymandering bill and also their entire voter restrictions act? The word for their actions is “illegal”.

    • Thomas W Hill

      Webster’s New World Dictionary. illegal: adj., prohibited by law; against the law; unlawful; illicit; also, not authorized or sanctioned, as by rules.

      • TY Thompson

        Well, Appeals Courts have been known to be wrong…or in the case of the 4th Circuit, increasingly leftward of late and away from the Constitution in it’s interpretations. Thus, next year, we’ll need and probably get a Supreme Court weigh-in to determine who is right.

  4. Eric Smith

    Thanks, Tom! This is more like it! I thought the governor-elect in his remarks used some of the same talking points that you posted yesterday. I especially liked the way that he challenged Phil Berger to work with him on incentives to keep jobs in Berger’s own district. But the power grab is what it is. I was present for the protests yesterday. I hope you were there. Inspiring. It was elevating to hear our eloquent Democratic senators speaking out in their chamber. The lady senator from a hurricane affected district made the telling comparison: $900M appropriated for Hurricane Floyd relief. $200M for Hurricane Matthew _and_ wild fire recovery. The Republicans did not pay very much for their special session other than exposure of their hypocrisy.

  5. David Hamilton

    We HAVE to start throwing some of these republicans out of office, but it’s hard to do when you don’t even put up an opponent like in Henderson County. Good candidates can get elected. They will need to start in the first half of 2017, building a support network and getting out to meet with various community and religious groups. In 2017 they need to identify what neighborhoods make up the “middle” of the voter pool and spend 2 hours a day knocking on doors, spending 30 seconds introducing themselves, and leaving written materials. There is nothing more memorable than a candidate for office visiting your house. The strategy should be a slow walk through 2017, a jog through labor day 2018, and a sprint to the finish.

    And let’s get some fresh meat out there running for office. Candidates who consistently lose are branded just that – a loser.

    • Thomas W Hill

      David, We had good Democratic candidates on the Henderson County state legislature and state senate tickets during this past election. They were respectively Maureen Copelof (a retired Navy Captain and formerly a Republican), and Norm Bossert (a retiring school principal). Both lost with less than 38 percent of the vote, and Maureen lost to a totally unknown 24-year old kid whose only qualification was the letter R by his name. I handed out campaign materials for both Norm and Maureen. The problem is NOT good candidates, but rather, a party image which is out of touch with the mainstream voters. We can either move to the center in this part of the state, or we can continue to offer up good people as sacrifices in the NC elections.

      • Proud Progressive

        Thomas Hill:

        Great sign that you were out there actively campaigning for those two candidates. I hope you and those candidates and other progressives in your part of the state stay engaged and continue working hard.

        You may be correct about a party image out of touch. But Republicans in those Henderson legislative districts are no more and no less mainstream than the Democrats in my Wake County districts. They are doubtless more rural than urban, more white than diverse, but not more mainstream – unless the definition of mainstream is white and rural and conservative.

        Democrats and progressives don’t need to move to the center. That’s an illusion. Republicans have hijacked governing to such an extreme position that the center keeps lurching to the right.

        The real rub is how to connect with white, rural, conservative voters. Democrats have not been as effective at framing the public debate and its own image. That includes Obama and Clinton. We have to be as relentless in making the case as the Republicans are at falsely maligning it.

        These voters say they are interested in the economy, health care, and education. And they are motivated by social issues – guns and religious conservatism and immigration (also an economic issue). The Republican policy agenda has been to exploit the latter and offer nothing on the former – in fact, to be more damaging to those voters in most cases (see blocking Medicaid expansion, for example, which tends to benefit impoverished rural areas on both health care and the economy).

        Democrats over the last 8 years have in fact been successful. With the record of the Obama administration’s successes, if he were white and Republican (apologies for the redundancy), he’d be hailed as the second coming of Reagan or God or both. That is a record of Democratic success.

        Democrats need to drive that message relentlessly to those Henderson County and other rural voters in a way that connects on the issues they care about. Democrats need to hammer away at what they can do for those voters – in a clear and persuasive way.

        What Democrats have to offer on the economy, education, and health care is by far much better for those voters than what the Republicans have done or will do. Make the distinctions clear. Ask those voters what the Republicans have done (or propose to do) to address their concerns. Maybe ask what they’ve done specifically in this state since taking over the state 6 years ago. Then explain what Democrats will do (and have tried to do or have done) to improve their lives. Do something concrete and local to show those voters what Democrats and progressives do to help them.

        I don’t know what those campaign materials you handed out included. If it included those messages, great. But the message connects better if the candidates have those discussions – real discussions – directly with those voters. And if the messages are clear and relentlessly driven home to those voters – not just in the weeks and months ahead of an election, but as often as possible to frame the public debate and to make the message stick.

        • Thomas W Hill

          Democrats who believe that they can persuade a majority of rural voters in NC just on the basis of logic might as well spend their time whistling “Dixie”. Right wing propaganda has branded us as a party of atheistic activists and has reduced much of the voting process to looking for an R or a D behind the candidate’s name. These voters were told to vote the first name on the ballot if they had any doubts, because the Republicans, as the majority party, had the privilege of putting their candidates first. This worked well for them, except that the NC Supreme Court candidates were non partisan, and their order was determined by a random draw. Thus, Mike Morgan’s name was first and many of them voted for him. That was a deciding factor in his election. 🙂

          As for Obama’s legacy, we Democrats tend to overrate it. Read a recent article in The Nation, which states, “Despite his pledge to “fundamentally change the way Washington works,” Barack Obama was always an institutionalist. … The Democratic Party was eviscerated during Obama’s eight years, losing Congress and going from 29 to 18 governorships and from total control of 17 state legislatures to just six.”
          Clearly, we must learn from our losses and act accordingly.

          • Proud Progressive

            That is karmic justice about Mike Morgan’s election. Made me laugh thinking about it again.

            You’re absolutely right – we need to learn from the losses and act.

            If rural voters have been trained to vote by R or first name because Ds are atheistic activists then moving to the center has little chance of being effective. What would that look like? Not advocating for economic opportunity, health care and strong public school support? My guess is dropping the social issues – which tend to be viewed through a religious lens.

            You mention propaganda has been used to convince rural voters. True. And it’s been effective for Rs – Obama is an un-American, secret Muslim terrorist; Obamacare is a disaster and a government takeover; Hillary Clinton should be in prison. All complete nonsense. But that propaganda has been a primary factor in the electoral losses for Democrats.

            I’m not suggesting carefully constructed logical arguments will sway those voters.

            I am suggesting that rather than moving to the center, Democrats need to do a better job of selling the agenda. Clear, simplified messages about how the rural voter is helped by a progressive policy or a program (or would be if enacted) – and how the rural voter is harmed by a Republican policy or program. Clear, simplified, and relentless. Focus on the economic, health care, and education issues. Make it sound centrist (because it is already). Downplay the social issues that tend to distract. Couple that with actual and frequent contact with these voters by Democratic candidates and elected officials.

            Democrats have lost ground in large part because they haven’t effectively countered the Republican propaganda machine – which is as relentless as it is misleading. And that machine is not about to cede if Democrats move to the center.

          • Thomas Hill

            I agree. One area where we must focus is pointing out that social programs that everyone depends on — Social Security and Medicare — were passed by Democrats with nothing but obstruction from the Republicans. Without these programs, young people would be forced to support the majority of old people in their own homes, or the old folks (including past working-class Republican voters) would be living and dying in the streets without healthcare.

          • Rex Visigothis

            For the full measure of post election pain, you have to hear Kellyann O’Donnell lay out a role where her future involves “the outside game” where she organizes the pressure group so that “if anyone wants to stand in his (Trump’s ) way, I’ll be right there in his face, and we’ll be looking for the 60th and 61 st senator in 2018”–In other words, the grassroots corps that Obama chose affirmatively to dissolve in 2009.


          • Someone from Main Street

            Franklin Graham is hugely influential.

            I have never seen anything like the coup that happened last week. NC wants to be a Christian theocracy. Democracy has no place in this state. Very disturbing.

      • Deplorable Infidel

        Yes, GREAT EXAMPLE of what is occurring throughout the country with sad democrats losing ground at every turn. After 140+ years of total control in NC , democrats have a really difficult time processing that they no longer have control. period.

        • Thomas Hill

          DI, What you are celebrating, as is true for the Trump election in general, is the rejection of rationality and willingness to compromise in favor of emotion, anarchy, and calculated ignorance. When the Democrats were in power, the official Republican position (according to Mitch McConnell) was to oppose everything the Democrats proposed. Now that they have a majority in two branches of the federal government, and will soon have a majority in all three, they are espousing “why can’t we all just get along?” The sad truth is that they cannot get along with each other, and the party center faces an uncontrollable “Freedom Caucus” right wing which will obstruct their mainstream agenda.

    • entsMargaret Ray

      These Republicans learned from our US congress who stood up Day One of Obama’s 2008 win and said, “We will never allow this president to get anything done.” stated by Mitch McConnell, now his wife has a cabinet job and he is smiling like a Cheshire cat. To some extent it worked well until President Obama began making an end run around congress. He got a lot done that will be undone starting January 20. Democrats have a great story of accomplishments as the president laid out today when comparing what the numbers were in 2008 versus 2016 – amazing. In 2015 Trump the wack job showed up and threw a monkey wrench into the works. Hillary lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a total of 77, 143 votes. Think what a little more personal attention might have done — President Hillary?

      Your post is music to my ears, because the formula you lay out has worked, can work and will work again. Sadly during the eight years Obama was in the White House. Democrats stopped doing grass roots politics exactly as you describe and we lost governors, legislatures and local elections in state after state. The count now — 33 states are deeply Republican. President Obama, in his last news conference today, described in great detail how in his US Senate campaign, he drove thousands of miles talking to farmers, small business owners, patrons in coffee shops and on the street. It worked and a complete unknown became a US Senator and before his first term was up, he was running for president.

      My home state is North Carolina but I lived many years in the Midwest. Hillary lost Michigan and Wisconsin because she, or her advisors, took them
      for granted. She never visited Wisconsin once, and Michigan’s west side which is more conservative and always needed stroking, she got there the last day before voting when the bad inside polling news started to show up.

      I worked in the US Senate for 10 years back in the 80s when congress was still working across the isles and gridlock was rare. Nobody was angry and Old Tip O’Neil would always boom, “All politics are local.” Yes, rebuilding from the town council up is the only way the Democratic Party will have a 50 state strategy again. Former DNC chair, Howard Dean, knows how to do that because he has done it. The DNC job has gotten too big for one person. I would like to see Howard Dean have a specialist job at the DNC — working with the local state Democrats across the country. I saw an interview with the NC Republican State Chairman today. Rough guy, needs some polish, but he yells like he was competing at a hog calling contest. No one had any problem hearing him — the sqeaky wheels get the grease.

      These are a few thoughts to ponder. My heart’s wish is that North Carolina and other states will wake up to what is necessary to start winning in 2018. Many of these young people who voted in their first election in 2016 for Hillary and didn’t win. Here are millions of smart, energetic potential Democrats — they are competitive and like to win. They are for the taking if they are recruited.
      And the so-called working class need a lot of stroking. I believe Trump will make many mistakes and disappoint many. If Democrats have some decent candidates, they will get elected. I agree it is sad that so many Republicans
      run unopposed. It will take time and work, but the Democratic Party will rise again.

    • Rex Visigothis

      One might imagine, without qualifying entirely for unicorn search party duty (ed note: but almost….) a jurisprudence springing from the guarantee of a “republican form of government” that would find the midnight session of alterations to the fundamental levers of power ultra vires, even while granting that the same result could have been expected over Cooper’s veto–(They just didn’t want to have to pay even the tiny political price that might have entailed…)

      • Rex Visigothis

        The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, […]
        This clause, sometimes referred to as the Guarantee Clause, has long been at the fore-front of the debate about the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the government. The Guarantee Clause mandates that all U.S. states must be grounded in republican principles such as the consent of the governed.[13] By ensuring that all states must have the same basic republican philosophy the Guarantee Clause is one of several portions of the Constitution which mandates symmetric federalism between the states.
        The Constitution does not explain what exactly constitutes a republican government.

        • Rex Visigothis

          “…its limitations”

          Exactly–that’s why I prefaced my remarks with a reference to unicorns–(for clarity, here the “unicorn” in question would be a Supreme Court that considered the right to vote more important than the sensibilities of local jurisdictions.–reference Shelby)

          • Rex Visigothis

            yeah–they are mythical beasts, just like Supreme Court Justices who care more for intellectual honesty than the interests of the party to which the President who appointed them belonged.

    • Rex Visigothis

      I was kinda cryptic–I was “pivotting” from your description of Roberts, who has not been utterly immune to a sense of shame in the face of Republican excess ( implicating (largely silently…) the historic refusal of the Court to reach into state governance, except for the examples that wikipedia mentions, eg. reconstruction.

      I raised this because having an already-adjudicated-to-be-tainted-by-gerrymander legislature ram through obviously partisan structural rearrangement of state government adds insult to injury. We are getting screwed substantively- the truncating of a Democratic Governor’s prerogatiives, and procedurally-the short notice.

      The argument against court intervention, though, is strengthened if we are forced to admit that the only detriment to the Repugnants’ odious power grab if a court were to rule all of these McCrory signed changes void, is that they would be obliged to pass them over Cooper’s veto which they no doubt can.

      That said, when the stank gets this rank, a disgusted justice might fashion a remedy (see what I did there?)

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