North Carolina has faded into the second tier of American political attention. Since its Obama-era heyday, the Tar Heel State has voted Republican too consistently to register as a marquee swing state, and most observers have shifted their gaze to the bluer states of Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin. In fact, this is completely misguided. What’s happening now in this state brings together all the forces making our public life into a pathological tangle.
At the end of last week, the Republican state Supreme Court quelled democracy forces in North Carolina. For decades activists have fought the abuse of extreme gerrymandering, which is more rampant here than anywhere else in the nation. Reversing the duly issued decision of their Democratic predecessors, the partisan court freed its fellow Republicans to draw election maps with minimal constraints. These justices simultaneously approved Voter ID requirements and overturned voting rights for thousands of newly enfranchised voters. It was a cutting stroke against democracy in a state where self-governance was already imperiled.
The court’s Republican allies are going to conduct a loopy petri-dish experiment in far-right governance. Already they plan to force the University of North Carolina system to bow to complete political domination. Professors would lose tenure, opening the way for a purge of left-leaning faculty, and the hacks these legislators have appointed to university boards would also be empowered to dictate curricula to the few faculty who chose to tolerate this interference. Public schools, too, are set for fundamental transformation. In a move lifted from Milton Friedman’s fantasies, the GOP plans to divert billions of dollars to school vouchers for every family in North Carolina including billionaires. They call this a “backpack model,” with the privileged headed out the schoolhouse door.
North Carolina, in other words, could become a right-wing dystopia. But in response the Democrats are not supinely accepting the implosion of the social contract. The party has elected a 25-year-old Chair named Anderson Clayton. Forceful and determined, Clayton has a plan to make the party a more potent and effective resistance movement. North Carolina may not yet have changed enough, demographically, for Democrats to win the state on a consistent basis, but under Clayton the party will fight much, much harder.
If this sounds like a raging brawl, you’ve discerned the pitch correctly. And it’s easy to lament the loss of comity in North Carolina. This noble bromide, however, rests on a false view of state history. The original Carolina was founded by slave traders from Barbados, and North Carolina has always had fierce battles for its political soul. The framework for North Carolina’s 20th-century politics was formed by the violent overthrow of Wilmington’s city government–a fin-de-siecle January 6. Hopefully the tone of North Carolina politics will mellow when debates over justice and citizenship give way to a more egalitarian consensus. For now, though, we’re the most interesting state in politics.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.
Gerrymandering, mentioned by Jones is the practice of redrawing electoral districts to give an advantage to a political party. The political party in this definition would be the Republicans as they currently control the legislature.
What is Gerrymandering and what does it look like: Gaming voting district maps with the intent to create an advantage for one party over another. The manipulation involves two concepts: “cracking” (diluting the voting power of the opposing party’s supporters across many districts) or “packing” (concentrating the opposing party’s voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts). The result is Republicans have more voting districts that support their candidates.
What does Gerrymandering look like on a voting district map? The term was attributed Governor Gerry who , as governor of Massachusetts in 1812, signed a bill that created a voting district packed with folks who supported his party. The district took on the shape of a salamander. In NC if one looks at the current voting district maps, you will see a voting district with the head of the salamander in Concord, and the tail somewhere near Fayetteville. There are numerous NC voting districts that look like salamanders. The only relationship two areas have to each other is they are strong Republican. But the interests of a voter in one area may be different from the voter in another, but that does not concern the Republicans controlling the legislature. Their only interest is to retain control. There is nothing original or ingenious about gerrymandering is just another way Republicans can write laws giving their fat cat contributors tax breaks and funnel money into the pockets of Corporate educational operations. If you’re a Republican there is nothing wrong with that scheme, but than not all voters are Republicans.
In 2020, “North Carolina had about 7.8 million voting-eligible adults and 7 million registered voters.” The break down is follows:
• “2,537,032 or 36% were registered Democrat”.
• “2,344,632 or 33% were registered unaffiliated.”
• “2,104,881 or 30% were registered Republican” and
• “47,334 or 0.7% were registered to another party”
Clearly in Gerrymandered voting districts there are a lot of folks who are disenfranchised. Their vote will mean nothing as to who represents them or how their taxes should be spent. This is not democracy.
Special Note: this posting was not done using three-dollar words. I am not trying to impress anybody with big words, just facts.
For over two hundred years, voter ID was not required to vote. Now, now unexpectedly, in the last several years, Republicans are obsessed with writing laws requiring voter ID. This is yet another attempt by Republicans to muddy the waters, so the facts are not clearly discernible.
Fact: Republicans tend to lose elections where more folks vote. So, limit the number of voters, by disenfranchising older and poor voters who may lack the so-called picture ID, the greater chance Republicans have of winning!
Case in point: A 95-year-old Second World War veteran twice denied an absentee ballot under a restrictive Texas voting law. Kenneth Thompson can serve his country in a shooting war, but he cannot vote in Texas as he lacked the paperwork to prove his identity. Thompson said he voted for years prior to the passage of this draconian Republican legislation.
Republicans argue, Voter ID reduces or limits the chances of voter fraud. A solution in search of a problem!
FACT: WRONG! “Brennan Center has conducted a study on the matter and found incident rates of fraud between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent, “meaning that an American is more likely to be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls:” Its report also concluded that most reported incidents of voter fraud are traceable to other sources, such as “clerical errors or bad data matching practices.”
The number of voters prosecuted for voter fraud is less than one half of one percent. The number convicted is about one half of those prosecuted. So, it is safe to say that voter fraud is not out of control in the United States, nor has it ever been.
Is there fraud? Yes, but not being practiced by Democrats.
Examples of fraud, the notion that Trump was prevented from winning the 2020 election by Democrats rigging the Dominion voting machines.
Wrong: Reference Dominion v Fox case and the numerous other cases filed on behalf of Trump by Rudy Giuliani alleging fraud, tossed out of court.
Side Note: I was able to write this without using one three-dollar word!
Sigh. This article is disappointing. So much wrong so many lies.
Republicans seem hell bent on destroying any possibility of this state appealing to companies seeking to establish well-paying manufacturing facilities. Corporations with the resources to build these facilities do not pick locations where social conflicts and bigotry could affect their ability to hire and retain employees. Moreover, have gutted their public schools in favor of an educational system that makes money for their investors, but does little to prepare their students to meet the demands of a complex world.
The problem becomes acute when the higher educational system fails to turn out physicians, engineers and teachers who will employ their skills in NC rather than move to more enlightened states. These well-paying manufacturing jobs will be placed in states that do not have backward, hateful policies. Republicans would be thrilled if they could move the clock back to when slave traders used this state as a warehouse for their product.
You know I think you would help your case and not appear like a loon if you would stop tossing around hyperbole. It makes all Democrats look retarded. No wonder your are losing elections in the state. Look at what you said.
People in NC are Bigoted, Backwards, Hateful Racist wanna be slavers that are unenlightened?
Yeah that’s TOTALLY reasonable.
You seem to hate everyone around you. Why not move to a place where you can be happy? Its obvious you don’t like it here. .
Good Lord this article is bad. Who are you writing for? Who is your audience?
Anyway. I’ll parse…. “…extreme gerrymandering, which is more rampant here than anywhere else in the nation…” False statement, probably due to ignorance. For the record The Republicans of NC were NICE and GAVE seats to Democrats the did not deserve. They literally reached across the aisle. Then the NC supreme Court (A partisan Court) threw it over and the Democrats got more seats than they should have. The New ( Partisan ) supreme court put it back. If I were Republican’s I’d take every single seat and now give the Dems NOTHING EXTRA since their “gift” was thrown back in their face. And there are WORSE gerrymander places. If you paid attention when it was going on you’d know IL and NY did some really horrendous maps that were punitive to the GOP and definitely do not reflect the electorate there. So I guess turn about is fair play.
“…approved Voter ID requirements and overturned voting rights for thousands of newly enfranchised voters. It was a cutting stroke against democracy in a state where self-governance was already imperiled…” I don’t know if its racist ( De po black man ain’t got no ID and to stupid to git one”) or delusional. Likely both I guess. Voter ID just makes it more difficult to cheat. and assures on;y registered voters vote. Nothing more nothing less. Its a non issue.
“…Professors would lose tenure…” A lie. If passed as written, HB 715 would eliminate tenure for faculty hired on or after July 1, 2024, at public two- and four-year colleges and universities in the state. So if you HAVE tenure NOW you keep it. You just won’t be able to get it in the future. Which is good, because 99% of college professors aren’t doing ANYTHING that requires tenure. They are not taking risks and pushing anything that they need the protection.
“…opening the way for a purge of left-leaning faculty…” And this is bad how? Why should a professor have ANY bias at all? They shouldn’t. This is a good thing even though its not the bills intent.
“…and the hacks these legislators have appointed to university boards would also be empowered to dictate curricula to the few faculty who chose to tolerate this interference…” Oh God forbid… the high anointed ones have any scrutiny. Don’t look behind the curtain. You’ll see! Ridiculous. Sheesh! UNC will be fine. Go take a Valium. So emotional.
… Public schools, too, are set for fundamental transformation. ( God Forbid!) In a move lifted from Milton Friedman’s fantasies,( That’s Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman ) the GOP plans to divert billions of dollars to school vouchers for every family in North Carolina including billionaires. ( of which there are only 3 all self made.) The Horror! here is the link. https://www.themountaineer.com/news/state/richest-billionaires-in-north-carolina/collection_730d801c-ecf4-5328-aaee-227b3e4369bc.html They call this a “backpack model,” with the privileged headed out the schoolhouse door….” A lot to say about this but in the end its their money. Not North Carolina’s so they should be allowed to do with it as they wish. Or NC can up its game fix its mess and get ready to compete! but it sounds like you guys have already conceded before you even took the field.
…”North Carolina, in other words, could become a right-wing dystopia…” Lol laughable hyperbole.
…”The party has elected a 25-year-old Chair named Anderson Clayton. Forceful and determined, Clayton has a plan to make the party a more potent and effective resistance movement….” Because democrats are never willing to actually WORK WITH Republicans its ALWAYS A fight. With the exception of education in which we’ve already given up (see above) but this plucky girl She’ll get em!
….”North Carolina may not yet have changed enough, demographically, (it has) for Democrats to win the state on a consistent basis, but under Clayton the party will fight much, much harder….” Because, ya know, all we have is hyperbole and outrage!
The rest is twaddle trying to justify violence. Just remember NC is a castle doctrine, stand your ground, and concealed carry state And hopefully a Constitutional carry state soon. and there is no Soros DA in Raleigh at least. so you’ll do your time! and I know the cops didmn’t play games the LAST time you goof started something.. Just sayin’
However, please do try to keep the riots to downtown Raleigh but don’t break anything ok? Leave the business owners alone they have nothing to do with anything. Perhaps Durham or Chapel hill will actually help and encourage you! Al least until you step on some leftist professors lawn!
I hear Portland is nice..
Jones’ unhinged bombast and hyperbole has become predictable!
So…legitimizing Voter ID—a referendum item which was already approved statewide by ALL voters, but overturned by one single Governor—represents (in YOUR eyes) a ‘disenfranchisement’ of registered voters…??? In YOUR eyes, it’s entirely OK for ONE person to overturn the expressed will of an entire state of voters?? And you call THAT ‘democracy’?? Do you even KNOW the difference between what a democracy is, and what a constitutional representative republic is?
And, please—DO tell us how—in your words—reinstituting Voter ID ‘overturned voting rights for thousands of newly enfranchised voters’. Who ARE those ‘newly enfranchised voters’ of whom you speak? Because, if you are speaking about legitimate, provable North Carolina voters, then what is your problem?? THEY certainly won’t be ‘disenfranchised’!
If, however, you are talking about ‘voters’ for whom identification data is sketchy at best, I can fully understand your fright. After all, if non-citizen voters are prevented from voting, that sure screws up your entire Democrat voting bloc, now, doesn’t it?? Gee.
And don’t preach to us about Republican gerrymandering, either. The NC Democrat Party is famous for its own absurd and bizarre district line drawings! You ain’t got nuthin’ on the Republicans over THAT issue.
Also, since you’re having such a case of the vapors over education, I will point out to you (as I did elsewhere, in another comment I posted) that just recently HUNDREDS of UNC Chapel Hill professors signed a letter opposing HB 96. This bill, if enacted, would require a course in U.S. Civics to qualify for graduation from any of the state supported universities or colleges, and from the state’s community college system. It entails a three-credit-hour class in which students would be required to read the following texts (as noted in ‘carolinacoastonline.com’):
“The Constitution of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence. The Emancipation Proclamation. At least five essays from the Federalist Papers, as determined by the instructor. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. The Gettysburg Address. The North Carolina State Constitution.”
In other words, reading and researching the textual material that is central to American history, our republican form of government, and the fundamental political philosophy which undergirds our political system! Is this too much to ask of students who will eventually become leaders in North Carolina?? Apparently, this is beyond your comprehension, and just like the disturbed professors at UNC, you are terrified by the scary notion that students might actually leave the school with a working knowledge of the founding principles and philosophies which shaped our constitutional republic! Wouldn’t want educated and informed voters, now, would we??!! I’ll look forward to the usual rancid replies….