In case there was any remaining doubt, the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly have now made perfectly clear their gleeful contempt for democracy. The measures pushed through in this latest special session are a naked power grab with the specific and unmistakable intent of nullifying last month’s election.
To be sure, the bills that were passed contain a few provisions that are not inherently anti-democratic. Eliminating partisan control in the state and county Boards of Elections would be a laudable reform. Unfortunately, the change that was adopted merely erects a veneer of “bi-partisanship” without establishing truly independent, non-partisan oversight of our elections. Likewise, while stripping the incoming Governor’s authority over appointments reeks of partisan manipulation, that doesn’t mean that the existing allocation of appointment authority is sacrosanct.
Regardless of the merits, these are not matters that should have been resolved in a hasty special session. These are significant changes to the structure of state government, with potentially far-ranging implications. And there was no pressing emergency, save for the inconvenient fact that the people of North Carolina have elected Democrat Roy Cooper to replace Republican Pat McCrory in the Governor’s mansion.
The fact is that the Republicans, having gerrymandered the General Assembly to give them veto-proof control, can and will pass whatever bills they want. Some of the more egregious over-reaches may eventually be invalidated in court (at no small expense, financial and reputational, to this state). That they opted to move these bills in a cloak and dagger fashion, rather than waiting until the regular term, only shows that they feel some residual pang of shame.
This may be the last best hope for the people of North Carolina–Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike–who want a state government that actually represents us and addresses our needs. We need to raise our voices, on the phone and in the street, and let the General Assembly know that we will not stand for legislation by ambush.
(This is an updated version of a post by NC Piedmont DSA’s political education director, Eric Fink, for Yes! Weekly.)