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Friday, December 16, 2016


NCGOP: Ruthless is as ruthless does

by Tom Sullivan

A former state lawmaker tells me Republican colleagues encountered in the halls of the North Carolina state legislature yesterday tried to avoid discussing the rolling coup the NCGOP is conducting. Their brush-off? "I'm not in leadership." No, they are in followership. Evil really is banal.

Having lost the governor's mansion to Democrat Roy Cooper, Republicans in special session have introduced measures to cut Cooper off at the knees before he takes office. The efforts are as devious as they are clumsy. The New York Times Editorial Board calls it a brazen power grab:

... Republican lawmakers introduced bills to, among other things, require State Senate confirmation of cabinet appointments; slash the number of employees who report to the governor to 300 from 1,500; and give Republicans greater clout on the Board of Elections, the body that sets the rules for North Carolina’s notoriously burdensome balloting.


This legislative power grab is the latest underhanded step by a state Republican Party desperate to stay in power in a state where demographic changes would normally benefit Democrats. Republicans in North Carolina, a presidential battleground state, have used aggressive redistricting and voting suppression measures that are among the most brazen in the nation to win elections. The courts have blocked some of these efforts, but Republicans have found workarounds, for instance, by limiting voting hours and sites.

“I think they’re doing this because they think they can get away with it,” said Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina.
Cooper, the sitting state attorney general, has threatened to sue.

Jamelle Bouie calls the effort "a new nullification crisis," something the South and North Carolina have seen before:
The Republican Party of North Carolina in 2016 isn’t avowedly white supremacist or openly opposed to the participation of black Americans and other disfavored groups. It isn’t a replica of that older iteration of the Democratic Party. But in this age of backlash, it has been captured by a similar spirit of reaction and illiberalism. And while the aims are different—partisan control for right wing, ideological reasons—the means are very familiar: disenfranchisement of blacks, attacks on the machinery of elections, insinuations of fraud, attempts to usurp the voters themselves.

The trouble is that if this spirit of nullification and white tribalism—this spirit of Confederacy—has captured the former party of Lincoln, then history suggests its hold may last for decades. Jim Crow government held sway until the 1960s, when it fell in the wake of the Civil Rights movement and our second Reconstruction. If unchallenged, disenfranchisement works. And under President Donald Trump, there’s little chance of challenge; soon the federal office tasked with protecting voters will be held by a man who supports the effort to suppress the vote.
Gov. Pat McCrory's overreach on the anti-LGBT HB2 cost him his job, but only by 10,000 votes. Still, not an insignificant achievement in a state that went for Trump for president. But had the courts not intervened to strike down much of the state's 2013 vote suppression law last summer, McCrory might have squeaked by, as his colleagues well know.

To Bouie's point ("if unchallenged"), as I wrote yesterday, massive resistance is about the only play North Carolina progressives have left. Democrats don't have the votes. Next year they won't have the U.S. Supreme Court or the Department of Justice either. If Republicans get their way, they will dominate state and county Boards of Elections as well. But the Moral Monday/Forward Together fusion movement the NC-NAACP led successfully to defeat McCrory is not going anywhere. They were there last night being arrested again for civil disobedience:

Saturday February 11, 2017 (10 a.m.) is the tentative date for HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street), an annual march and rally in Raleigh led by NC-NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II. There were at least 30,000 people when I attended last in 2014 (local media reported 80,000) to protest Pat McCroy and the NCGOP's voter suppression efforts. Weather permitting post-Trump inauguration, it could be massive enough in 2017 to draw national press that ignored it then.

Forward Together will be at the legislature on Jones Street again today at 10 a.m. EST this morning. The way to successfully challenge the ruthless? Be relentless.