|Phil Berger and Tim Moore
Thomas Mills has written a good piece on what the NCGOP is currently undertaking in the North Carolina General Assembly (GA) -- another case of "overreach," of which the GA has a long and unhappy history -- unhappy for citizens subjected to unconstitutional measures but also unhappy for the NCGOP, because those measures attrack the disapproval of various judges. Sanctions, economic harm, loss of prestige -- all follow.
"Overreach." Historically, that same habit used to be called just plain "folly."
folly, noun -- criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct, often repeated despite known negative consequences and the presence of a less foolish alternative.
Thomas Mills: Back in 2013, instead of passing a sensible voter I.D. law that would have protected people’s right to vote while adding scrutiny, the NCGOP passed a sweeping bill that clamped down on access to voting while deliberately targeting African-American voters. The whole bill got tossed by the courts.
Folly is known for its inability to stop repeating a critical error. For the boys in Raleigh, it's always overreach, followed by a good slapping down by the third branch of government.
Mills: 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. [Tossed out by the courts. Twice.]
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. [Not yet tossed by the courts, but challenged.]
With the current special session, the GOP legislature is trying to restrict Cooper’s ability to govern while grabbing as much power as possible. [Will be in the courts as soon as it's passed. Roy Cooper has vowed to sue. And well he should!]
Short answer: An excess of power. That's historical fact, actually. Historically, when a ruler has had too much power -- like, say, one of those popes around the time of Michelangelo -- he believes he can do anything, damn the consequences! But consequences are usually unforeseen and rarely prepared for, and they always come.
Too much power is like too large a sail on too light a boat.
The folly of the corrupt popes of Michelangelo's age brought on the Protestant Reformation. In France, the follies of Louis XIV provoked the French Revolution and the dissolution of the monarchy. The follies of Lyndon Johnson forced him out of running for reelection. You might say the follies of "Four" Eggers led to the recent overthrow of the Watauga County Commission.
There are many such examples.
The NCGOP's current legislative folly is an unprecedented and cynical power grab intended to kneecap the duly elected governor, Roy Cooper. A coup d'etat, it's being called. Will the NCGOP pay for this folly? How?
We hear that the scene in Raleigh at the General Assembly -- hundreds of citizens of all ages expressing their protests and beginning to be arrested in acts of civil disobedience -- has actually rattled at least some Republicans. The level of anger is singeing the paint. Individual members of the GA are feeling a vibe like they've never felt before.
Many of them will presumably be up for reelection in 2017 in the court-mandated special elections in NC House and Senate seats that were ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered for racial disadvantage. At least 28 House and Senate seats have to be redrawn, meaning abutting districts will also have to be redrawn, and the dominoes will fall from there. May be twice that many seats up for election in 2017. All the seats will be up for election again immediately in 2018.
The stripping of powers from the new governor, the favors done the defeated governor, the monkeying with the courts and the state's boards of elections -- all of them -- all of this overreach is being seen for what it is. The people I know are angrier than I've ever seen them. I'm angry. I want to picket someone's house.
Historically, comeuppance always catches up with the fool eventually.