Thursday, December 06, 2018

NC's Biggest Export Product: Republican Sour Grapes

Tim Moore and Phil Berger,
celebrating their own b.o.
If it ain't gerrymandered -- like a whole state can't be gerrymandered -- then Republican chances tank for winning an election in the Age of Twitterman. Which is why right now in Wisconsin and Michigan, lame-duck Republican legislatures are quickly rewriting the rules to snatch democracy out of the hands of the voters. They got the roadmap for how to do that from Phil Berger and Tim Moore, North Carolina's proudest politicians with teeth on edge. Sour grapes after losing an election will do that to you.

The cure for sour grapes -- at least in North Carolina -- has been a raft of Federal and state Superior Court judges who apparently take antacids. (Just yesterday, another Wake County Superior Court judge struck down another of their power-grabs.) The judges practice logic, common sense, and adherence to the constitution[s] and have neutralized many of Berger/Moore's most radical steps, with maybe more to come. Berger/Moore have counter-attacked with more acid -- "activist judges, legislating from the bench!" Yada, yada, yada, so pop another Gelusel.

The mass public protests we're seeing right now in Wisconsin and Michigan, aimed at Republican over-reach, those protests happened too in Raleigh in December of 2016, reactions to Berger/Moore's stripping of power from Roy Cooper a month before he could even take office. Majority Republican leges in the upper-Midwest are copying us in the craft of nullifying elections (but let it be recorded that Southerners were first!), and they're getting a dose of citizen protest that they've richly earned. In December of 2016, with Christmas looming in Raleigh, citizens began to mass on Jones Street for the special session Berger/Moore called, and naturally arrests were made. I believe the uproar reached the national media (but not like today, perhaps, in Wisconsin and Michigan). One particular NC Democrat (and citizen) published an editorial promising a stiff fight: "We're coming for you, NCGOP. You will be exposed. You will lose."

On the whole, they have lost, at least in North Carolina. (Stand by for legal action in Wisconsin and Michigan too.) But conservative radicalism doesn't always die like a bonfire doused with water. They keep sparking and threatening to roar back to life. We know from experience: Splash! a Democrat becomes governor in January 2017. Republicans grab power. Splash! Splash! and Splash! courts begin examining and overturning much of the December 2016 power-grab. Republicans continue to insulate themselves from accountability. Splash! Republicans lose their House and Senate supermajorities on November 6th. So we hold our breath as they convene yet another Special Session ... because even back on their heels, even off-balance, they still have a habit of overreach.

In the voter photo ID bill (H 1115 -- "Let North Carolina Vote Act") now moving through the NC House -- the enabling legislation for the constitutional pig-in-a-poke the people bought on November 6 without knowing its contents -- the ineffable Larry Pittman tried to amend the bill to eliminate college student IDs as acceptable forms of identification for voting, but that was rejected. That was yesterday.

On Tuesday, Gerry Cohen picked up on language added to the bill that appears aimed at out-of-state college students, mandating that they should be formally put on notice that they must declare their "intent to remain" in North Carolina (for the rest of their lives?). Gerry Cohen, who used to be a professional writer of laws for and in the General Assembly, commented, "What?"

In a completely separate legislative initiative, Berger/Moore are also and once again rewriting the state Board of Elections (SBOE) with H 1117, bending to the judges. So they're restoring the SBOE to 3-2 Democratic/Republican composition and county BOEs to 2-1 Dems to Repubs, but they say the local county BOEs must be chaired by Republicans in even-numbered years. Odd. Since the 3-judge panel that threw out their first rewriting of the BOEs specifically ordered, "You can't mandate a chair of a county board not of the governor's party." At least, that's my understanding.

(Not sure what difference it makes anyway. If a local board is 2-1 Democratic-Republican -- at least through the end of Roy Cooper's term in office -- the two Dems can overrule a Republican chair. Plus any two board members can call a meeting. The hitch will come with under-informed and unprepared weak Democrats appointed to county boards. Some of them think compromise -- any compromise -- is a golden mean to be prized, but no compromise that tampers with people's access to the ballot is good. Forsyth County Democrats on the Forsyth BOE compromised away an early voting site on the campus of Winston-Salem State, thus contributing to a poor showing on November 6th, compared to other NC urban counties.)

What will they think up next? Could be anything. They haven't announced an end-time for this present Special Session. Could be anything, but it will be something.

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