Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Rob Schofield: The Tide Is High


Rob Schofield

Rob Schofield had some hard truths about Phil Berger, the president pro-tem of the NC Senate and the biggest dick in the NC General Assembly. Back before he had all the power, Berger had famously introduced a bill to do away with partisan gerrymandering. Then 2010 happened, and Berger found a new religion that didn't include the reform of gerrymandering.

So how did Berger react to the NC Supremes' okaying of extreme partisan gerrymandering?

With a degree of venom matched only by his hypocrisy, Berger wrote: “For years plaintiffs and activist courts have manipulated our Constitution to achieve policy outcomes that could not be won at the ballot box. Today’s rulings affirm that our Constitution cannot be exploited to fit the political whims of left-wing Democrats.”

You got that? A politician who abandoned a supposedly principled stance on a central tenet of our democracy [sponsored a Republican bill to end partisan gerrymandering], and then shamelessly and relentlessly used every lever of power at his disposal for more than a decade to rig electoral outcomes, silence opponents, and enfeeble other elected officials while seizing their power (and even to install his son and namesake on the Supreme Court) is purporting to lecture on the subject of “manipulating the constitution.”

All in all, the [Supremes'] rulings and [Berger's] bluster were enough to make a body fear for, and mourn the state of our democracy, and to wonder if all hope for reviving it – at least in North Carolina had passed.

Rob Schofield has been an important voice for North Carolina progressives for decades. From 1992 to 2005, Schofield worked as an attorney at the NC Justice Center – where he helped build the organization from a small Legal Services office into the state’s leading anti-poverty advocacy group. When the Justice Center branched out with "a special news and commentary project" called NC Policy Watch, Schofield spun off to it and became Research Director. Policy Watch published The Progressive Pulse, with Schofield as both opinion columnist and an executive editor of content. The Progressive Pulse has very recently gone through a major upgrade into NC Newsline, in which appeared Schofield's gloomy reflections quoted above.

But Rob, like any progressive-minded American in history, snatched some hope, kinda out of thin air:

…Americans of all ages … are sick to death of the kind of extremist lawmaking that’s practiced in the … North Carolina legislature; we might just be a lot closer to the end of the current dark era than the beginning.

And when the reactionary house of cards does collapse of its own weight in the not-so-distant future, we may well look back on the events of recent days and realize we were witnessing the moment at which the toxic right-wing tide crested and started to recede.

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