Tea-Publican tyranny: a GOP legislative coup against democracy in North Carolina

Daily Kos has the best summary of this past week’s truly disturbing events in North Carolina that somehow merited barely a mention in the GOP-friendly media here in Arizona. As the New York Times warned years ago in reference to the Watergate scandal:

JackBootedThugsIf political tyranny ever comes to America, it is likely to arrive not in the guise of some alien ideology such such as Communism or Nazism but as a uniquely American way of preserving this country’s traditional values. Instead of tyranny being the dramatic culmination radical protest and revolution, it can come silently, slowly, like fog creeping in “on little cat feet.”

Daily Kos reports, North Carolina Republicans execute legislative coup against democracy itself:

Last month, Democrat Roy Cooper unseated Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, while Democrats also gained a majority on the state Supreme Court, breaking the Republican stranglehold on North Carolina’s state government. Now, though, Republicans have used the pretext of a lame-duck special legislative session—ostensibly convened for disaster relief—to advance a slew of measures that radically curtail the authority of the governor and even the high court itself. This nakedly partisan plot is unprecedented in modern state history. Indeed, you have to go back to the 1890s to find a parallel, when reactionaries violently introduced Jim Crow after a multiracial coalition of progressives briefly won power.

The scope of the GOP’s war on democracy is stunning. In this special session, Republicans enacted a new law that removes the governor’s party’s control over all the state and county boards of election. That same measure also makes previously nonpartisan state Supreme Court races into partisan contests and requires state constitutional challenges to first go before the Republican-dominated state Court of Appeals. The legislature has passed another bill awaiting McCrory’s signature that would require state Senate approval for the governor’s cabinet appointees. This bill would also slash the governor’s number of executive branch appointees from 1,500 to 425 and eliminate the governor’s ability to appoint members of the state Board of Education and the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees.

Under McCrory, Republican legislators had already put North Carolina on the front lines of the battle against voting rights. Almost immediately after the United States Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, McCrory signed America’s most sweeping voter suppression law in half a century, which included a strict voter ID requirement, the end of same-day registration, and cutbacks to early voting opportunities. Republicans literally ordered data on which voting methods black voters used more and eliminated them. The law was so extreme that a federal court said it “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision” when it struck it down in July.

Republicans had previously gerrymandered the legislature so aggressively that they won veto-proof majorities in 2012 despite losing the popular vote, and they easily maintained them in 2016 despite McCrory’s loss. A court in 2016 struck down those maps as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, meaning that North Carolina Republicans are using an illegally obtained legislative majority to usurp the powers of the fairly elected new Democratic governor. Democracy relies on electoral losers recognizing the legitimacy of the victor, and this breathtaking power-grab can only be described as a full-blown legislative coup designed to subvert democracy itself—and reinstate a new era of Jim Crow.

The Daily Kos summary goes into great detail on how Tea-Publicans in North Carolina have systematically engaged in a coup against democracy in order to maintain their control over power. You should read the entire post.

Paul Waldman at the Washington Post warns, The GOP coup in North Carolina previews what we’re going to see everywhere:

There’s a kind of coup going on in North Carolina, one that tells us a lot about just how far Republicans are willing to go to hold on to power and undercut Democrats.

Here’s what’s happening: After a close election, Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory to win the governorship. So the Republican state legislature decided to call an “emergency” session before Cooper takes office and strip the governor of as many powers as it could.

The bills Republicans are pushing through the legislature would, among other things, cut the number of appointments the governor can make by 80 percent; make his cabinet appointments subject to state senate confirmation; transfer authority for the state board of education from the governor to the superintendent (a Republican ousted a Democrat this year in the election for that seat); move the authority to appoint trustees of the University of North Carolina from the governor to the legislature; and dilute the governor’s control over the state board of elections and mandate that the board will be chaired by a Democrat in odd-numbered years (when there are no elections) and a Republican in even-numbered years (when there are elections).

And they’re barely bothering to pretend that if a Republican governor is elected in four years they won’t just reverse most or all of these changes.

This isn’t just hardball politics. This is a fundamentally anti-democratic approach to government, one that says that when we win, we get to implement our agenda, and when you win, you don’t.

Hmmm, just like Senator Mitch McConnell’s total obstruction policy of “just say no” to everything proposed by Democrats and President Obama for the past eight years. This isn’t something new.

To put this in context, perhaps nowhere in the country have Republicans moved more aggressively to solidify power by disenfranchising their opponents as they have in North Carolina. Immediately after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Republicans enacted a voter suppression law that “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision,” in the words of the appeals court that later struck it down. The district lines already give the Republicans an enormous advantage: In 2016, Republicans outpolled Democrats in North Carolina congressional races by a margin of only 53-47, yet they held 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats.

The situation in the state house is similar: In this closely divided swing state, Republicans enjoy supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature because of aggressively gerrymandered legislative districts that pack African-Americans together in order to dilute their power. The districts were declared unconstitutional by a federal court earlier this year, and the state has been ordered to redraw them and hold special elections next year. But in the meantime, in this year’s election Republicans won 56 percent of votes to the state senate, yet controlled 35 of the chamber’s 50 seats. In the state house the results were similar: Republicans won 53 percent of the votes, yet hold 74 of the 120 seats.

[T]here’s a shamelessness to the way Republicans change rules, trample over long-established norms, and generally act as though any result except one in which they win is inherently illegitimate. And that’s the fundamental principle that guides them. As far as they’re concerned, Democratic votes are not real votes and therefore can and should be suppressed; elections in which Democrats win can only have been stolen; and elected Democrats are usurpers against whom no tactic of subversion is out of bounds.

* * *

In the next few years, Democrats are going to be up against versions of the North Carolina model in every state where Republicans have power and at the national level as well: efforts not just to implement Republican policy goals but to change the rules to make it as difficult as possible for Democrats to win. It has already been happening for a while, and it’s only going to accelerate.

Sinclair Lewis warned of such tyranny in his semi-satirical novel It Can’t Happen Here in 1935. It not only can happen here, it already is happening, coming silently, slowly, like fog creeping in “on little cat feet” to a GOP-controlled legislature near you.

8 responses to “Tea-Publican tyranny: a GOP legislative coup against democracy in North Carolina

  1. For Sure Not Tom

    I hate Dark Money because it means I don’t know who is bribing the people I’m voting for, period.

    If the local power company is supporting candidate A because they want to raise my rates, even though they’re incredibly profitable, I think voters should know that.

    Dark money corrupts democracy and the free market. That power company is guaranteed a profit and no longer needs to innovate. That should be a conservative free market viewpoint and I don’t understand why you would be against it.

    I’m for limiting campaign donations, even from unions. In fact, I think money in the Democratic party is part of the their problem right now.

    Bernie Sanders proved you could run a campaign on small donations, refusing PAC money. Trump proved you could be outspent what, two to one, and still win.

    A corporation, or union, that cannot vote should not have a louder voice in my government than you or I, same for billioniares.

    Out of state billionaires, like the Koch’s from Kansas, shouldn’t have any say in Arizona politics. They’re buying votes in DC and don’t care about AZ. How is that not a conservative “states rights” thing?

    Some on the right, like Sean Noble and Justin Pearce, think that if I know who is giving money to a candidate, I may not support that business. They call it “political free speech” and not only should it be protected, there should be more of it.

    That’s a pretty twisted view of free speech. Speech is protected from the government, not from consequences, and you’re darn right I’m not going to support someone working against my best interests.

    That would be stupid.

    Wells Fargo robbed its customers and no one will go to jail. If I robbed Wells Fargo I’d be in prison.

    That has nothing to do with your “feelings” about corporations, the shareholders get paid and the CEO resigned with 120 million, that’s not a penalty. Not all of the people blacklisted were committing the crimes, lots of them were blowing the whistle, they were the good guys and they’re paying for the crimes of Wells.

    Until shareholders feel the pain for corporate crimes, and until some guys in suits get sent to prison, we’ll keep being robbed by banks and corporations.

    And lastly, OMG, there was a huge cry about dark money in the last election, and the one before that and the one before that. It was half of Bernie’s platform. You don’t hear about it because the right wing media won’t call it out and the mainstream media is owned by the corporations giving the dark money.

    And Steve, I say this as a friend, I wish you wouldn’t keep saying things like “I’m not seeing this” or “I’ve never heard of this”.

    What do expect from statements like those?

    Nevermind people, Steve’s not “seeing this” so it’s not a real problem. Go about your business.

    • “That has nothing to do with your “feelings” about corporations…”

      Of course it doesn’t…don’t you remember you asked me about my feelings regarding corporations. I just answered your question…

      “That should be a conservative free market viewpoint and I don’t understand why you would be against it.”

      Why do you think I am in favor of “dark money”? I am most certainly NOT in favor of it! It is an abomination. But it exists and I don’t want the GOP penalized by the democrats because the democrats aren’t that good at using it. The democrat party did pretty good at it this year, so mainstream democrats didn’t have much to say about it. Now that you mention it, I do recall vaguely that Bernie did speak out against it, but Bernie did not get much public play anywhere. His voice was not widely heard.

      “And Steve, I say this as a friend, I wish you wouldn’t keep saying things like “I’m not seeing this” or “I’ve never heard of this”.///What do expect from statements like those?///Nevermind people, Steve’s not “seeing this” so it’s not a real problem. Go about your business.”

      What do you expect from me? If it it isn’t being discussed widely or it isn’t being written about, how am I supposed to know about it? More importantly, how is the average person ever supposed to know about it? I am not going to spend a lot of time on Google for fun and profit. I have a have a big family, fun hobbies, good friends and there are too many things in my very enjoyable and busy life for me to hunt up obscure references on the internet in order to be informed to level you seem to be. If I don’t know something I am not going to lie and pretend I do, I am just going to say I have not heard it. The “people” are free to do as they wish. I am not trying to be a “center of influence” or a “policy maker” or a “thought leader”. I simply enjoy offering my opinions and arguing interesting points. I apologize if I have ever lead you to think anything else.

  2. michael moore had it right on chris hayes show as they watched a wimp liberal democrat legislator whine about what the g.o.p. in n.c. was doing. saying this was unfair! really? moor said we need to elect tougher democrats. stop voting for alan alda and start voting kick ass democrats. many years ago 1992 I was supporting congressional medal of honor winner bob kerry for president. after pat schroeder droped out for lack of money. a democratic woman who was supporting bubba clinton told me kerry was to macho and reminded her of her ex-husband! I said but bubba is a lounge lizard. she said so? I understand loge lizards. we need to elect tough democratic as well as tough democratic women like sen. warren.

  3. It is interesting to me what Constitutional scholars democrats are becoming now that that they are desperate and how adamant they are about “original intent since the world has collapsed on them. The Constitution has always been a document democrats walked on and shredded with their philosophy that it is a “living document” that means whatever they want it to mean.

    Despite your rosy memory of what democrats did when they were in power (or how you chose to see it at the time), the truth is that for thing the GOP is doing, there is a paralel to something the democrats did when they held power. The GOP tightens voter laws, the democrats loosen them to a ridiculous degree.

    Having said that, it is remarkably short sighted of the North Carolina GOP to pass all these laws limiting what the democrat governor can do because someday it will be a Republican governor and he will have to live with the laws the GOP put in place. It is just plain dumb to put restricyive laws in place that will haunt you later.

  4. For Sure Not Tom

    Arizona is the Southwest Subsidiary of Koch Industries, and North Carolina is wholly owned by billionaire Art Pope.

    After he bought the state, he installed himself as McCrory’s budget director.

    Nothing happens in NC without Art Pope’s approval.

    Along with “Money is Not Speech” and “Corporations are Not People”, we need to teach people that “Billionaires are Not Jesus or Thomas Jefferson”.

    • “Along with “Money is Not Speech”…”

      Tell that to the democrats, the most successful money raisers in the Country. They raise it based on the need the get “the word” out about policies, candidates, and the evils of conservatism. To democrats, “money is sure as heck speech”.

      “…and “Corporations are Not People”…”

      Who seriously thinks of corporations as people? You would have to be a dunce to think that. However, besides doing as the law has done and holding corporation accountable for taxes and compliance with the law as if you were dealing with a person. It is very simple, in the case of legal malfiesance, to pierce the corporate veil and go after the flesh and blood human beings who actually made the decisions for the corporation. It is a remarkably simple system that works. How would you do it better?

      “…we need to teach people that “Billionaires are Not Jesus or Thomas Jefferson”.”

      Really? This is another of your straw men you create in order to argue a point that nobody was making. I have never read nor heard of ANYONE thinking of Billionaires as Jesus or Jefferson…or Washington or Bhudda or anyone else.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        “Money is not Speech” refers to the unlimited amounts of dark money poured into our political system from a few right wing donors, many of them criminals. Before you pout about George Soros, it would take 20 Soros’ to equal the Koch’s, and for every left leaning billionaire there are 200 leaning right. Don’t pretend you don’t know this.

        Your Arizona GOTeaP reps call unlimited dark money “political free speech” and demand more because they’re corrupt.

        Mitt Romney thinks corporations are people. He told me so.

        Corporations commit crimes on massive scales and the penalty is a monetary fine, a fine that’s always a small part of their earnings and planned for in their business plan. This is behind the meaning of Corporations Are Not People.

        Do a deep dine into Wells Fargo’s latest crimes, then get back to me on how you feel about corporations. People have lost homes, jobs, they’re blacklisted from working, all from a corporate initiative they followed at risk of being fired. No one will be jailed for the bank robbing its customers, but if I rob a bank…

        To your last point about being off topic, I’m just pointing out who owns North Carolina for some background. Their state government is not owned by the voters.

        If more people understood where the money that supports the GOP came from they might not be so ready to support the GOP. I understand why you would want to suppress that idea.

        • “Before you pout about George Soros, it would take 20 Soros’ to equal the Koch’s, and for every left leaning billionaire there are 200 leaning right. Don’t pretend you don’t know this.

          I don’t know any such thing. According to the latest Forbes listing of World’s Billionaires, Charles Koch is #9 at $39.6 Bilion, David Koch is #10 at $39.6 Billion, and George Soros is #23 at $24.9 Billion. That hardly makes the Koch Brother 20 times richer than Soros. As far as who contributes to what, the same issue of Forbes states that the number of Billionaires (like Gates, Buffet and Soros) who contribute to left leaning causes outnumbers Billionaires who contribute to right leaning causes by almost two to one. Hardly the reverse 200 to 1 ratio you describe.

          The truth is that liberal causes never hurt for money. I always like to remember the 2000 Los Angeles democrat Convention when regular delegates had to walk more than a mile from where the busses parked because all of the closer parking lots were jammed up with millionaires limousines. A real party of the people, don’t you think?

          “People have lost homes, jobs, they’re blacklisted from working, all from a corporate initiative they followed at risk of being fired. No one will be jailed for the bank robbing its customers…”

          People at all levels lost their jobs, from the CEO on down, which was the right thing to do. If these people lost their homes and are blacklisted from working in the field (something I am skeptical about since I have not seen this mentioned anywhere else) then they got what they deserved. You probably missed it, but I mentioned in these pages that I was one of the people who had accounts and credit cards opened without my permission. I was extremely angry and was pleased to see people lose their jobs over it. If you are in a job where your employer requires you to do something blatantly illegal and you do it, then you are no better than your boss. There was no subtlety to what they did, it was flat out illegal and they knew it. They, too, were crooks.

          But it didn’t change my opinion about corporations. Corporations are neither good nor bad…it is the people who run them that are. Don’t give up waiting for criminal accounting where Wells Fargo is concerned. The Law moves slowly, but things are moving and I expect there are some people who were involved in the Wells Fargo fiasco who are sweating bullets waiting for the hammer to fall.

          “Your Arizona GOTeaP reps call unlimited dark money “political free speech” and demand more because they’re corrupt.”

          I have never heard of a politician that demand more money, regardless of the Party. The reason democrats hate “dark money” is because Republicans appear to get more of it. As soon as democrats figure out how to do it better, the fuss will go away.

          Like this year. Did you notice that this election there was no big cry about “dark money”. Could that be because of all the 501c(3)s that supported liberal causes and ran anti-Trump ads this election did so without citing the source(s) of their money. When Republicans do that, it is the evil “dark money”. When democrats do it, it is “public spirited” funding. Look up the definition of “dark money” and tell me how it is different when a liberal 501c(3) does it…