UPDATE (12/24). Don't take it from me. The Electoral Integrity Project, which monitors and rates elections internationally, scored North Carolina. It wasn't pretty. A sample from the report, as cited in the linked article:
"On the measures of legal framework and voter registration ... on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela. When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project."
As Nietzsche said, "that which does not kill me, makes me stronger." The late poet and diarist Jim Carroll added that "my version is, that which does not kill me, makes me sleep until 3:30 the next afternoon." We can add now: "that which does not kill me makes me cheat until well into the evening of a special session."
ORIGINAL POST: I had been going to do a post called “If You Think You’re Going to Lose, Cheat. If you Lose Anyway, Cheat Some More” in response to last week’s special NC legislative session, which was enough to cement the NC GOP as one of the worst governing bodies in the country. Today, however, they surpassed themselves. A quick review is in order, as the NC legislature makes Wisconsin look well and transparently governed. For that matter, the level of shenanigans and corruption is starting to make Zimbabwe look well-governed.
For those who don’t recall (I’ve blogged on it several times here if you need a refresher), Charlotte passed a fairly standard set of LGBT protections last year. These included employment protections, and rights for transgender individuals to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Something like 200 cities and states have comparable protections. But here, in North Carolina, this event constituted an emergency that required the immediate passage (special session!) of infamous HB2, which overrode Charlotte’s ordinance, required transgendered individuals to go to the bathroom matching the sex listed on their birth certificate, and made it illegal to expand employment discrimination protection beyond the levels described in HB2, which conspicuously avoided mention of LGBT. In short, it was an omnibus LGBT hate bill. Aspiring Governor Roy Cooper, then Attorney General, refused to defend the blatantly unconstitutional (under Romer v. Evans, at a minimum) in court. Governor Pat McCrory and aspiring attorney general Buck Newton ran on their support for HB2. Both lost, probably for that reason.
This week, Charlotte’s City Council, for reasons which indicate that they slept through the entirety of last week’s explosion of bad faith in the legislature (more about that in a moment), repealed the Charlotte ordinance, accepting an offer by the GOP to repeal HB2 if Charlotte made the first move. I’ve studied Hobbes, and I know what happens to first movers in the state of nature, and it happened here: the GOP duly called their special session on HB2, and then refused to repeal it. Newton, who seems to have proven that time travel forward from the 13th century is possible, managed to complain today, in a case of complete amnesia concerning his recent defeat, about ordinances the “lunatic left of the city of Charlotte and other places want to enact.”
Last week, facing the loss of the governorship and the Supreme Court (in a second electoral surprise in a miserable year, the state supreme court went from 4-3 Republican to 4-3 Democrat, and that race wasn’t particularly close), the legislature decided that it needed to “stay relevant,” apparently of the opinion that veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers constituted irrelevance (apparently only despotic dominion is relevance). I can’t begin to describe adequately what happened next (Mark Joseph Stern makes a good effort here and here and here), but suffice it to say that in one day they managed to pass a bunch of laws designed to weaken the governor and Supreme Court, over the loud protests of hundreds and hundreds of people (some of whom were arrested, and some of whom were kicked out of the galleys, apparently for laughing when some GOP member claimed their legislation was to “take the politics out” of whatever provision they were talking about). The most risible of these various emergency measures (more special sessions!) adopted without public hearing, debate, etc. established that county election boards were to have equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, with Republicans being in charge on even-numbered years (i.e., all election years, although, in evidence in support of the proposition that God has a sense of humor, not this year, when they have to have more elections. I bet the new law waits until 2018.). Among other things, the GOP also stripped the Governor of his ability to make appointments to the UNC system board.
How did we get here? In a word, 2010. The GOP won the governorship when unpopular democrat Bev Perdue suddenly decided to drop out of the race (shortly before the primaries, so the democrats had no chance to pick a viable candidate, though that probably would have done no good), and the GOP national wave came through here as well. 2010 being a redistricting year, the Republicans got to work on that project and some serious voter suppression. Their voter suppression has been, one will recall, overturned by the 4th Circuit for its “surgical precision” in targeting minority voters. Just how bad is it? In both 2012 and 2014, more people voted for Democrats in the U.S. House in NC than for Republicans (in 2012, about half a million more Democrats than Republicans voted in NC). Yet somehow the Republicans have a 9-3 advantage in representatives. There has to be another election in 2017, because the Courts ruled that there wasn’t enough time to redraw districts for the 2016 elections. At least the Democrats have a reason to go to the polls now!
So: if you think you’re going to lose, cheat. If you lose anyway, cheat some more. Then screw over the LGBT community, just because you can.