Personal agendas cannot trump the people’s agenda

So much of the news cycle has revolved around the courts recently — with arguments concluding over North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case and a three-judge panel weighing in our the legislature’s racial gerrymandering case.

With all the troubling, divisiveness that Republicans in the legislature have stirred up since they gained the majority six years ago, they have put the people’s agenda on the back burner in order to pursue a dangerous personal agenda.

That agenda is tied to a series of personal vendettas that have since been played out against Attorney General Josh Stein, Governor Roy Cooper and anyone else with differing ideologies.

Their time in the majority has tested our democracy in a way that we have never seen before. Despite best efforts, the architects of our system of government anticipated this; and the system has ultimately protected the public interest as it was intended to do.

In the past six years, Republicans have had 14 of their most damaging laws struck down in court: from gerrymandering to voter suppression efforts.

After their personal agenda was successfully challenged in court, Republicans are now taking direct aim at the judicial branch itself.

This has been building for some time now, with subtle changes to the courts, starting with the elimination of public financial support for judicial elections, eliminating three seats on the Court of Appeals to block the Democratic governor from making any appointments, making judicial elections partisan, cancelling judicial primaries, redistricting judicial maps to block minorities from serving on the bench and, now, reducing judges’ term to two years.

There is a panicked frenzy surrounding all of this because, regardless of party affiliation, our judges have respect for the Constitution and the three-branch form of government that keeps out of control legislators in check. Judges are refusing to put party before the law.

When your agenda doesn’t hold up in a court of law, then it’s time to reconsider your agenda.

It all comes back to this: we have spent an exorbitant amount of time in Raleigh focused on Republicans’ personal agenda — and not even an agenda of varying ideologies on the economy, environment and education. We have been back in session 15 times since this long session ended in June. Every day has been focused on how Republicans can wrangle more power from the hands of the people.

The Democratic Party’s agenda is broad — we sometimes get criticism for that — because we have so much that we want to achieve on behalf of future generations.

If you assess the bills filed by Senate Democrats in the most recent session, you can see what we intend to do when we break the super-majority in the General Assembly.

Last session, my colleagues filed 17 bills to strengthen public education; 15 bills to strengthen the economy; 12 promoting social justice; 10 addressing public health issues; six bills on poverty and living wages; six on tax reform and fiscal management; and four to protect democratic integrity. Most of these bills never saw the light of day.

Republicans’ legislative agenda cannot be disputed; they have laid it out clearly for all to see.

It’s about power. The accumulation of power without regard for the system of government under which we operate that is constructed in such a way as to prevent any one person or group from amassing too much power.

It is easy to see why people have such a hard time trusting their government. As it turns out, Republican legislators don’t trust the people either.

In our system of government, the power doesn’t belong to one group or another. It still belongs to the people.

Our court system has ensured that power remains where it should be. Though they may try, Republicans in the General Assembly will find that this system of government won’t tolerate their personal agenda.