How the Democratic Party Can Save North Carolina
Democracy has died in North Carolina. I am shocked it has come to this. I wish it hadn’t come to this. It has come to this.
I am a registered independent. In my lifetime I have voted for two Republican Presidents and two Democratic Presidents. I have voted for 3 Republican Governors and 1 Democratic Governor. I have voted for 2 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic Senators. While I certainly lean left I recognize that there are good ideas on both sides of the aisle.
So, when you read what is about to come know that I am a reasonable person. I do not try to make divisions based on party lines. I believe firmly that both parties have a role to play in our American Democracy. Your instinct will be to shut down when you read this next hyper-partisan sentence, but I implore you to listen to reason and believe me when I say that I wish this was not the case.
The North Carolina GOP is the worst. They are killing democracy in North Carolina. Lead by Phil Berger and Tim Moore it is clear that they have no interest in the wants or needs of their constituents, but are only interested in maintaining power through shady legislative measures. They suck. I would deploy a litany of swear words here, but I want this to be something you can share with confidence. They suck. Did I already write that? Oh, well, it is deserved because they suck.
Okay, so the language of that last paragraph certainly brings my "non-partisan" chops into question, but it doesn’t make it not true. The North Carolina General Assembly, led by the NCGOP, has systematically trampled on the democratic will of the people of North Carolina through extreme redistricting, voter suppression, and shameless power grabs.
On the extreme redistricting: every single map drawn since 2010 has been overturned by a Federal Court. It is so bad that we have to hold special elections next year for our US Representatives.
On voter suppression: since the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was weakened by the Supreme Court the NCGA under the leadership of the NCGOP has attacked minority voters with racist Voter ID laws, reduced voting sites, and reducing Sunday early voting. It is so evident that they are trying to suppress minority votes that the NCGOP even celebrated it.
On shameless power grabs: this is some breaking news. Under the guise of Hurricane Matthew relief the NCGA (again, under the leadership of the NGOP) called a special session. In addition to passing a relief bill they passed legislation (signed by McCory) to limit Governor-Elect Cooper’s executive power. Not only is this dangerous as it threatens the separation of powers that is the basis of our very democracy, but it spits in the face of the voters of North Carolina. We elected Roy Cooper to serve as Governor with the understanding that he would wield similar legal and constitutional authority that Governor McCory had. We elected Governor Cooper to serve as Governor. Not a powerless chump. The session is a waste of tax payer money. The laws are a spit in the face of democracy. And now we will waste even more tax payer money as Cooper attempts to uphold our democratic will in court.
So, yeah, the NCGOP is the worst. They suck.
It is time for the people of North Carolina to stand up and demand better, but in order to demand better we need new leadership. The NCGOP has made it clear that they won't budge. That no matter what the people want they will do anything to solidify their power.
The problem is that this is not necessarily unique to the NCGOP. There are plenty examples, even in the state of North Carolina, of the Democratic Party also doing power grabs. Now, to my knowledge they have not been as severe as what the NCGOP is doing, but every party has drawn unconstitutional districts. Every party has passed laws geared at voter suppression.
But that doesn't mean the Democratic Party can't save us. Every single Democrat in the state running for a NCGA seat needs to make one simple campaign promise. They need to swear in a signed statement that they will re-draw competitive districts.
This won't work if one candidate doesn't buy in. Every single candidate for legislative office needs to make that pledge to the voters of North Carolina. Because here are the facts: our unconstitutional districts are not competitive and the NCGOP will never draw competitive districts. They will justify their stance by saying that the Democrats would have (and has done) the same things. Let's take that away with a unified party platform.
Every candidate needs to stand up and say, "My primary campaign promise to you is to give you the voter the power to hold Raleigh accountable. This starts with fair and competitive districts for the North Carolina General Assembly that makes every candidate for office earn YOUR VOTE. The system, as it is now, makes re-election an almost certainty. The only thing a candidate has to do is appease his or her party rather than serving the needs of his or her constituents.
"And when I say I want to draw competitive and fair districts I mean it and I mean it for every single seat in the General Assembly--including the one that I am seeking to earn right now. Gerrymandering along political lines is legal, but what is legal isn’t always right. Your representatives and senators should have to earn your vote. They should get their seat by their personal virtues and achievements not their party’s.
"I know I am a Democrat and many of the ideals of our national party may not line up with what you believe, but something that we can all agree on is that our democracy works best when the elected officials are held accountable to their constituents. I want to rebuild that system in North Carolina. I want your vote to matter. I may never win another election again, but that is okay. Right now North Carolina needs me. Not for my plans on education. Not for my social policies. North Carolina needs me because I will restore the power of the voter in our Democracy. With my colleagues in the General Assembly I will draw competitive districts so that no representative or senator has their seat guaranteed to them. They will have to earn. I will earn it too."
And that is it. Every single candidate sings a pledge to redraw fair and competitive districts. You can run state-wide ads saying that a vote for a Democratic candidate is a vote for Democracy.
This is the solution. The only hope for democracy is North Carolina is competitive and fair districts. We are a purple state and that should make us great, but under the leadership of the NCGOP it is dragging our name through the mud.