A bleak visionTrans Progressive Thursday, January 5th, 2017
Commentary: Trans Progressive
“Phil Berger, the powerful Republican leader of North Carolina’s Senate, couldn’t stop the debacle,” wrote Jonathan M. Katz for Politico in the article In North Carolina, Some Democrats See Their Grim Future. “A state law that effectively banned legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people – a law he’d pushed through the statehouse less than a year before – had become such a national embarrassment that even he wanted to see it repealed. But the far-right members of his caucus, happily ensconced in ultra-safe Republican districts he’d help draw, saw no reason to back a full repeal, and what was supposed to be a last-minute deal with the incoming Democratic governor fell apart.”
In response, Berger said “I cannot believe this,” about being unable to wipe clean what the Katz called “the stain still indelibly affixed to his state’s reputation,” as well as Berger’s reputation, but he should’ve believed it. Gerrymandering districts to create Republican supermajorities in both legislative houses – when only a third of North Carolina’s residents are registered Republicans – and well over half of the seats are in incredibly safe districts, the legislators have no reason to compromise. Its one party rule to the point where one can no longer consider North Carolina “small d” democratic.
Andrew Reynolds, in his recent article North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy, stated “In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.
Katz writes that the lesson here may be about overreach by the party in power. The difficulty with that lesson is that it will take voters voting out those who’re overreaching – those who’re currently in incredibly safe districts – to send that message effectively. What would it take for those in power in a functionally authoritarian state to lose their power?
Is this what we do in the United States now? In much of the country, will parties in power, with the use of sophisticated software not available in decades past, gerrymander districts so much that legislators create district maps that create one party rule that lasts for decades at a time?
Apparently so. And with HB 2 – anti-LGBT legislation with an emphasis on transgender women’s bathroom use – at the core of the social agenda of this one party rule in North Carolina, this could be a bleak vision of what one party, socially conservative rule could do in other states.
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