The North Carolina GOP/KKK Never Got Over Obama's Win In 2008 In Their State
North Carolina is pretty evenly divided between supporters of a progressive vision of governance and supporters of a conservative or reactionary vision. Trump won the state last month— 2,362,631 (49.8%) to 2,189,316 (46.2%). Hillary won all 7 of the state’s biggest counties— Wake, Mecklenburg, Guildford, Forsyth, Durham, Buncombe and Cumberland. Trump won all but one of the state’s 20 smallest, backward, rural counties. But on the same day Trump won, divisive Republican governor Pat McCrory was beaten by Democrat Roy Cooper 2,281,155 (49.0%) to 2,276,383 (48.9%). Democrat Josh Stein beat Republican Buck Newton for Attorney General 2,276,553 (50.2%) to 2,256,025 (49.8%), progressive Democrat Elaine Marshall was reelected Secretary of State over Republican Michael LaPaglia 2,340,550 (52.2%) to 2,141,414 (47.8%). A Democrat won the state Auditor job but Republicans won races for Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner , Supervisor of Public Instruction and Agricultural Commissioner. A Democrat, Michael Morgan beat a dangerous far right psychopath, Robert Edmunds, for the Supreme Court opening, 2,134,650 (54.5%) to 1,785,437 (45.5%). These were all state-wide races and they were all very close.
What wasn’t close were the races for Congress and for the legislature, where theRepublicans drew districts that have been found unconstitutional by the courts and have ordered them to be redrawn a revoted in 2017. The state Senate has 34 Republicans and just 15 Democrats and the state House 72 Republicans to 45 Democrats. The congressional delegation is split 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats. The 3 congressional winners with the biggest wins were:
• G.K. Butterfield- 69%All three were Democrats. That’s because their districts were loaded up with African American voters with the explicit intent of making the surrounding districts whiter and less competitive, giving an edge to vile Republican racists who don’t want to compete for black votes. NC-13, for example, a newly drawn district, is surrounded by African-American voters on 3 sides but skillfully zigs and zags around them, creating a district that minimizes African-American impact and guaranteed a win for racist Republican Ted Budd with a 56.1% win over Democrat Bruce Davis. The bizarrely-shaped 1st and 4th districts were designed to make sure only Republicans could win in the 13th. That’s what “democracy” looks like in North Carolina in 2016. Neo-fascist billionaire Art Pope paid for it to look that way and the GOP has been happy to take his money and do his bidding.
• David Price- 68%
• Alma Adams- 67%
On Thursday the News & Observer published a widely acclaimed Op-Ed by UNC Professor Andrew Reynolds, renowned internationally for his work as a specialist in democratization, electoral system design and constitutional design. He has helped set up and supervise elections in countries attempting to transition to democracy— Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan. Yemen. His Op-Ed’s premise is that North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy, at least not by the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world, which he designed. “Our system,” he explained, “measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots.”
When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.
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.
Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that 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.
That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy— Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project— all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy.
The extent to which North Carolina now breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy.
First, legislative power does not depend on the votes of the people. One party wins just half the votes but 100 percent of the power. The GOP has a huge legislative majority giving it absolute veto-proof control with that tiny advantage in the popular vote. The other party wins just a handful of votes less and 0 percent of the legislative power. This is above and beyond the way in which state legislators are detached from democratic accountability as a result of the rigged district boundaries. They are beholden to their party bosses, not the voters. Seventy-six of the 170 (45 percent) incumbent state legislators were not even opposed by the other party in the general election.
Second, democracies do not limit their citizens’ rights on the basis of their born identities. However, this is exactly what the North Carolina legislature did through House Bill 2 (there are an estimated 38,000 transgender Tar Heels), targeted attempts to reduce African-American and Latino access to the vote and pernicious laws to constrain the ability of women to act as autonomous citizens.
Third, government in North Carolina has become arbitrary and detached from popular will. When, in response to losing the governorship, one party uses its legislative dominance to take away significant executive power, it is a direct attack upon the separation of powers that defines American democracy. When a wounded legislative leadership, and a lame-duck executive, force through draconian changes with no time for robust review and debate it leaves Carolina no better than the authoritarian regimes we look down upon.
…Practically we need to address the institutional failures which have cost us our democratic ranking– districting, equal access to the vote and the abuse of legislative power. An independent commission is the sine-qua-non of democratic districting (no democracy in the world outside of the U.S. allows the elected politicians to draw the lines). Voter registration and poll access should make voting as easy as possible and never be skewed in favor of any one section of society. Last, elected officials need to respect the core principles of democracy– respect the will of the voters, all the voters and play the game with integrity.