Viewpoint

Mockery of democracy

From an editorial Saturday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly have once again abused their power by infringing on the rights of people to elect their government officials as they see fit.

Under a bill that initially failed in the House, but was passed after a GOP caucus meeting, Greensboro City Council districts would be changed. Instead of having at-large and district representatives, the council would be divided into exclusively district races. The mayor would lose some voting power. New districts would force incumbents to run against each other, including four current minority council members. Thus, minority representation would likely be reduced. As with other redistricting curiosities in this General Assembly, legal challenges await.

Running all this mischief, perhaps at the behest of her leadership, is Republican Sen. Trudy Wade, a former Greensboro council member.

Republicans, when in the minority for decades, often complained about Democrats ramming through whatever their leadership wanted, and playing hardball to do so, with secret meetings and all sorts of arm-twisting. It would now appear the GOP leadership is trying to master that unfortunate art, but they’re pretty clumsy at it.

So let’s not have Republicans defending this insult to democracy by whining that the “Democrats did it all the time.” The Democrats most certainly were inclined to have their way no matter what, but they didn’t jump into local redistricting. Even Gov. Pat McCrory, a fellow Republican, has argued that too many policy issues are becoming part of the budget debate.

And these excesses are coming from GOP lawmakers who vowed they would do things differently. Never speak of your commitment to open government again, ladies and gentlemen. You’ve made a mockery of it.

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