Editorial: The ‘Going Too Far Gang’ in Raleigh
No matter how great their victories, the Republicans leading the N.C. General Assembly have an insatiable hunger for more. They have repeatedly reached for additional powers and imposed new curbs on others’ authority. As the majority, that is their right — to a point. Time and again, the Republican leadership sabotages the will of its constituents by going too far.
Concerned about voter fraud, lawmakers decided to reach beyond passing a requirement that voters show a photo ID, as several states did successfully. Instead, N.C. legislators enacted what some called the most sweeping and restrictive rewrite of state voting laws in the nation, cutting early voting and ending other practices. A federal appeals court struck down the law, saying its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” to curb the black vote.
With a veto-proof supermajority, Republican lawmakers redrew congressional and legislative district maps to even further tighten their hold on government. More than once, their maps failed to pass constitutional muster. The latest ruling requires what is essentially a do-over next year on legislative redistricting and elections, after just holding those elections last month.
Then there’s House Bill 2 — not yet ruled unconstitutional but already causing economic damage. HB 2 not only restricts transgender bathroom use, but also bans local governments from passing laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The law set off a round of concert and tournament cancellations as well as industrial-recruitment reversals. The U.S. Department of Justice said HB 2 violates federal law, and ordered the state to stop enforcing it or lose millions.
Now the Republican-controlled legislature has set its sights on the governor’s powers. Smarting from Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s defeat, they passed measures during an emergency session last week to rein in Democrat Roy Cooper before he takes office. Even former Gov. Jim Martin, who as a Republican suffered similar treatment from a Democrat-controlled General Assembly, said lawmakers went too far last week by taking away the governor’s right to appoint trustees to UNC system schools.
Throughout much of this political maneuvering, Republicans have defended their actions by saying Democrats used the same tactics. So much for the moral high ground. Republicans have proved that politics is politics, regardless of party. Their chicanery has come to overshadow their accomplishments.
North Carolina could have required voter ID this year if lawmakers had not weighed down the law with other restrictions. Elections would be over now if the redistricting maps had been drawn fairly.
Only a concerted effort by voters who reject current legislators’ over-reaching conservatism can make them stop. The “Going Too Far Gang” gained power under redistricting maps drawn by Democrats. To break the gang’s grip on the state, moderate forces have to regain power under maps drawn — and redrawn — by Republicans.