You’d have thought caring and thinking Americans would have learned the lesson once and for all when five conservative justices of the Supreme Court installed George W. Bush as President in 2000. More recently here in North Carolina, the message was delivered loud and clear by House Speaker Thom Tillis when he made plain his plans to “divide and conquer” his political opponents and then went about holding an unannounced legislative session in the middle of the night to punish groups who dared oppose his plans. And in just the last few weeks, a new chapter in the book of brazen, hardball politics was written with the selection of the state’s leading right-wing political spender as our new state budget director.
And still, it always seems to come as a shock each time the win-at-all-costs far right breaches yet another rule of common political decency, respect and courtesy. It’s as if the following thought process occurs over and over in the minds of progressives:
- “Well, at least we’ve got that problem contained. The conservatives will have to work to find common ground now.”
- “Did you hear what some reporter said the right-wing is considering? They wouldn’t do that would they?
- “Son of a gun! I can’t believe they did that! These people have absolutely no shame.”
The latest installment in this familar pattern occurred yesterday here in Wake County when the right-wing majority of the County Board of Commissioners, unhappy with the actions of the democratically elected school board, simply voted to change the rules — both with respect to the school board’s powers and how it is elected. As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported:
“Wake commissioners agreed to seek deep changes to the county school system Tuesday, voting to ask the General Assembly to sign off on a wish list that could change who owns schools, how they get built and how the school board gets elected.
In a string of 4-3 decisions that split along party lines, the Republican-majority commission voted to ask the legislature to allow county funding of some of the construction of charter schools. In addition, the commission asked to take over the land acquisition and school-building roles now in the hands of the school board.
The commission also sought to change the school board’s structure so that five members would be chosen by geographic districts and four selected at large. All are now elected by district.”
Of course, the changes don’t take effect immediately — the vote was to request legislation enacting them from the conservative-dominated General Assembly. And in a rational world (say, the one of 20 years ago), there might be reason to believe that such a blatant power grab would be viewed with skepticism by a state legislature charged with the responsibility of governing the entire state and not micromanaging each of its 100 counties.
But, of course, this is not 1993; it’s 2013. And in 21st Century America, the right-wing doesn’t take “no” for an answer; it is willing to spend or do whatever it takes — even changing the rules if necessary — to get the policy results it wants. And, sadly, the sooner progressives learn to expect and anticipate this kind of behavior as the norm and stop deluding themselves with the notion that the right will behave with some basic level of decency and fair play, the better.