Commentary, Defending Democracy

Charlotte Observer blasts “startling hypocrisy” of NC GOP

Be sure to check out today’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer.  In “The startling hypocrisy of N.C. Republicans,” the paper highlights the utter absurdity of state Republican claims that the latest North Carolina legislative maps drawn by federal court special master Nathan Persily amount to “race-based redistricting.” Here’s the Observer:

“We’re not sure if those Republicans are short on memory or long on gall, but just in case it’s the former, here’s a brief and recent history on voting, race and the party in power in North Carolina:

Before enacting our state’s 2013 voter ID law, Republicans requested and received data on the use, by race, of several voting practices. They learned, for example, that blacks disproportionately lacked photo IDs issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and that blacks used early voting – especially the first seven days of early voting – more than whites.

With that information, lawmakers changed an existing voting bill to exclude the IDs blacks did possess. The new bill also killed the first seven days of early voting, and it made other changes targeting blacks. It was disenfranchisement done with ‘surgical precision,’ said federal judges in a blistering ruling that struck down the voter ID law.

Two years before, in 2011, Republicans drew the legislative districts that ultimately are being redone by Persily. Those lines targeted minority voters by adding them to districts where blacks already had considerable clout. That, effectively, diluted their voting power.

Republicans have insisted that they were simply following the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by making sure there were black-majority districts. Judge upon judge – including U.S. Supreme Court justices who sent the case back to North Carolina for another look in 2015 – haven’t bought that excuse.

All of which has led us to special master Persily, who has until Dec. 1 to get judges the final draft of his districts. His first draft surely made individual legislators in both parties uneasy, as some would be ‘double bunked’ – forced to run against other incumbents in redrawn districts. But no one, including N.C. Republicans, has come close to establishing that Persily is targeting a particular racial outcome, which the law would forbid.”

The editorial concludes by surmising that what Republicans are really upset about is the idea “that any outsider is redrawing districts” and, indeed, that he is drawing fair districts.

Maybe, but here’s another possibility: Republicans are simply sticking to the ultra-cynical, Trumpist game plan of using every possible opportunity to rouse whites to political action with not-so-thinly-veiled allegations of favoritism for people of color. In this case, allegations of “race-based redistricting” from the people who actually perfected it is not so much a legal strategy as it is a scurrilous political tactic lifted straight out of the “alt-right” white nationalist playbook.

In other words, welcome to the latest installment in the sordid world of American politics in the age of Trump.

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