In case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out the joint News & Observer/Charlotte Observer editorial entitled “What Republicans stole from North Carolina.” In the essay, the authors laud the recent court ruling striking down the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps, but blast the state’s GOP lawmakers for the years of treachery — treachery they describe as a “political crime” — that made it necessary.
Here’s the fine conclusion:
But the tilted maps didn’t just steal the integrity of elections. They stole what North Carolina used to be. Under a Republican super-majority, we became a state that once again jumped to discriminate against its residents, one that was no longer was a model for environmental programs and successes, one that occupied the headlines and late-night jokes that used to be reserved for other states.
Fair maps — and fairer elections — might have changed some of that.
We likely wouldn’t have had Amendment One, a law that made North Carolina the last state to discriminate against gays and lesbian by banning same-sex marriage.
We may not have had HB2, a harshly discriminatory law that cost the state its reputation along with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investment.
We certainly wouldn’t have had a supermajority of Republicans regularly overreaching with laws that courts struck down, and breaking legislative norms and rules so that they could push through an agenda without opposition.
That arrogance was especially on display with gerrymandering. Not only did Republicans rig legislative and congressional maps, they did so brazenly and with the belief it was appropriate because Republicans should be leading North Carolina. It’s the kind of self-affirming blindness that comes when there aren’t enough people to tell you no.
There’s little reason to believe Republicans wouldn’t try to get it all back if they achieved a new supermajority in the General Assembly or a majority on the state Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on partisan gerrymandering. So while you should be angry about the injustice afflicted on our state, you also should be vigilant. The maps will be fairer this next election, but the stakes will be just as high.
Click here to read the entire editorial.