Commentary

NY Times columnist blasts McCrory’s behavior as emblematic of troubling national trend

If you get a chance, be sure to check out New York Times columnist David Leonhardt’s column from this morning comparing the post-election responses of President Obama and our own Governor Pat McCrory. One demonstrates how to handle an election defeat with class, grace and eye toward the common good, and the other — well, not so much. After describing how Obama has tried to defuse concerns about Russian interference and has gone out of his way to aid Trump’s transition, Leonhardt describes McCrory’s performance this way:

“McCrory went so far using his levers that a federal appeals court unanimously slapped him back. It threw out legislation he had signed to restrict voting access, saying it targeted African-Americans with ‘almost surgical precision’ and ‘discriminatory intent.’ Still, McCrory and his allies managed to take steps to make voting harder for many Democrats.

The mischief didn’t keep him from losing narrowly, and in the second act, McCrory initially refused to accept the outcome. He invented stories of “massive voter fraud” and spent weeks refusing to concede….

[Since then,] McCrory has signed two bills that strip his successor, Roy Cooper, of some powers.

The justification — a much smaller, long-ago power grab by state Democrats — is laughable. The Charlotte Observer called the changes breathtaking and arrogant. The News & Observer, of Raleigh, compared them to a coup.

In sum: McCrory tried to change the election’s rules to help himself; pretended he did not lose afterward; and is ultimately overturning some of the election’s consequences.

Leonhardt goes on to explain how McCrory’s troubling behavior appears to be emblematic of a growing trend amongst GOP politicians across the country who, more and more, are bringing bigger and badder weapons to political conflicts than their Democratic opponents.

“If he [McCrory] were merely a rogue politician, this story would be a local one. But too many Republicans elsewhere have begun to ignore political traditions, and even laws, to exert power. While Democrats continue to play by more genteel rules, Republicans have subscribed to the Capone school of politics (as Sean Connery fans can recite): ‘They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.’”

And here’s the on-the-money conclusion:

“The most important thing now would be for sober Republicans to stand up to their party’s radicalization, even if it meant leaving the party. Absent that, the big decisions fall to Democrats.

They need to understand that their opponents are changing the rules — and often benefiting. No, Democrats should not simply mimic the cynicism. For both moral and political reasons, they should defend small-d democratic values, which are, after all, American values.

But the party does need to get tougher.

In Congress, the Democrats’ threshold for working with Republicans should be higher than in the Bush years. The alternative would signal to voters, wrongly, that the G.O.P. was the less partisan party, because it could pass bipartisan bills. Around the country, Democrats should fight every restriction of voting rights and build grass-roots organizations in all 50 states focused on little-guy economic arguments. Dreaming wishfully of demographic destiny won’t cut it.

Anybody tempted to fantasize about inevitable Democratic victories should think ahead to 2020 — when the McCrory playbook may well be used not just in a state election but a national one.”

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