Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Old North State Electoral Armistice of 2018

The Treaty of Paris 1783
(first published in North State Journal 9/5/18)

The election process in North Carolina is broken.

More specifically, the process in-between elections is broken. Too many lawyers. Too many lawsuits.
Too many unelected judges inserting themselves into what is constitutionally a legislative issue.

For the past 30 years, North Carolinians have seen what happens when both sides ignore the basic tenet of a theory made famous during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, “MAD” or “Mutual Assured Destruction”:

‘The purpose of MAD is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons in the first place’.

People have unleashed every imaginable legal weapon in North Carolina to challenge every redistricting map and every election since 1982.

It is time to call a truce. Call it ‘The Old North State Armistice’ if you want.

Headlines in recent newspapers have blared out:

“North Carolina's congressional districts unconstitutionally gerrymandered, federal judges say”
“Governor Roy Cooper to legislators: ‘Expect further legal action’ on constitutional amendments”

Can we all agree to get back to the days where legislative districts are drawn by the state legislature and people in those districts can get to know their elected representatives for more than 1 election cycle?

The US Constitution is clear about who has the right to draw congressional and legislative districts after every decennial census: the state legislatures.

The Founders did NOT give that crucial apportionment power to the President; Congress, US Senate, any state governor or any unelected member of the judiciary, including the US Supreme Court.

They could have. But they didn’t. They purposefully gave that critical power to the duly-elected members of each state legislature.

As much as you might abhor Republicans now in power, remember you already have the ultimate ‘impeachment’ tool of any elected official at your disposal:

Biennial Elections.

The Founders realized that times change, people change and young adults grow up with the changing dynamics of life. They realized the best way for a democratic republic such as ours to accommodate such change would be to give voters the ability to change their elected representatives with the most power, Congress and the state legislatures, as often as possible.

Two years is a short period of time to tolerate the abhorrent policies of the opposing party, no matter how bad you might think they are. Many on the right honestly are shocked the country survived 8 years under President Obama.

Take it from someone who toiled in the salt mines of the minority party for over a decade in Congress from 1985-1994.

Being in the minority by 85+ votes stinks, plain and simple. It is degrading; it is depressing and it is painful.

The Republic survived. Somehow.

Being in the minority builds resolve to do whatever it takes to win the next election. Maybe it is organization. Maybe it is fundraising. Maybe it is changing positions on issues that matter to the voting public.

In 1975, there was just 1 GOP senator fighting against 49 Democrats in the state senate and just 9 Rs vs 111 Ds in the NC General Assembly.

Now that was a prime example of extreme partisan gerrymandering given that North Carolina had voted statewide for Republicans Richard Nixon for President in 1968 and 1972 and Governor Jim Holshouser and Senator Jesse Helms in 1972.

In 1994, despite the best efforts of Democrats in 1991 to gerrymander legislative districts nationwide including North Carolina, Republicans scored a massive electoral upset and took control of Congress for the first time since 1954 – 40 long years.

In 2010, despite the best efforts of Democrats for over 100 years to keep Republicans in the deep minority, Republican leaders out-organized, out-raised and out-spent Democrats to take over control of the NCGA, despite the gerrymandering accomplished in 2001 by the Democratic majority.

Biennial elections will work.

Let’s agree to lay our legal swords down and let voters do their constitutional function.

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