The last several weeks have been almost as troubling for the N.C. GOP as they have for Donald Trump. With a number of our state legislature’s ill-conceived actions on voting rights and the redrawing of district maps now facing federal blowback, it seems some rather large and ungainly chickens are finally coming home to roost.
Last Thursday a trio of judges ruled that 28 of North Carolina’s 170 state legislative districts are unconstitutional “racial gerrymanders” and ordered the legislature to redraw the maps.
The ruling came less than a week after Common Cause, a public advocacy group, sued the state over alleged racially gerrymandered congressional districts.
Two weeks earlier, a separate trio of federal judges struck down a host of North Carolina voting restrictions, including voter ID requirements, cuts to early voting, and the banning of same-day voter registration.
While it’s undeniably true that state Democrats, during their decades-long legislative reign, engaged in the same gerrymandering shenanigans as their current GOP counterparts, the judges’ findings in the voter ID case raise the specter of purposefully racist intent by Republican lawmakers.
Federal judges found that our state legislatures acted with “discriminatory intent,” in imposing the voter ID requirements. They also found that the legislature requested racially specific data on the use of electoral mechanisms, then restricted those they found were disproportionately used by blacks — early voting, same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.
To be fair, our state lawmakers never really attempted to hide their true aims. The state actually argued in court that “counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic,” and said it did away with Sunday voting as a result.
“Thus, in what comes as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times, the State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race — specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise,” the judges wrote in their decision.
Combined with their recent actions on the HB2 transgender bathroom law, these debacles leave me with one overwhelming impression of North Carolina’s current Republican leadership: a group of inexperienced, unruly teenagers left alone for a weekend who decide to party like there’s no tomorrow and trash the house, with little thought to what will happen when the parents come back.
And that’s where we are now. The parents have arrived and the reckoning is nigh. I guess we’ll know soon enough if the kids’ excuses are clever enough to mollify their federal overlords or if there’s some severe punishment in store.
Speaking of unruly children, Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s day-glo despot, has also had to face some rather harsh realities lately. After falling behind in national poles, even in states that were previously considered safely red, it appears the kind of anything goes, I’m-rubber-you’re-glue campaign that worked in the primaries isn’t quite what most Americans expect from their would-be president.
But then Trump has always been treated as a ‘special’ child, one whose actions are measured on a different scale than the other, more well-adjusted kids.
As a measure of just how degraded a standard Trump is held to, let’s imagine Hillary Clinton uttering these words about her general election rival during a campaign rally:
“Donald wants to ban, essentially ban, Muslims from entering the country. By the way, and if he gets to pick—if he gets to pick his judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Sharia Law people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
I suspect the backlash would effectively destroy her presidential bid as well as any future political career. Yet when Trump makes remarks about “the Second Amendment people” (a phrase that betrays his utter contempt for those very people) taking action against Clinton, it’s shrugged off as “sarcasm,” just The Donald being The Donald.
Unsuprisingly, many of our state’s Republican lawmakers, including Governor Pat McCrory, have come out in support of Trump. I suspect that’s another decision they’ll have to answer for, and live down, in the months and years to come.