Loading...
http://super-sound.shopcool.ru АБСОЛЮТНО БЕСПРОВОДНЫЕ BLUETOOTH НАУШНИКИ (АНАЛОГ AIRBEATS) Беспроводные наушники с...

Uncompromising approach puts democracy at risk

N.C. Legislative Building

The North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh.

Loading…

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

North Carolina achieved a dubious honor earlier this year. Two Harvard professors named the state an example of what America in the post-Trump era in America may look like — a place of politics without guardrails.

In a book titled “How Democracies Die,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt examine how democracies unravel and point out that in the 21st century they rarely end in swift bloody coups. More often they die slowly at the hands of autocratic elected leaders determined to retain power.

Two norms have undergirded American democracy and helped it avoid the partisan fight to the death that has destroyed democracies elsewhere in the world, they write. Those norms are toleration (competing parties accepting one another as legitimate rivals) and restraint (the idea that politicians should exercise restraint in deploying their institutional prerogatives). These have served as the soft guardrails of American democracy. But today, Levitsky and Ziblatt say, those guardrails are weakening.

Though lawmakers in other states are guilty too, North Carolina’s legislature, in their view, represents the best example of this.

North Carolina Republican lawmakers have tried to intimidate and undermine state courts, take control of the elections board, gerrymander districts for the express purpose of electing as many Republicans as possible and diminish the power of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Their efforts represent exactly the kind of behavior that Levitsky and Ziblatt write about, the autocratic impulse to sacrifice democracy in order to hold on to power.

The North Carolina Republican in charge of drawing new district maps, Rep. David Lewis, justified the Congressional maps that were rejected by a three-judge federal panel in January by saying, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

In a democracy, it is not Rep. Lewis’ prerogative to decide what is better for the citizens of North Carolina. That would be the voters’ prerogative.

Lewis freely admitted that he ordered the districts drawn to elect 10 Republicans and three Democrats because he did not believe they could be drawn in such a way to elect 11 Republicans and two Democrats — this in a state where 38.9 percent of voters are registered Democrats, 30.3 percent are registered unaffiliated, and 30.3 percent are registered Republican.

Lewis’ comment suggests a lawmaker who does not see Democrats as legitimate rivals, but as enemies that must be defeated even if that means gaming the system.

GOP lawmakers’ efforts to undermine state courts are perhaps even more treacherous. Already, they have made non-partisan judicial elections partisan and reduced the size of the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12, depriving Gov. Cooper of the opportunity to replace three retiring members. A new raft of bills aimed at intimidating judges includes one that would reduce all judicial terms to two years and one to redraw district and superior court judicial districts in a way that, according to analyses by NC Policy Watch and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, would disproportionately harm voters of color and Democrats.

Though Democrats also have tested the guardrails, Levitsky and Ziblatt say the current win-at-all-costs era began with the hardball tactics of Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich who schooled fellow Republicans that they were fighting a war for power and used over-the-top rhetoric calling his opponents “corrupt,” “sick,” “anti-American” and “anti-family.” It also is true that rapidly changing technology, demographics and economic trends have contributed to the two underlying forces that Levitsky and Ziblatt believe are driving American polarization: racial and religious realignment and growing economic inequality.

Autocrats can exploit these forces to their advantage in their quest to become ever more powerful. If we, as citizens, hope to preserve our freedoms and our say over who holds power in our state and country, we can’t sit on the sidelines. Finding solutions to the challenges we face won’t be easy, but we should be wary of deploying the tactics that have brought us to this place.

Democracy is about compromise. But in our polarized atmosphere, we seem to have forgotten that.

Carolina Commentary

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence has lingered over North Carolina. The storm’s initial rain, high winds and storm surge-flooding has been followed by even more rain, swollen creeks and rivers along with impassable roads from interstates to neighborhood drives.

Cities like Wilmington — not merely…

Tropical Weather North Carolina-4

September 18, 2018

"The youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply," Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday, as he issued the federal government's most forceful warning yet that these electronic nicotine-delivery devices are hooking a generation of teenagers. He promised that…

Flavored Vaping Sales Ban

September 17, 2018

America shouldn’t be in the coup business. Period.

It’s a relief, then, to learn that the Trump administration chose not to aid rebellious leaders in Venezuela seeking to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. But it’s worrisome to think that President Trump and his advisers…

Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

September 14, 2018

Over the past few decades, there has been a proliferation of criminal statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties at the federal level. As Congress debates criminal justice reform, mens rea reform should be on the table.

For years, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has introduced and called for…

Trump Finance-3

September 13, 2018

It is tremendously sad and horrific to think about the forthcoming disaster and what it could bring to our communities and our neighbors to the south. We did nothing, really, other than live like we always have, to bring this on ourselves. Nevertheless, it is here.

Hurricane Florence, a major storm…

091218Sandbagging-4.jpg

September 12, 2018

You can add the name Jordan McNair to the list of college, high school and middle school players who might have needlessly died for the love of football.

A simple, well-known procedure — immersing McNair, 19, in a tub of ice water — when he collapsed at an off-season University of…

082918ECUFootball-5.jpg

September 11, 2018

By now, few might lift an eyebrow at President Trump’s crusade to delegitimize his own Justice Department and, specifically, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. It long ago became clear that Trump regards federal law enforcement — as he sees all of government — as a political…

Trump Sessions

September 08, 2018

Republican state lawmakers decided last week to investigate the Cooper administration’s slow response to Hurricane Matthew relief in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas. That could be a useful exercise, if our legislators use what they find to fix real problems, and they don’t…

090518Cooper-HilmaGreens-2

September 07, 2018

When all of the state’s living former governors, including Pat McCrory, and all of the state’s former chief justices, including arch-conservative I. Beverly Lake Jr., come out against something unanimously, chances are it’s a bad idea.

Even the General Assembly had to notice…

North Carolina Ballot Battle

September 07, 2018

If President Donald Trump hadn’t bragged at a campaign rally in Alabama that if he were an NFL owner, he would fire any “son of a bitch” who knelt during the national anthem, would Colin Kaepernick be a face of Nike’s Just Do It campaign?

Would a black-and-white image of…

Kaepernick Nike
103 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»