The bird’s here because I like it.
A few days ago I spent some time studying the Constitution of the State of North Carolina.
First off, what a horribly worded, backward looking, antiquated document, especially the last few lines, the result of the now infamous Amendment One referendum of May, 2011. You know, that’s when the Neanderthals among us managed to codify their bigotry and homophobia in our state’s highest law, but enough about that, I’m here to fry other fish today.
I was reading to find out all I could about the make up of our General Assembly, specifically, how many members comprise each house, and what are the rules for selecting them and defining their districts?
In 2010, the NC party of “Grasping Oligarchs and Plutocrats,” as my friend Woody so refers to the Republican Party, found themselves in charge of redistricting our state’s electoral districts.
We all know how both major parties are guilty of trying at every possible turn to rig districts in their favor while minimizing the influence of Democratic (meaning Black) voters. It’s called gerrymandering and it is and has always been an ugly, blatantly crooked practice, and I dare say, un-American.
Anyway, in 2010 the NC-GOP finally found itself in the driver’s seat, and after decades of finger pointing and crying about Democratic Party abuses of that power, they decided two wrongs would make right – right wing extremist government that is!
And so it came to pass that in November of 2012 an election was held in North Carolina, and just over 50% of the votes cast in North Carolina were cast for Democratic candidates, but instead of a slim majority in both houses of our legislature and our Congressional delegation, roughly two-thirds of the seats in our state house and senate are now occupied by conservative Republicans, as are nine of our thirteen seats in the US House of Representatives.
Rumor has it the rats in charge of pulling off this crime have acknowledged their wrongdoing and promised to use a non-partisan, third-party to redefine districts in 2020, but we have what amounts to an illegitimate government in this state today, due to extreme gerrymandering. This is a crime, not a simple mistake to be fixed when the cycle next comes around. If it’s a good idea to fix this shit in 2020, wouldn’t it be even more ethical and right to do it now?
Ah, but that’s just it, the Republican Party of North Carolina cares nothing for what’s right or just or ethical; all they care about is power, and they are blatantly abusing it. I can’t sit by and watch this travesty play out or leave it to my children and hope they fix it themselves someday.
So I went looking, to see what I could learn about the rules of the game, and I found this, from Article II, Sections 3 and 5 of our state constitution. Sub-section 3 of both sections says, “No county shall be divided in the formation of a representative/senate district.”
Anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention should already know that nearly every county in this state has been carved up and sub-divided six from Sunday to preserve GOP hegemony. I’d guess that more than 75% of districts fail to meet this simple, one sentence rule.
It seems to me that on constitutional grounds alone the 2010 districts are illegal. Crimes have been committed against every citizen of this state. Some might even go so far as to call it treason, and I could easily be persuaded they’re right. It looks like it’s time to hold some feet, and perhaps other body parts, to the fire in Raleigh and demand this unconstitutional mess be fixed immediately.
Wait until 2020 to straighten this out? I think not. We don’t really even need a computer to redraw the lines properly. We’re supposed to have 120 state house seats. That’s one seat for each county with 20 left over to apportion to the 10 or 15 biggest cities. If Mecklenburg County ends up with four additional seats because they have over 7 million people there, fine. Let everyone run at-large and take the top five. Done deal! As for the state senate; there are 50 of them, one senator for every two counties. Fair enough!
What’s so damned hard about this? Nothing. So why have we been tolerating not only the blatant law breaking leaders in both the major parties have obviously been guilty of for years, not to mention the waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and labor, squandered to further the agenda of a few wealthy men and women and the puppets they purchase for us to choose from on election day?
We could fix this, if enough of us decided to throw off the chains of delusion and apathy. In fact, I think we’ve already taken the first steps in the Moral Monday protests organized by our state chapter of the NAACP, with over three hundred arrested in acts of conscience and civil disobedience.
People are sick of being lied to, taken for granted, manipulated and abused. Both parties bear plenty of guilt for the place we find ourselves and our democracy today, it just happens that the Republicans are driving at the moment. There is much to be done if we are to take back the governance of our state from partisan hacks and ideologues on both sides of the proverbial aisle, but a change is gonna come.
We’ve had enough!