I think it’s time to look to the North Carlolina GOP as a kind of worst-possible-case example of where the national party is headed. Nowhere else have I found the Republicans to be more conniving, vindictive, undemocratic and downright criminal. Wednesday provided the latest appalling example.
The state’s legislature has been struggling to pass a budget for the next fiscal year. The Republicans control both the House and Senate, and they sent a budget to the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, back in June. However, the governor wants to expand Medicaid under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act and their budget did not provide for that. This is the primary reason that Cooper vetoed their bill.
Since the GOP does not have a supermajority in either chamber, they do not have the votes to simply override Cooper’s veto. Yet, rather than sit down with their Democratic counterparts and work out a compromise budget, the Republicans have refused to budge.
Every legislative day since June 5, Speaker of the House Tim Moore has put a veto override bill on the calendar. He told the press that would not actually call for a vote on the bill until he was sure he had the votes. The problem was that he was never going to have the votes.
However, the morning of September 11 offered him an unusual opportunity. Many Democrats would want to attend some kind of memorial or remembrance event of the terrible terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. Sensing that this might give Speaker Moore the opportunity he’d been looking for, the House Minority Leader Darren Jackson sought assurances that no votes would be held before noon on Wednesday. He inquired with the presiding officer Rep. David Lewis, and he received that assurance.
Yet, as soon as the Democrats were otherwise occupied, the House quickly brought the budget veto override bill up for a vote and passed it. In doing so, they relied on deceit and disrespected all those who died or suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks. They achieved an outcome through undemocratic means. And they obviously care more about that outcome, denying the working poor access to health care, than any political fallout that might result.
The Raleigh News & Observer editorial board is scathing in their response and they urged the Senate not to follow suit in overriding the veto:
The verdict is now plain. North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders — not actually leaders, but connivers — are beyond shame.
In a stunning display of contempt for democracy, House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, called a surprise vote to overturn Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget just after a session opened at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers and the media had been told by Republican leaders that there would be no vote in the morning.
Most Democrats were absent. Enough Republicans, aware of the secret plan, were there. When Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, made the motion to reconsider the state budget, the handful of Democrats on hand objected strenuously…
…It’s a grim reality that there are likely no Senate Republicans who — however they may feel about the budget — would turn away from participating in this act of subterfuge. In a sense, the budget that comes before them to be made into law is the legislative equivalent of stolen goods. So what, they’ll figure, our side stole it; Democrats shouldn’t have been so trusting. Tough.
But this isn’t a case simply of hardball politics and sly legislative maneuvering. This is a case of breaking faith with the people of North Carolina and with all who strove and sacrificed over generations to protect and advance North Carolina’s political system as one based on a true representation of the people’s will, a true democracy.
And the legislation at issue isn’t a bill of limited scope. It is the state budget. It is how North Carolina defines itself by the priorities it sets in spending…
…Not only was the House vote dishonest, it was carried out by a Republican majority that courts have repeatedly found to have gained seats through illegal gerrymandering. It was an illegitimate majority acting in an unethical way. These Republicans may be incapable of shame, but North Carolinians should be outraged. First by gerrymandering and now by a high-handed vote, something new has been taken from them. It’s called democracy.
If all the Republicans in the state Senate go along with this plan, they will only need one Democrat to cross the aisle in order to override the veto and turn their budget into law. We can see that they are not above waiting until the day that some Democrats are absent to overcome this obstacle.
The North Carolina Republican Party has been repeatedly rebuked by the courts for racial gerrymandering, for restricting voting rights, and for other unconstitutional acts. There was a special election on Tuesday that was only necessary because Republican operatives had committed ballot fraud in the 2018 midterm election. When Roy Cooper was elected as governor, they responded by stripping him of the ability to appoint officers to his administration. They will clearly try any trick, violate any norm, and even break laws to get what they want.
This isn’t just a concern for the people of North Carolina. It’s an example of what the national party is capable of doing if it’s under enough duress.