Against the grain

by YES! Staff

The TV networks gave last week’s presidential election to Obama before midnight in what turned out to be a convincing electoral-college victory — 332 to 206 after Florida gets tallied — and a slim popular-vote margin of about 3 million.

But candidate Romney was able to flip North Carolina back to red, overshadowing Obama’s 14,000-vote 2008 victory here with a 100,000-vote margin, about 2 percentage points.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory also won handily.

And though the Triad counties of Guilford and Forsyth went heavily for the incumbent, Republicans were able to carry the day in the contests that matter most in our everyday lives.

The Guilford County Commission receives three new Republican representatives: Hank Henning, who takes over District 6; Jerry Alan Branson, who ousted longtime District 4 rep Kirk Perkins; and Jeff Phillips, a tea-party favorite who bested Paul Gibson in District 5. Republicans will enjoy a 5-4 majority for the first time.


In Forsyth, the red line held, as Gail McNeill failed to break into the Republican bloc that monopolizes Forsyth County Commis- sion District B. Three Republican incumbents — Chairman Richard Linville, Gloria Whisen- hunt and Dave Plyler — all won re-election. So two counties that went heavily for Obama are ruled on the ground by Republicans.

This was done by design. A major redistricting of North Carolina districts undercut Democrats’ representation and bolstered a Republican majority in all partisan government bodies.

On the state level the results are not so egregious. NC went for Romney, after all, and handily elected a Republican governor. The Republican majority in the state General Assembly, duly elected in 2010, should hold until the next round of redistricting in 2020.

But on the county level — particularly in Guilford and Forsyth — gerrymandering turns the notion of representative government on its head. By a trick of geography and math, Republicans have been able to hijack the state’s third-largest population center, clearly Obama country — and turn it into yet another outpost for the GOP ideology.

And it’s all perfectly legal. Make no mistake: This will affect your life more than the ruling party in Washington DC. County government has charge of the sheriffs’ departments, has a hand in education, sets propertytax rates as well as collecting and disbursing them.

And while honest people can have honest differences as to how these tasks should be carried out, it is equally true that these elected commissions do not proportionately represent the voters of Guilford and Forsyth.

But that’s the way the game is played. Politics is a blood sport.

And as we are so often reminded, elections have consequences.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .