The GOP swing

by YES! Staff

When the Republicans took over the NC General Assembly in 2010 for the first time since 1870, the big wins made a lot of sense.

Despite the state’s plurality of registered Democrats among the electorate — in itself somewhat misleading, because NC has voted for Republican presidents since the Southern Strategy took hold in the 1960s, with the lone exception being Barack Obama, who took the state by a single percentage point in 2008 — the party in power had been plagued by scandals, ineptitude and corruption. In 2010, the Democrats deserved to lose.

It was a fortuitous year for the win. Shortly after the term began, the Republicans began allocating the spoils, further carving up the state’s districts to their advantage in the 10-year redistricting cycle.

Gov. Pat McCrory presides over one of 24 states now ruled by a Republican trifecta.

Many white Democratic legislators found themselves drawn out of their districts or double-bunked with like-minded colleagues — in Guilford County, reps Maggie Jeffus and Pricey Harrison both ended up in District 57, with Harrison staying on after 2012 while the GOP solidified its hold, gaining a supermajority in the House, maintaining its edge in the Senate and installing one of its own as governor. Gov. Pat McCrory presides over one of 24 states now ruled by a Republican trifecta, and now just about half the country has set about turning back the Affordable

Care Act, decimating education, “defending marriage” and denying citizens the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

And don’t get us started on the gun stuff. In North Carolina we’re following the national pattern: Among the proposals our General Assembly has entertained this year are a refusal of federal Medicaid funds, deep cuts to our once-enviable state university system, a law requiring a two-year waiting period for a divorce and a move to declare Christianity the official state religion of North Carolina — the Constitution be damned.

But we’re still holding out faith in McCrory as the pragmatic moderate who will stand up to the fringe elements in his party and restore some of the state’s lost prosperity.

To that end, he’s proposed privatizing the NC Department of Commerce, creating a non-profit corporation charged with attracting jobs, tourism and trade.

We have grave concerns about this new arrangement: Surely a private corporation will have issues with the kind of transparency required by government agencies. And one of the entities which will not be transferred to the new corporation, the Division of Employment Security which oversees unemployment-insurance payments, could be left to wither on the vine though our unemployment rate stands at 9.4 percent, the fourth-worst in the nation.

That’s the number McCrory and his party cronies need to worry about, not the state’s divorce rate. If he can wade through the nonsense — xercising his veto power a time or three in the process, we hope — and actually do something about the state’s economic woes, he could well solidify a Republican majority for a generation.

But if the trends continue, the pendulum of state politics should swing the other way, and those carefully crafted red districts may start flipping to blue.

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