The thinking of the Republican leadership in the North Carolina legislature is clear. They have come to the conclusion that if the game is fair, they can’t win.
The latest and most obvious example happened the other day, when the GOP leaders in the House engineered a surprise early-morning vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.
To understand what happens requires a little understanding of the rules. It takes a three-fifths majority to override a veto, and when everybody’s present, the Republicans don’t have a big enough margin. But leadership can call for a vote anytime more than half of the members are in the chamber. On Wednesday morning, 55 Republicans just happened to be present, and only about a dozen Democrats. The official vote was 55 to 9.
Democrats said Republican leaders had assured them there wouldn’t be any votes that morning, so they went off to other duties – at least a couple of them attended memorials for the anniversary of Sept. 11. Republicans said they made no such assurances.
But let’s use some common sense here. Everybody knew the Republicans wanted to override the veto. The Democrats would have been elsewhere only if they felt sure there wouldn’t be a vote. And all those Republicans wouldn’t have shown up unless they knew there would be.
The GOP knew they couldn’t win straight up. So they rigged the game.
And this is just their most recent insult to democracy. We just had to have a do-over election for the 9th District U.S. House seat because an operative for Republican candidate Mark Harris appears to have committed massive election fraud.
Dan Bishop, the Republican who replaced Harris, won the special election. But the district itself is gerrymandered to just about guarantee a Republican victory. In fact, all the U.S. House districts are so gerrymandered that state judges have ordered the legislature to redraw the map.
So let’s recap. The GOP leadership didn’t think they could win a fair fight to override the governor’s veto. Mark Harris, or somebody in his campaign, didn’t think he could win a fair election. And the Republicans who drew the district maps didn’t think they could win in races with fairly drawn districts.
By bending and breaking the rules, they are telling on themselves. They are saying to all of us that when the game is played straight, they’re losers.
On that point, I agree with them.
Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at firstname.lastname@example.org.