Will there be democracy in North Carolina on November 9?

Speaking on our embattled democracy this week, President Joe Biden began with the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi. To give that perspective, he spoke of The Big Lie – that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. A lie that has since “fueled the dangerous rise in political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years,” witness the Pelosi attack. A lie that began – as clearly shown throughout The January 6 Attack on the Capital Hearings – months before Election Day when Trump and his advisors began planning both The Big Lie and the January 20 insurrection.


On Tuesday, we again return to the polls. Tensions are running high. On our minds, plenty of anxiety over possible violence and disruption of our election process. More than half the Republicans running for office – including all but one of the North Carolina Republican members of Congress – continue to maintain Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. One must wonder, to what ends might some or all those candidates go should they lose next week?


In the N.C. state legislature, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, when asked if he’d been watching the January 6 hearings said “I generally steer away from fictional readings… What’s going on there is an effort to paint a picture that is an exaggeration, in many respects, of what happened. And, clearly, in many respects it is an exaggeration of what, or maybe even just a fictional account what someone’s perceptions is of people’s motivations.”


Locked arm-in-arm with the Speaker of the N.C. House, the two have spent the past dozen years drawing election maps – later judged unconstitutional – to favor their party’s power and deny the will of the people. The two were outraged that the state Supreme Court had the audacity to strike down maps that don’t comport with the very constitution under which the legislature operates. Their response? Use dark money and theatrical dialogue to malign the court and attempt to win control for their own party. Should the court’s balance shift, both GOP Supreme Court candidates have stated they’d have allowed the aforementioned unconstitutional gerrymanders to stand. Blind, unbiased justice? Hardly!


Should that fail, those same GOP leaders have another rabbit up their sleeves. On December 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Moore v. Harper. The case will decide if state constitutions and state courts should have oversight to correct legislatures’ unconstitutional gerrymanders…or if the state legislature can draw maps independent of the judiciary branch. So much for checks and balances.


And how about dark money? More than a decade ago, in You Can’t Get There From Here, I wrote of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It struck down limits on corporate campaign contributions, and ruled corporations are not required to disclose their identity or the source of their money. “Put simply, the decision meant that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections – with no requirement to publicly disclose the source or sources of funding. Ostensibly, that source could be the next Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson, or Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. For that matter, it could be Russia or Syria. Or the secret police of any country in the world.” Today we know that Russia has done – and likely continues to do – exactly that.


It’s not a stretch to see where all this is going. Propaganda gone wild. The Big Lie. Unrest and violence initiated by the White House. Elected politicians refusing to accept the results of elections. Politicization of courts. Bottomless pools of dark money influence. (The front page story in Thursday’s Charlotte Observer described infiltration of dark money into the Mecklenburg County school board elections!) A U.S. Supreme Court possibly set to upend the practice of checks and balances. A presumption that state legislatures should have free rein to rig elections without judicial oversight. The threat of legislatures claiming the right to choose presidential electors without the input of voters.


And it all began with the cancer of gerrymandering. Elected politicians picking their voters by rigging election districts maps. Political parties literally own their turf, so our votes have no value. We can’t vote incumbents out, so we can’t force our “representatives” to fix things and make our state work for all of us. Doesn’t look much like democracy to me!


Get out and VOTE…like your democracy depends on it. Because it surely does!