The GOP’s Gutting of Governor’s Office in NC Shows Contempt For Democracy

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North Carolina Legislature building
North Carolina Legislature building
Photo Credit: 
Jayron32 of English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the recent North Carolina governor’s race, Democrat Roy Cooper edged out GOP rival currently sitting governor Pat McCrory by only about 10,000 votes. Now, the GOP dominates the state house and is now abusing that power, and defiling the spirit of democracy, by weakening the governor’s office. The GOP’s motive is clear: having lost the election, they’d rather corrupt democracy than listen to the will of their own citizens. Cooper won the election, fair and square, and was the people’s choice, yet for the GOP, democracy is secondary to their desire for control.

In theory, Democratically elected leaders are supposed to learn how to work together and to compromise. Over the past several decades, however, bipartisanship has declined at both the federal and state level. Now, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have launched an outright assault on democracy. Having lost the governor’s office in the recent elections, GOP lawmakers are now seeking to gut the governor’s office, forcing through harsh reforms that will severely limit the incoming Democrat’s ability to manage over the government.

The precedence this sets should worry everyone, Democratic or Republican. Following Donald Trump’s victory, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have urged the public and democrats to give Trump a chance. Both Clinton and Obama have cited the beauty of American democracy and the transfer of power from one administration to the next, even if the out-going and incoming administrations despise one another.

Clearly, that won’t be the case in Raleigh. Instead, the GOP is seeking to circumvent the democratic process. Since their citizens elected a candidate that they don’t like, GOP state legislators are simply going to dis-empower the governor’s office, and attempt to make the governor’s office as close to a figurehead position again.

Perhaps the most important change that GOP lawmakers pushed through was to require state house confirmations on Cooper’s cabinet picks. Traditionally, the governor could assemble the cabinet staff as he or she saw fit. These cabinet members, in turn, hold a huge amount of power and sway within the state government as they manage over the most important branches of the government. With confirmations required, it’s likely that the GOP will be able to force Cooper to accept GOP-favored administrators.
Besides cabinet positions, the legislators also reduced the number of staff the governor can hire and fire by up to 1,200 positions. Again, staffing government positions helps the governor manage over, control, and direct the work of government agencies. Without his own people in place, Gov. Cooper is going to have limited direct ability to influence the government bureaucracy.

Perhaps most sickening of all the GOP used the plight of hurricane victims to schedule a special session. In this session disaster relief took the back seat to GOP ambitions to circumvent the votes of the North Carolina people.

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