The last legislative special session gave North Carolinians an awful lot to unpack, with sweeping bills that make dramatic changes to the way our state is governed.
But forgetting for a moment the substance of SB 4 and its attendant legislation, I want to focus instead on the way the whole thing went down: in a special session, with short notice, urgently tucked into the calendar before the changing of the guard.
On social media over the weekend, state legislators including Sen. Phil Berger, Rep. John Hardister and Rep. John Blust defended the action by saying that this sort of thing happens all the time — notably when Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner was stripped of much of his authority by Democratic leadership. Where, they ask, was the media outcry when this happened — though in fact it was condemned in the editorial pages of every daily newspaper in the state.
Discrediting the media is part of the playbook here. For my part, I’ll say that I was a college freshman in 1989, the year Gardner’s office was… realigned. Ginsburg had just turned 1, and Jordan Green fell in between. That’s why we didn’t write about it, though you can consider it retroactively condemned by us. Hardister was in first grade, which is a pretty long time to hold a grudge.
But back in 1989, the Democrats had the courage not to hold a special session for their dirty work; they, at least, waited until after Gardner was elected before they cut him off at the knees. No one from the right has adequately explained the urgency in passing these laws, which I suppose is fine because we all know why.
Most unprecedented, though, is that Gov. Pat McCrory signed this legislation that drastically reduces the power of the seat he’s about to vacate. I don’t think an American politician has ever consciously acted to limit his own power since George Washington declined to be the king of America way back in the beginning.
Is McCrory admitting that he held far too much power during his time as governor? Is the GOP enacting an emergency course correction almost 30 years after the fact? Are we really supposed to believe all this crap?
We are. But it sounds like BS to me.