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Home Columns EDITORIAL: Minority rule in North Carolina, and elsewhere

EDITORIAL: Minority rule in North Carolina, and elsewhere

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The Congressional districts in North Carolina as of 2019. (screenshot)

Hilary Clinton owes us nothing. After a lifetime of government service and decades in the very highest halls of power, she has earned a quiet retirement. But she knows what she’s talking about, and when she speaks — especially now, when she is not running for anything or involved in anyone’s campaign — we ignore her at our peril.

Last month at an event held by the Guardian, she described one of the most pressing dangers to our democracy is the Republican’s desire to “rule by minority,” which in theory is the very antithesis of democracy… kind of.

Minority rule is when those in power are unpopular, operating outside the desires of most of the people they govern. It is, in fact, less governing than it is ruling, because their actions are edicts and not mandates.

Remember, though, the country was established by white men who systemically disenfranchised all voters other than themselves. So in a sense we have always had minority rule. It’s harder to pull off these days, but certainly do-able. Look no further than our own state, where the Republicans have been marginalizing the majority for almost a decade, enacting unpopular policies like anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and ignoring popular ones like cannabis legalization.

The mathematical proof is public record: The 2020 Election results display it neatly.

There were roughly 10 million North Carolinians in 2020, 7.36 million of them registered to vote. In 2020, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans statewide by 391,414. Unaffiliated voters outnumbered Republicans by more than 200,000.

Note that 5.5 million North Carolinians voted in the governor’s race that year, 99.22 percent of the votes cast. The Democrat won by 4.5 points, with more than 51 percent of the vote. And yet this exact same electorate chose a heavily Republican General Assembly. Out of 120 House seats spread across the state, Republicans won 75, or 62.45 percent. And they won 35 of 50 Senate seats, or 70 percent.

The tools of minority rule are the same everywhere: filibuster, gerrymander, voter obstruction, propaganda and, occasionally, violence. They’re working just fine here in NC, where marginalizing the majority has become the only option left for a party with unpopular positions.

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