The worst thing a politician can do, in the immortal words of the very mortal Chris Hitchens, is compel a voter to ask: “What does this guy take me for?”
The fiasco last week on the floor of the North Carolina House has incited this question from all corners.
The factual record shows that on the morning of Sept. 11 — an auspicious anniversary for such a miscarriage of American government — while all the Republicans sat in their seats and just about all of the Democrat reps were in committee meetings, at 9-11 ceremonies or otherwise occupied, an unexpected vote was held to overturn Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget. The override, which had been threatened for weeks, passed 55-9 along party lines.
It is known that Rep. David Lewis (R-Hartness) sent texts to House Democrat Leader Darren Jackson (Wake) and WRAL reporter Laura Leslie saying that there would be no vote that morning.
And House Whip Jon Hardister sent a documented email to all House GOP members imploring them to make sure they were seated that day, “not only for votes, but in case procedural motions are made.”
Also factual: Though a quorum was achieved by the majority party, more than 3.5 million North Carolinians were not represented in that room.
But here is where the competing versions of reality begin to diverge.
House Democrats make the claim that there was not supposed to be a vote on Sept. 11, even though there was a vote item on the calendar, as it has been for every morning in the last few weeks of what is becoming the longest long session in the history of NC politics.
House GOP claims business as usual.
But remember, this is a party who created and governed under illegal districts for the past eight years, and undertook every legal recourse possible to defend this crime.
While the NC GOP has squandered most of its credibility with anyone but the truest believers, the actions of the Democrats should leave us incredulous, too.
The Republicans should have acted better. The Democrats should have known better. And we all deserve better.