Not everything that is legal is ethical. Sadly, some politicians who hold power and cannot get what they want by democratic means look for ways to manipulate the system in their favor, performing shameless maneuvers that are full of ambition but lacking in morals. This happened last week in the North Carolina General Assembly.
The Republican majority of the North Carolina General Assembly was not happy when Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget on . Cooper called on legislators to negotiate a budget that contains several points of social interest, such as an expansion of Medicaid to cover 500,000 people and an 8.5 salary increase for public school teachers.
Republican lawmakers could not override the governor’s veto because in the elections they lost the supermajority they had. So, for more than two months they simply stood by and did nothing and they did not negotiate a single point.
On the night of , the office of the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Darren Jackson, sent an email to his colleagues saying there would be no votes on the morning of . Jackson said that Republican David Lewis, Chairman of the Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee of the House of Representatives, had given him this information.
On the morning of , some Democratic lawmakers were participating in commemorative events for the attacks. Tim Moore, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, noted that 38 Democratic lawmakers were not present, and he called a vote to override the governor’s veto. It was approved with 55 votes in favor and 15 against. So just like that, 500,000 people were left without Medicaid and the salary increase for teachers was cut in half.
The Electoral Integrity Project, an initiative of Harvard and Sydney Universities, seeks to quantify the integrity of elections worldwide. It has covered 285 elections in 164 countries over the last five years.
In , one of the project’s members, Andrew Reynolds, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that North Carolina’s electoral integrity score was comparable to that of countries such as Cuba, Indonesia, and Sierra Leone.
At the time, North Carolina’s low ranking in the Electoral Integrity Project was criticized as an exaggeration, but then the lawsuits rained down regarding the drawing of electoral maps by the (Republican majority) General Assembly. On , a panel of judges ruled that North Carolina state legislative maps are so gerrymandered (manipulated in a partisan way) to benefit Republican candidates that they violate the state Constitution and must be redesigned.
No matter what political party a person is from, when legislators must rely on deception, manipulation, and opportunism to achieve their goals, they are blatantly attacking our democracy.