By Ziyi Mai
Since the embarrassing “bathroom bill”(House Bill 2), the state of North Carolina once again has received national attention as the dominating Republicans in the General Assembly called a special legislative session in December introducing bills that could significantly strip executive power from the incoming Democratic governor.
According to The New York Times, Republicans that dominate both chambers of the legislature hastily convened a special session passing bills that require State Senate confirmation of cabinet appointments; sharply cut the number of employees who report to the governor from 1,500 to 300; and shifting the appointing power of the Board of Elections from the governor to the legislature, aiming to keep Republicans in power even if they have lost the gubernatorial race.
Politics in North Carolina has degenerated into a trend of purer partisan battle than serving the public as the end goal.
As Karen L. Cox pointed out in a New York Times op-ed, politics in the state wasn’t always a fierce partisan war.
It used to have civility in both side of the ales and the two parties cooperated toward the same goal for the good of the public.
The Old North State has been dubbed as the leading progressive force in the south, which is a blessing given the racial history in the south.
Slow but steady pace of progressive policies have been interrupted since 2010, when Republicans took control of the legislature, and two years later, the governorship.
It is not uncommon in a state that power shifts between parties from time to time.
But the performance of the NC Republicans from the past several years has clearly shown that they tried to move away from a secular government and establish rules of ideology and even religion.
The cumulative effect of all these changes is that our state is moving to a direction of theocracy.
The ideals of Republicans, to a large extent, are more driven by briefs rather than empirics that reflect the reality of the conflicts and problems in a society.
There’s no doubt that some of the ideals are beneficial to the society, such pro-business economic policy and limited the size of government.
Yet these policies are inevitably distorted when it comes to implementation. In social issues, the NC Republicans propose bills that are grounded on Christian beliefs in the name of protecting North Carolinians from liberal influence.
This is the reason that the NCGA has consistently passed eerie laws on which Americans out of the state might not get a clue.
Contrary to what liberals despise, many Christian principles are essentially good moral standards for a civil society, and the foundation of liberty to some extent.
Yet, these principles only work conditioned on individual believers. Christians usually wholeheartedly follow those principles without mandates.
However, any religious principles, no matter how good they are, would become tyrannical once a government implements them and require all citizens to follow.
From this standpoint, it is not difficult to understand why Republicans have a prolong resistance to issues such as gay marriage, abortion and gender equality.
The Republican government in North Carolina has already spent tremendous money and time in defending its effort changing the geopolitical environment and the state’s institutions.
In November, 2016, a three-judge panel of the District Court of North Carolina ruled that the Republican-drawn legislative map were unconstitutional, citing that it is racial gerrymanders that purposefully separated African-American and Hispanic voters into a few districts.
This is one of many examples that the state has been facing legal challenges from civil group and federal government as a result of its peculiar legislature serving not the public interest but the party’s.
The latest move of stripping the incoming governor’s power is the continuation of this direction, that NC Republicans are desperate to exert its religious influence on all North Carolinians.
Conservatives always scoff at liberals so called “overreaction” on such matters.
David French of National Review wrote “… bipartisan election boards and senate approval for gubernatorial appointments are hardly the stuff of which tyrannies are built. ”
It is true that these measures aren’t.
But the due process of making these changes should be questioned.
According to the state Constitution and the general principle of check and balances, the executive and legislature are both branches of state government in which their weight of power should be equal and separate.
Any rearrangement of power between branches is a matter of constitutionality and should proceed with the change of the state constitution.
If the legislation has become all-powerful to strip rights from the executive and the judiciary as lawmakers wish, a state would become a collective tyranny. And this is exactly the situation that the founding fathers want to avoid.
Putting bigotry pieces of legislation such as HB2 should be worrisome, but what is even more troubling is the damage that NC Republicans have done to our state’s democratic institutions that ensure stability and serve the public’s interest regardless of rule from either party.
Unfortunately, the deterioration of these institutions seems unstoppable as the NC Republicans continue to undermine all branches of the state government and the Board of Elections.
Ziyi Mai is a Teaching Assistant at North Carolina State University and a Young Leader columnist.
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Cover Photo Credit: Gerry Dincher/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)