PubPenimageNorth Carolina Democracy? Shame! Shame! Shame!

An online article published in Slate magazine just before Christmas stated that a group of experts that rates the integrity of elections around the world found that North Carolina can’t really be considered a democracy anymore. It cited the findings of the Electoral Integrity Project, a nonpartisan organization that empowers citizen volunteers through education and training, to participate actively in protecting our freedoms and way of life. Its research team is based at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the University of Sydney. The criticism noted that our outgoing Republican governor, Pat McCrory, signed a bill stripping his Democratic successor, Roy Cooper, of certain powers.

In a related op-ed piece published in the News & Observer of Raleigh, Andrew Reynolds, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote that North Carolina is the worst state in the U.S. for unfair legislative and congressional districting and also the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the E.I.P.

The E.I.P. think tank placed North Carolina alongside the likes of Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone when it comes to governance. North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration that E.I.P actually ranked our state alongside Iran and Venezuela. Ugh!

Not good. And, it gets worse. When it comes to the integrity of voting district boundaries, no country has ever received as low a score as North Carolina.

“That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time,” notes Reynolds. The most respected measures of democracy are those that reflect the fairness and execution of power by those elected to represent the people. The extent to which North Carolina’s legislature breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy. This should concern all Tar Heel residents. Unresponsive and irresponsible politics perpetrated by reigning Democrats and Republicans cannot escape the fair and equal blame for such outrageous governance. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Reynolds observes in his op-ed piece that democracies do not limit their citizens’ rights based on their born identities. However, this is exactly what the North Carolina legislature did through House Bill 2 and its attempts to reduce African-American and Latino access to the vote.

Professor Reynolds concludes that we need to address the institutional failures that have cost us our democratic ranking – unfair districting, denial of equal access to the vote and the abuse of legislative power.

No democracy in the world outside of the U.S. allows elected politicians to draw the lines. Voter registration and poll access should make voting as easy as possible and never be skewed in favor of any one element of society. Elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, need to follow the core principle of democracy; that is to respect the will of the people. In our America, all true Republicans, Democrats, Independents and even Green Party members need to be fully dedicated and loyal to the inherent democratic principles of our Founding Fathers.

The questions that remain are: Where do you stand? Who will be the peacemakers? Who will be the first to set self-interest aside and step up to be the statesmen for fairness, decency, equality and the American way? In North Carolina, from both sides of the aisle, what we know for sure is that “Absolute power corrupts…Absolutely!”

Again: Shame! Shame! Shame!

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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