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December 20, 2016

The Fury in North Carolina Should Come to Washington

 

North Carolina's 'Legislative Coup' Is Over, and Republicans Won

The Eerily Familiar North Carolina Coup We’ve All Forgotten” 

GOP's illegal power grab in North Carolina”  

Breathless, end-of-the-world sounding headlines that bring MacBeth to mind “…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  But in this case, there is significance—though different than what the media would like you to believe. The headlines demonstrate that liberals still do not understand what happened in November, and worse, do not understand the fury of many Americans. 

In North Carolina late last week, the legislature approved several reforms that will limit the power of the governor and return that power to the legislature. The media response was predictable given what passes for coherent public policy thinking and political discourse. According to the New York Times, “Protesters [in North Carolina] spent a second day chanting and disrupting debate, as some were arrested and led away from the state legislative building in plastic wrist restraints.” 

The article explains: “Democratic lawmakers repeatedly referred to the [legislature’s] move as a ‘power grab’ carried out by a Republican Party upset that their candidate, Gov. Pat McCrory, had lost the governor’s race. Republicans countered by emphasizing that they had suffered similar indignities for many decades when Democrats controlled the legislature here.”  

One senator noted “…that the changes return ‘power that was grabbed during Democratic administrations in the 1990s, and some in the ’70s.’”  

While the timing of these changes immediately gives rise to the thinking that the motivation was purely political, the goal is important—returning power to the people via their representatives in the legislature.  

Hopefully the new U.S. Congress will do the same over the next couple years. 

The powers loaned to the federal government by the states and the people were few, but the powers provided to the president by the Constitution were intentionally limited even further. The restraint was intended to prevent the president from becoming an autocrat. The fight to constrain the executive’s power has been underway from the beginning. 

Congress used to have some notable champions defending the powers of the legislature, and thereby the voice of the people. For the last several decades those voices seem to be few and weak. 

The recent rampage of executive orders is just the latest step in diminishing Congress and merely a hint of things to come. 

Another example of the shift from the people to an autocracy, or even a king: allowing the president to enforce laws that suit him, or not enforce them and thereby effectively making whatever was supposed to be illegal legal. 

Now is the time for Congress, like the North Carolina legislature, to take back the powers it has ceded to the executive branch over the years. It is time for Congress to reinforce the limits imposed on executive power while preserving the power of the people’s branch of government. Congress should and must make decisions again or ultimately, like the presidential election, face the voters’ sound and fury, signifying everything.


 

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