JLF’s John Hood slices and dices the latest liberal/Democratic Party rhetoric about legislative power in our state. Their idea is that conservative policies adopted by the legislature are illegitimate because election maps favor the GOP. Hood explains why this is a talking point the liberals/Democrats should stop making now, or face a whole lot more embarrassment.
In both 2002 and 2004, Republicans received a majority of votes for the House and Senate – but ended up controlling neither chamber. In the 2002 Senate elections, for example, Republicans won 52 percent of the statewide vote but only 23 of the 50 seats.
Gerrymandering was the primary cause. But in the 2002 House elections, Republican even won a 61-59 majority of the seats on Election Day. Democrat Jim Black kept the job as Speaker of the House for the 2003-04 session by bribing a Republican lawmaker to switch parties, creating a 60-60 tie, and then picking off a few GOP dissidents to keep power mostly in Democratic hands.
If it is objectionable to use gerrymandering to pad a political party’s legislative majority, surely it is worse to use gerrymandering (or criminal behavior, in Black’s case) to put the legislature in the hands of the party that got fewer statewide votes. That’s true regardless of which party is the beneficiary.
But if you think such a result not just objectionable but illegitimate, making any legislation enacted by such a legislature illegitimate, that would make the following policies illegitimate: More at Four (now North Carolina Pre-K), Learn and Earn, the Clean Smokestack Act, the state lottery, early voting, and all the tax hikes, class-size reductions, public-employee pay raises, and other policies changes contained in every state budget from 2001 to 2006.
Should we just nullify all these illegitimate laws by unanimous consent?