North Carolina has been at the center of a political firestorm in recent years. First, the North Carolina legislature passed a law that eliminated the first week of early voting, required voters to display their photo IDs and cut out-of-precinct voting. This was dubbed the “monster law” because critics found that it severely affected African-Americans and other minorities’ abilities to vote.
Secondly, the passing of House Bill 2, a bathroom bill that forbade transgender people from entering the restroom of the gender different from their birth certificate caused a frenzy of controversy with critics calling it the most “anti-LGBT legislation” in the States.
One can say that North Carolina is in a deeply divided state when it comes to politics. But it was not always this way. Once dubbed as the South’s “beacon of moderation” by The New York Times, North Carolina is a beacon of education, research, and science. It is the home of the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, and holds many esteemed universities, like Duke and the University of North Carolina.
But gerrymandering has changed these once-enlightening prospects. After the North Carolina Republicans seized control of the General Assembly in 2010, putting them in charge of the House and Senate since the 19th century, there have been many efforts to convert the state from its progressive direction back to their conservative roots.
Karen L. Cox at the New York Times wrote that the state’s Republicans “have targeted jobless benefits, education and welfare spending, while pushing for redistricting and limits on voting rights to keep them in power.”
Andrew Reynolds, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina analyzed the fairness of the electoral representation in North Carolina, ranking the state next to Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone in The New York Times.
Now that Roy Cooper beat Pat McCrory in the gubernatorial election, the Republican-dominated legislature is passing bills to limit the control of the governor in the state, a clear “power grab,” according to the Democrats.
If the Republicans keep control of the legislature, more voting restrictions, less access to abortions, and tax cuts might be approved.
Overall, North Carolina is representative of the worst when it comes to polarization in politics: a deeply divided government where the new governor and legislature are deeply at odds.
North Carolina lawmakers’ failure to repeal House Bill 2 will lead to more tensions between the parties in the next year.
One can only hope, much like the arrival of a new presidential election, that after all is said and done, polarization can end and the real action to revive a state that was once a beacon of Southern progressivism might return.
Do you think North Carolina is heading in the wrong direction with its gerrymandering and deeply divided politics? Tweet @issabasco.