Our founding fathers, framing our Constitution, created a representative democracy. They formed a republic, a government where the people vote for representatives to govern for them who reflect their views. This is indirect democracy, government by majority rule of the voters. The founding fathers also created a three-branch government. The executive, legislative and judicial branches are independent of each other assuring that no one branch seizes too much power. These founding principles of our government are under attack in the state of North Carolina.
Throughout our history the right to vote has been expanding to include African-American men, women and the nations’ youth (by reducing the voting age to 18). Today, their basic right is under threat. If our state legislature passes a law requiring voter IDs almost half a million registered voters, mainly our youth, the elderly, the poor and minorities, would be denied their voting right. Supporters of voter ID argue this law will combat voter fraud. Voter fraud is almost nonexistent in North Carolina.
After the election of 2010, state legislatures redrew their congressional districts reflecting population changes resulting from the census. The Republican dominated state legislature redrew N.C. legislative districts, manipulating them to favor Republican candidates. A majority of North Carolina voters cast their votes as Democrats in the 2012 election. As a result of gerrymandered districts Republican legislators hold over 70 percent of the seats. Some gerrymandering was practiced by past state legislatures. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” When elections are manipulated to favor one political party and not the will of the people, democracy is lost. There are currently court challenges to these gerrymandered districts that are not yet settled.
House Bill 10, recently passed in the N.C. State Senate, would allow Gov. Pat McCrory to eliminate 12 special Superior Court judges and change the makeup of the state Board of Elections. These unnecessary changes would serve to consolidate political power in the hands of the governor and the Republican Party. Altering the structure of our state judiciary is a serious threat to the principle of separation of powers so basic to our democracy. Replacing members of the Board of Elections with political appointees would place greater power and influence in the hands of one party, Republicans.
The above developments threaten to undermine the very foundations of our republic, a government representing the will of the people. Concentrating power in the executive branch endangers democracy. The state of North Carolina appears to be moving toward oligarchy, government by the few. History provides an example of possible disastrous consequences when one political party, dominated by a powerful executive, gains control over a government. “Evil triumphs when good men (and women) do nothing.” Citizens need to email, write or call elected officials. Speak up for democracy.
Margery Abel — Franklin, N.C.