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North Carolina fought for centuries to become a democracy

Cynicism is a poor facsimile of a skeptical mind. Perhaps unwittingly, North Carolina political insiders have vacated their sense of shock at the authoritarian machinations that have become a central hallmark of Republican rule in our state. NC Newsline editor Rob Schofield succinctly characterized this learned helplessness as a body politic gone “numb.” In the historical blink of an eye, the Raleigh establishment has internalized partisan arrogance as the political norm, and their complacency puts our tattered democracy at risk.

North Carolina’s long history of democratic failure should have instilled a permanent wariness in the guardians of our state’s government. In 1775 when our first state Constitution was ratified, all women were disenfranchised, a strict property requirement precluded many white males from service in the legislature, and only Protestant Christians were given the right to vote. Assuming that Black suffrage was self-evidently preposterous, the slaveholding framers accidentally allowed free Black men to vote, an “oversight” that the state’s white patriarchy emphatically reversed when slaveholder Nathaniel Macon convened North Carolina panjandrums to revise the state Constitution in the 1830s. This oppressive state of affairs held true through the White Supremacy Campaigns of 1898 and 1900 and the state’s stubborn refusal to ratify the 19th Amendment giving the right to vote to women.

Given the grim history of this former Jim Crow state, all North Carolinians should rejoice and cherish the advances we made towards authentic democracy between 1965 and 2010. Indeed, the last years of Democratic-Party government saw efforts to expand early voting, same-day registration, and other reforms that catalyzed higher voter turnout and a healthier democracy. But this success clearly bred complacency. When Republicans wrested control of state government from Democrats in 2010, our strides toward democracy hit the hard rocks of reaction.

Source : NC News