New York and California have long tussled over the title—one for its corrupt and incompetent parties and the other for its referendums (and its corrupt and incompetent parties). But there can be no doubt that North Carolina is now firmly in possession of the championship belt. But unlike in New York and California, in North Carolina only one party bears responsibility for the mess the state finds its in.
Here are some things that have happened in North Carolina in the last two weeks: First, Republican Governor Pat McCrory, famous for passing discriminatory laws that tell trans people which bathroom they can use, finally admitted defeat after weeks of clawing on to his job; Democrat Governor-elect Roy Cooper will take over in January. But shortly after McCrory gave up the fight, Republican members of North Carolina’s state legislature called a surprise session and staged a coup, of sorts—stripping the incoming governor of key powers, including the office’s control of election boards and cabinet, and ability to appoint trustees to the University of North Carolina, while making it so hundreds of managers in state agencies report to the legislature, rather than the governor. McCrory went along with all of it, standing with his party, rather than his office.
On Wednesday, things went from worse to even worse in North Carolina. Cooper had negotiated a compromise with Republicans in the state legislature regarding the state’s odious bathroom bill: The Charlotte city council would repeal protections put in place for LGBT people and the legislature would repeal the bathroom bill, known as HB2. The city council complied (after dallying a bit), but when it came time for the Republican legislature to hold up its end of the bargain, it stalled.
Instead of moving to complete the repeal of HB2, the legislature devoted its attention to a bill that would impose a “six-month cooling-off period” in which local governments would not be allowed to amend any “ordinance regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers or changing facilities.” In other words, Charlotte would not be able to reinstall its protections for LGBT people for six months. Then they broke and went home, still without upholding their end of the bargain.
Cooper and Charlotte got played. They should have seen it coming—North Carolina Republicans have made it clear again and again that they never intended to fully repeal HB2. Worse, North Carolina Republicans are trying to spin the situation to blame Cooper, Charlotte, and Democrats.
Of course, the only ones playing politics here are the Republicans. But they won’t pay—the people of North Carolina will.