Like children running free in a candy store:
The session, complete with fervent protests, was a replay of a common scene over the last four years: Republicans in the legislature introduce a bill; Democrats argue against fiercely; a large number of protestors arrive and demonstrate; but the bills roll on with little impediment, thanks to large Republican majorities in both houses. Those majorities exist in part thanks to gerrymandered districts, some of which were so extreme that a federal court has ordered them redrawn and has shortened the terms of some legislators to a year in order to accommodate special elections in 2017.
Sometimes I get a little jealous of all those people who studiously ignore politics, and go about their day wondering what Victor on General Hospital has been up to or complain about somebody wearing pajamas at Wally World. But then I remember that a lot of those people actually *do* vote, and their inattentiveness is what helps these GOP mini-tyrants stay in office. But not everybody is standing idle, and the folks who drove to Raleigh to fight back deserve a huge round of applause:
Some out-of-state progressives took to social media to criticize North Carolina Democrats for not fighting hard enough, but it’s a mystery what methods they might use to derail the legislation. For the last four years, General Assembly Democrats have tried and mostly failed to find ways to block the Republican supermajorities. Their most potent tool, and one that some analysts credit with electing Cooper, is the vast activist base gathered under the Moral Monday banner. The protestors were out in force on Thursday. At different times, the presiding officers had both galleries cleared after members of the public cheered loudly during debate. It happened first in the senate, forcing members to take a brief break while protestors were ushered out.
Later, it happened again in the house, while Michaux was speaking. This interruption was longer, with protestors filing out but remaining outside the chamber, chanting loud enough to stall the hearing, for some time. A reporter, Joe Killian of N.C. Policy Watch, was arrested. So were about 20 other protestors who refused to leave. (Such mass arrests are a formalized process at this point; Moral Movement organizers sign up willing arrestees ahead of time, and late in the protest Thursday an organizer announced that anyone who didn’t intend to be arrested should skedaddle.)
And when they do show up for their court dates, the judge should not only throw out the charges, he should thank them for doing their civic duty in the name of justice.