The 2006 legislative session ended on Friday and with it so did the career of Richard Morgan. Now I would not normally bemoan the loss of Republican member of the NC House, but this one seems to the harbinger of a bad tide in North Carolina politics.
First, it should be recognized that the position of legislator in North Carolina is not a coveted job. Being a member of North Carolina's General Assembly is not a well paid position and is still considered to be a part-time job, even though the members spend many hours fundraising and attending events to even be able to run for this part-time job and must uproot themselves for many months and head to Raleigh each year. The legislators then work late into the night and get heaped little praise, usually being overshadowed by national events or state-wide elected officials. But the legislators are ones with their hands in the fire crafting policy for the state that affects the lives of many on any given day.
These factors usually result both in many slots to run for the legislature open each election because people do not want to deal with the hassle and that those that do run are typically very statesman like. Sure that are a few Jim Black's who seem interested in personal gain and others dedicated to a philosophy, but it is obvious (as compared to national politics) that the vast majority of legislators are there to help the people and the state, whether or not we agree with them.
That is where Richard Morgan comes in. Morgan is a long time house member who was highly thought of in the Republican party and elected speaker pro temp of the house and other leadership positions in the Republican party. He was also know as someone who was willing to work in a bipartisan manner. Now it was this that riled the Puppetmaster, Art Pope. Pope spent hundreds of thousands of his and his corporation's and his 527's money ousting Morgan and selecting a radical replacement.
The point of this post is not the legality of Pope's actions but the tone that is left by the ouster. The Republican party is being molded by Pope into a more distinctly partisan and radical group, one legislator at a time. This new partisanship is horrible turn from the days of North Carolina's legislators working together. It is all fine in theory to be set in your goals that you will not work on any compromise, but the General Assembly both must implement new policies to advance our state and also meet its needs to ensure that our schools are funded, that prisons run smoothly, that our legal system has ample resources, and that counties are provided support. As the tone in Raleigh slides to more partisan rancor, these essential functions of government are going to suffer since it will become increasing difficult to get even the essential legislation through.
Art Pope is trying to mold North Carolina's political landscape to be much more polarized. He succeeded with ousting Morgan. If he continues taking North Carolina down this path, we will all be worse off. Wondering, much like they in Washington these days, where the civility in debate and ability to come together has gone.