It is hard to know where to start in describing the fiasco that was the North Carolina General Assembly Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
The word that comes quickly to mind is arrogance. And not just because the Republican leadership abused their power, went back on their word, cut off debate, and refused to disclose what would be discussed at a special session held at 12:45 in the morning when they announced it just 90 minutes before.
And it is not just because they physically blocked a reporter from asking questions about their ridiculous manipulation of the legislative process or used irrelevant examples of past legislative actions to defend the way they held the General Assembly hostage to their partisan whims, at one point even showing a college football game on the voting board in the House during the recess, while legislative leaders hatched their schemes in their corner offices.
It’s certainly not only because they stretched and bent and finally broke the truth in their claims that the problem was that Governor Perdue had refused to appoint a new Republican member of the House chosen to replace a member who resigned.
Perdue correctly pointed out that she could not make the appointment until the new member, former Representative Trudy Walend, filled out her Statement of Economic Interest that is required by law.
And it wasn’t the usual falsehoods spread during the substantive debates, in this case the fear-mongering statements by Senator Thom Goolsby that the Racial Justice Act would release convicted murderers from death row. That’s simply false and Goolsby knows it.
It wasn’t even the staggeringly disingenuous claims made by House Majority Leader Paul Stam, the prince of disingenuousness.
Stam told the House during the 1:00 a.m. debate about overriding Perdue’s veto of a bill that would end the payroll deduction for teachers to pay their dues to the N.C. Association of Educators that it was about taking politics out of the classroom.
That’s an odd point to make since House Speaker Thom Tillis was overhead earlier in the session on a microphone he didn’t realize was on saying that the bill was all about punishing the NCAE for the groups political activity.
All those things, as shocking and arrogant as they seemed Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday morning, really shouldn’t have been that surprising to anyone who has been watching the leadership of this General Assembly since they formerly assumed control almost 12 months ago.
They been making and breaking promises about Medicaid and teaching fellows and early childhood programs for months.
They have been routinely cutting off debate, holding hastily called meetings where no public input is allowed, refusing to disclose what will be considered in their endless special sessions.
They have demonstrated time and time again their willingness to abuse the legislative process to serve their partisan and extreme ideological aims.
As disturbing as it is, the arrogance inherent in all of that is not new among this group of legislative leaders. It just reached a new level this week.
And something else shined through too, a different sort of arrogance.
They simply think people don’t care, that they can do anything they want in their fiefdom on Jones Street and it won’t matter to the people they are supposed to represent.
But they are wrong.
When folks look back at the downfall of this out-of-touch, far-right, ideologically extreme and oppressive legislative leadership, it is likely that the disgusting behavior this week in the middle of the night will have played a major role in their demise.