by Carter Wrenn, Talking About Politics, July 9, 2015.
Like him or not, Phil Berger’s about the most powerful politician around; last year, just so no one got confused about who rules the roost in Raleigh, he and the Senate Bull Mooses put the kibosh on the Governor’s pet ‘puppy mills’ bill and, this year, they’re creatively discovering ways to expand their power no one imagined.
The ‘government derives its power from the people’ is about as sacred a principle as Americans have. It’s in the Declaration of Independence. But a Bull Moose set on expanding his fiefdom is no respecter of tradition.
After Republicans lost every County Commissioner race in Wake County (Raleigh) last fall, the Bull Mooses redrew all the Commissioners’ districts – to elect more Republicans.
Then they set out to do it again in Greensboro – which led to the local newspaper raising an interesting question: Who should decide how Greensboro’s Mayors and City Councilmen are elected? The people of Greensboro? Or Bull Mooses who don’t live in Greensboro?
What happened next was as bare-knuckled a political move as you could hope to see: Berger and Company whipped a bill through to redraw Greensboro’s City Council districts and remove incumbents from office by double-bunking them. The Governor, former Congressman Howard Coble and Guilford County’s Republican Sheriff all opposed the bill and two House Republicans asked the Bull Mooses if they’d at least let the people in Greensboro vote on the plan in a referendum.
The Bull Mooses said No. And trampled a political value that goes back to the Declaration of Independence in the dust without regret or a backwards glance.
You can’t help admiring Berger and Company’s brazenness. And Prussian-like efficiency. They’re becoming more powerful daily. But Bull Mooses who live in Eden or Jacksonville or Hendersonville dictating City Council and County Commissioner districts to voters in Raleigh and Greensboro may turn out to be like playing with fire. Gaining power’s a heady thing. But when you trample a two-hundred year old tradition in the dust there’s a price to be paid.