Voters handed the leadership faction in North Carolina's General Assembly a couple of black eyes Tuesday.
First, two proposed constitutional amendments -- which would have turned court appointments and the elections board, essentially, over to whoever's running the legislature -- were both shot down by large margins. Good. This was a pretty naked power grab, which had nothing to do with good government or political principle.
Second, barring changes in the election canvasses, it looks as if Republicans lost their veto-proof majorities in Raleigh. Good again: The leadership faction pushed through a lot of junk with barely any debate. Bills read as if they were dashed off in a back room in a matter of minutes.
This is not a matter of ideology; it's sloppy governance. The leadership left North Carolina saddled with bad bills, like the poorly considered HB-2, which cost the state billions, all for a matter of symbolism. (We never could figure out how it was supposed to be enforced, barring posting guards at bathrooms to perform pat-downs.) HB-2, remember, was dashed off in a single-day special session, then bulldozed into law, only to eventually be scrapped.
Now Republicans in the legislature will have to come up with budgets and laws that Gov. Cooper, a Democrat, will be willing to live with. (One reason governors are an essential part of the overall political system is the simple fact that their elections cannot be gerrymandered). That means they will have to talk to their Democratic colleagues, negotiate and come up with compromises. Nobody will get everything they want, but if the negotiating goes well, most people will get something, and no one can be really mad.
This is the way American government is supposed to work. Remember all those civics lessons about our nation's founders coming up with compromise after compromise to write the constitution?
Lately, "compromise" has become a dirty word, redolent of Neville Chamberlain backing down against Hitler. Well, when the Hitler metaphors come out, most of us should calm down, count to 10, and think about what they're saying.
Democrats and Republicans, liberals, conservatives and moderates are not inherently evil, worthy of destruction. They're American citizens with different ideas.
Some of those ideas are better than others, but no side, to be honest, has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. Those ideas should be argued out, openly and with plenty of time for discussion. It takes awhile and can be messy, but generally, the best ideas get adopted while others fade away.
North Carolina voters, in their wisdom, seem to have brought a welcome dose of democracy back to Raleigh.