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A House Divided

As this is being written, the North Carolina General Assembly House of Representatives, or, as we understandably shorten it, the State House, is without a Speaker, or, as we equally shorten that, “boss.” The Speaker of the House decides who gets on which committees, and which bills reach the floor for a vote. You can’t get much more powerful than that in a legislative body.

The problem, so far, in selecting a Speaker is that the House is equally divided between democrats and republicans—60 apiece. And, in North Carolina (lately at least), there has been little inclination for the solons to agree on anything that crosses party lines. Another word for that is bipartisanship. (You might remember there was almost none of it in the last Congress, and not much expected in this one either.) North Carolina politics was for such a long time dominated—and I do mean dominated—by the Democratic Party, that people kind of got used to it. Tar Heels just did not cotton to that Republicanism which moved in with the carpetbaggers during what the North called “Reconstruction,” following what we called, at best, the War Between the States, but more often, the War of Northern Aggression.

It took a century for admitted Republicans to be looked on as merely eccentric, rather than subversive. Nowadays, after a couple of Governors, US Senators and Representatives, and a passel of local officials got elected under the banner of the GOP, Republicans have reached parity with Democrats, and zealously practice the right to be “on the contrary.” Just like Democrats. But among all this “my way or no way” line of thought, the victim, of course, is bipartisanship. There is little amiable “we’ll work it out” feeling. The House is divided. And, as we all know, a House divided cannot plan.

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