By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist
Even authoritarian regimes like Russia’s pretend to respect the right to vote. The contrast with authentic democracies is defined by these factors: the ease or difficulty of actually casting a vote, how honestly it is counted, and whether it even matters.
Democracy in North Carolina is failing miserably on two of them.
First, the Republican majority in Raleigh rigged the voting districts to guarantee their control of the General Assembly even before the people’s votes are cast and counted. The parties are contesting barely half the seats this year. Nearly a third are entirely unopposed.
By John Beckman • Columnist
After the hard winter of sub-zero temperatures, heavy snows and power outages our region and much of the nation has seen in 2014, I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of people desperately hoping for an early spring. For them, the end of winter — with frozen pipes, cars in ditches, wet muddy clothes and way too much “emergency living” — cannot come soon enough.
It's not just the usual lot of spring-fevered gardeners and farmers chomping to get the first peas and mustards in the ground, or the hikers, birders and climbers looking for a chance to enjoy their hobbies with fewer chances of freezing to death. People in the construction and landscaping/grading business are likewise hoping for a stretch in the weather when the ground is neither frozen solid or too soupy to work, if you can get to the job to start with.