Governor Bev Perdue insists that she was just joshing when she called for the suspension of congressional elections. If so, the governor is probably not quite ready for Comedy Central. The American Spectator notes:
North Carolina's punditry collectively scratched their heads, however, when audio of Perdue's bizarre suggestion emerged. It's obvious she isn't joking. For a joke to be a joke, there are prerequisites. A big one is that someone needs to laugh, or at least chuckle. I don't care if it's one person in the back row. If no one laughs — as no one did after Perdue's comment (heck, there isn't even nervous coughing) — it's not a joke, whatever was intended. To try to spin Perdue's remark as jest is funnier than the original remark.
Here is what Perdue said:
"I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover," Perdue said. "I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. You want people who don't worry about the next election."
Now, that is not funny. Here is one of the most profoundly anti-democratic sentences ever uttered by an elected official in ths country: "You want people who don't worry about the next election."
Not in a democracy, hon. Yes, we hope the people we elect have courage to stand alone if that is necessary. But we also want them to worry about the next election: that is because, according to the theory of American sovereignty, power derives from the consent of the governed. Elections are the key way in which the governed express their will.
One of the reasons the tea party is so reviled is that it is saying just the opposite of what North Carolina's hilarious governor is saying. The tea party is saying, "If you keep taking our money and spending it on things we hate, we will elect somebody else." This, Governor Perdue, is how we've been doing it in these parts since-oh-since about September of 1787, when the Constitution was signed.
Would Governor Perdue have made her joke if Democratic control of the U.S. Senate were assured? Just asking. In the American Spectator piece, David Bass makes some points about the immediate political situation that might have been lurking behind the governor's "humor:"
To comprehend fully, one must understand the present political dynamics in North Carolina. At the national level, the Tar Heel State is ground zero for the 2012 presidential race. To gauge how seriously President Obama takes winning the state, look at where the Democratic National Convention will be held next year: Charlotte.
At the state level, it's a different picture. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans are picking up steam. The GOP reclaimed both chambers of the state legislature in 2010. (As a colleague of mine said, maybe Perdue meant to say that the 2010 election should have been canceled). If a GOP-friendly redistricting plan holds up in court, Republicans have a solid shot at controlling the state house for the next decade, and beyond.
The scenario is equally dire for Democrats at the gubernatorial level. Two words explain why Perdue won her first term in 2008: Obama's coattails. Then-candidate Obama's ground game in North Carolina was astounding, and the year decidedly favored Democrats running for state office. Even so, Perdue barely eked out a win by 144,969 votes out of over 4 million cast.
As I did yesterday, Bass links the governor's anti-democratic fantasy world to former Obama OMB director Peter Orszag's profoundly anti-democratic musings in the New Republic.
Still, Bass doesn't think that Perdue's off-the-cuff remark was seriously calling for suspension of elections-it was a Freudian slip:
At the same time, it's fair to call the comment a Freudian slip. Still reeling from the 2010 shellacking, and pensively anticipating another brutal trip to the electoral whipping post next year, Perdue let slip a private fantasy nursed by North Carolina Democrats: man, wouldn't it be great to do away with this whole democracy thing?
When it comes to comedy, Governor Perdue should keep her day job.
But only so long as the citizens of North Carolina want her.