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Along with other protestors the professor was evicted from the State Senate gallery by the police. Then, a day or so later, he published an op-ed but he didn’t argue the legislature stripping Roy Cooper of his power was illegal – he called it a breach of trust.

Since the majority of people had voted for Roy Cooper, he said, that majority could no longer trust the people in the legislature.

The professor went on to say the root of the problem was redistricting: That legislators had used redistricting to shift the balance of power away from people to themselves so they were no longer accountable, as a practical matter, to voters.  

Now, of course, a Republican legislator would probably answer, I didn’t ignore the will of the people. The majority of the people in my district – who elected me – wanted to strip Roy Cooper of his power.

Then the Professor would probably say, You’re saying a majority in a Republican district matters more than a majority of the people statewide – who voted for Cooper? How is that right?

Years ago, Theodore White wrote a book about Watergate. Nixon wasn’t impeached, he wrote, because his campaign burglarized the Democratic Party’s headquarters. Nixon was impeached because two years later, when the cover-up unraveled, he was caught red-handed lying to the American people.

The way White saw it there are laws and Constitutions that govern how Democracies work but, beyond that, there are also unwritten codes and traditions that make up what he called the ‘public trust.’ White said that trust was key because it allowed the man in the street to accept Nixon in the White House even when he didn’t like Nixon or agree with him.

And when Nixon shattered those unwritten codes he destroyed that public trust and had to go.

Of course, that all happened over forty years ago. Times have changed. Unwritten codes may not matter anymore.

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