We the people have the power to change nonsensical bills. Here's how.

By now, you've probably heard about North Carolina's HB2 "bathroom bill" — or at least the response to it.

Even if you're not typically someone who follows North Carolina state politics (there are only so many hours in the day), it's likely you've seen stories about musicians like Bruce Springsteen boycotting the state, the NBA moving its 2017 all-star game to Louisiana, a Broadway composer speaking out, or the NCAA adjusting its tournament schedule as a result of the March 2016 law.

In September 2016, the NCAA announced it would move seven championship games out of the state. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.


The part of the law that's received the most focus has to do with whether transgender people should be allowed to use bathrooms that match their gender identity (as they have been, to your knowledge or not, for pretty much forever).

The law's proponents believe trans people should have to use bathrooms that match whatever gender is on their birth certificate — a legal document that is notoriously difficult, and sometimes impossible, to update — which causes a host of issues we've written about before.

North Carolina's Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the controversial bill into law in March 2016. Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images.

In other words, it's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad law. On top of that, just 32% of the state's voters approve of it, the cancelled events and boycotts aren't exactly helping the state's economy, it's giving the governor headaches in his re-election bid, and lawmakers have had to allocate $500,000 in emergency funding for the law's legal defense.

So, why do legislatures sometimes pass unpopular laws that don't seem to make sense? It's complicated (and very frustrating).

The same goes for questions about why sometimes things that are very popular don't become law no matter how much of a slam dunk they seem. (For example, requiring background checks before purchasing a gun is supported by nearly 90% of Americans, but there's still not been a lot of lawmaking movement on that issue.)

In a 2013 article for the National Review (later republished by The Atlantic), authors Elahe Izadi and Clare Foran explore this issue, landing on something most of us would probably rather not have to deal with: "procedural shenanigans." That phrase, used in the article by an aide to Senator Harry Reid, sums up many of the baffling struggles that exist in the legislative process.

Let's take a look at a real-life example of "procedural shenanigans": our response to the Zika virus.

A real-life example would be something like what's currently going on with Zika funding. Hopefully, we can all agree that the Zika virus is bad (it is), and that the federal government is needed to help fight it (they should). Well, currently, $1.1 billion in funding is being held up in Congress.

Who's fault is this? Well, if you listen to Republicans, it's the Democrats' fault.

But if you ask Democrats, it's the Republicans' fault.

The truth is that this funding is being held up by things that have nothing to do with the Zika virus — they're only tangentially related to the issue. In this case, it's a battle over whether or not we should ban the Confederate flag from flying in veterans' cemeteries (Republicans are against this ban) or if Planned Parenthood should be blocked from receiving additional funding (Democrats are against this block).

Mosquitoes carry the Zika virus. Photo by Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

It's frustrating, but it happens all the time. Legislators will try to hold certain bills hostage to get something else they want. Or maybe they'll try to tack on an amendment designed to torpedo the bill (also known as a poison pill). This is politics as usual, but it's not right.

That's why it's important to hold lawmakers accountable. Whether this is about the bill in North Carolina, the holdup on the Zika funding, or anything else, we have leverage of our own.

Elected officials are meant to represent the views of their constituency. While we can write letters to our state, local, and federal representatives urging votes on clean pieces of legislation, that's not all. We can protest, we can make our voices heard, and we can make it known that we don't stand for a piece of legislation.

A popular hashtag for opponents of HB2 is #WeAreNotThis. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.

And if that doesn't work, we can vote officials out and try again with someone new. It's easy to feel helpless when it comes to politics, but as a voter, you're anything but.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

It's always a good time to register to vote. If you're not already, take a few moments today to take control of your power.

True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less