The GOP in North Carolina: Large and In-charge!

It’s time to Break It Down!

In 2010, the GOP engineered the first two steps of a political metamorphosis in North Carolina.  The November election, greatly influenced by a surging Tea Party, sent Republican majorities into both Houses of the State Legislature.  Those results delivered with the change, a new reality.  It had been more than a century since the GOP controlled both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly.

The ramifications were swift and impactful.  The Right leaning legislators used their new bicameral majority to control Decennial Redistricting that occurs after each Census.  Then came 2012, when the GOP added the third tier to their 3-part coup, by winning the Governorship.  The three-way sweep marked the first time since 1870 that the GOP had controlled all three elements of State Government.

The campaigns of Pat McCrory and a number of GOP legislative candidates received significant boost from Art Pope.  The multimillionaire’s heavy spending augmented the GOP’s efforts to retain and expand their advantageous foothold on the North Carolina State Government landscape.  According to the Institute for Southern Studies, a North Carolina-based research organization, says Mr. Pope’s advocacy network spent $2.2 million on 22 legislative races, 18 of which the GOP won.  In a macro assessment, the Institute determined that conservative organizations, largely supported by Pope, accounted for three-fourths of the outside money spent in North Carolina legislative races in 2010.

Politics have long been a rough and tumble endeavor.  In the purest essence, it is a matter of “To the victor go the spoils!” You might say it is often the guiding principle of politics.  In keeping with this truism, one of Governor McCrory’s first acts was to install Mr. Pope, a former State Legislator, as the State’s Budget Chief.  Now, the Party is moving swiftly to enact a long list of legislative imperatives that they say will limit government debt and snap the State’s economy out of a years-long malaise.

The erstwhile Party of Lincoln has undertaken what some might call a terrorist agenda.  North Carolina GOP Legislators have: 

  • Dramatically slashed jobless benefits
  • Repealed a tax credit that supplemented wages of low income people
  • Moved to eliminate the estate tax
  • Voted against expanding Medicaid to (required) to comply with the 2010 federal Health Care law     (The expansion would have added 500,000 poor North Carolinians to the Medicaid rolls)
  • The North Carolina House has passed a law requiring voters to have a government-issued identification card
  • Legislators are considering a bills to roll back the State’s law allowing same-day voter registration and to sharply limit early voting (measures that were integral to the high turnout of minority voters in the past several elections

Penda Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, a Washington-based civil rights group, has stated, “I don’t know that there is a State that has as many regressive policies on tap (as North Carolina).  Ms. Hair’s group is considering filing a lawsuit challenging changes to the North  Carolina’s voting laws. 

Meanwhile, the State’s NAACP has been organizing weekly protests each Monday (since April) to highlight opposition to the conservative policies the State GOP is considering and enacting.  This past Monday, police arrested 151 protesters.  Police estimate the crowd to have consisted of roughly 1,000; activist groups say it was about 1,600.  The crowds and arrest numbers have been growing each week. 

Yesterday, Governor McCrory called on the NAACP to end the protests.  The Governor indicated the demonstrations were unlawful and put a strain on resources.  He added, he has no interest in meeting with the protesters.  All in all, an interesting response.  I wonder if he has researched the history of civil disobedience.    

Groups participating in the protests have ranged from abortion-rights supporters to environmentalists and public educators.  Participants have been seeking to call attention to the rightward shift of the State Legislature.  It is conceivable that protests, litigation threats, and general discontent by liberals and centrists will eventually stem and turn the tide of conservatism that has taken hold of The Old North State.  However, the contemporary truth is that for now, like it or not, there is a New Normal…and that reality is – “The GOP in North Carolina: Large and In-charge!”  Deal with it North   Carolina! 

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