The eastern part of our state is plagued by hog pollution. The problem has lingered for years, and we need stricter rules to mitigate it. But Republicans see things differently. A new bill casts the polluters as victims and seeks to protect them from powerless neighbors. This is happening for reasons that run deeper than simple venality. Indeed, the episode reflects one of the core problems with GOP rule.
Rep. Jimmy Dixon is clearly in bed with special interests. During his brief career, he’s taken a staggering $115,000 from pork concerns. His individual motivations are clear enough. But in a broadly functional party, there would be powers to push back against him. No such people exist in the Republican caucus.
That’s because the NCGOP has no representation from groups that view agricultural issues from a different perspective. The House GOP caucus is exclusively Caucasian. This stifles the concerns of African-American landowners who are the main victims of hog refuse. And the heavily white caucus is dominated by rural conservatives of a corporate bent, the people least inclined to question agribusiness. Such a unified perspective is what allowed Speaker Tim Moore to rush the bill through with no dissent.
The benefits of a diverse government stretch well beyond issues of identity and culture. All issues of the public interest affect the entire public. People who live in different places will have different views of natural resource use; people who think differently about the world add another angle to the debate. Demographic and ideological diversity ensure that proposals will be thoroughly interrogated. The Republican Party’s homogeneous composition not only threatens them politically, it threatens the health and welfare of all of their constituents.
Especially those unwelcome in the elephants’ tent.