The GOP has control of North Carolina for the first time in more than 100 years. It’s not going to end well–for North Carolina or the GOP. As Rob Christensen writes, they’ve embarrassed the state and themselves.

As a state, we’ll suffer under policies that harm our public schools and our once vaunted university system. We’ll have guns in our bars, on college campuses, at sporting events and in parks. The tax burden will shift from the wealthy and corporations to the middle-class and poor. None of this nonsense will attract the type of businesses or entrepreneurs that made North Carolina a destination state for the past 40 years.

But as a party, the GOP is likely hurting itself. Their social policies, like access to abortion or gay rights, will lose a generation of young people, particularly women, for the foreseeable future. Their stances on voting rights and immigration reform alienate the fastest growing segments of our population. They may be able to hold on to power a few more cycles with their gerrymandered districts, but they will almost certainly lose the support and confidence of a majority of the state’s residents, making it difficult for Republicans to win statewide. Within a decade, they will be a permanent minority party.

However, an alternative version of the story could emerge. North Carolina becomes a state where education and innovation don’t matter much. It competes at the bottom of the economic food chain for low-skilled, low-paying jobs. Our middle-class shrinks as the most educated of the workforce move to other states with more supportive environments. Instead of producing world-class scientists and inventors, we return the days of producing comedy-inducing TV preachers. In essence, we become a state made up of rich people and ignorant people with a heavy helping of those who are both.

The overwhelming success of the Moral Monday protests indicates that the first scenario is more likely, but progressives should not discount the second. We need to move from rallies and slogans to elections and paid media. It’s time to field and train candidates for upcoming municipal elections so we have qualified candidates to eventually run for legislature and higher office. It’s time for our wealthy supporters to open their wallets so we can start telling our side of the story to those who decide elections but don’t read the newspaper.

The GOP may be making the mess, but it’s still our job to clean it up.

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