With Republicans controlling both houses of the legislature and the Governor’s mansion, the divide in Raleigh today is far less about partisanship than about the rural-urban split in the state. For his part, Pat McCrory brings the perspective of a big city mayor and his priorities reflect that. In contrast, the legislature is heavily influenced by rural and suburban leaders who resent the growth and power of urban centers. Their fight is making everybody losers.

McCrory’s budget guts economic development programs like the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Rural Center that have helped small towns and agricultural centers across the state. His transportation plan heavily focuses on the needs of cities and connecting urban centers. It’s all part of his competition-is-the-answer approach to governing. Unfortunately for rural areas, that competition looks like a one-on-one match up between LaBron James and Pee Wee Herman.

The legislature, for its part, is doing everything it can to stifle growth of our urban centers. They’ve taken municipal assets, they’re restricting sources of revenue, they’re limiting the ability to grow and they are using authoritarian methods to meddle in local politics, even though cities are driving our economic growth. That’s like benching LeBron because he’s scoring too many points.

Both sides seem to miss the fact that the state and its people are interconnected. McCrory’s “create competition” approach means creating winners and losers, as if we won’t have to take care of the losers anyway. The insecure and immature legislature is trying to rein in “arrogant” cities without realizing that their own survival is dependent on the growth and success of those same cities. Both approaches encourage an “us-them” mentality that divides instead of unifies our state. We don’t need a lose-lose situation.


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