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.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >
First of all competition is good. Even those that lose have to reach deeper and do better just to compete so it forces all to improve. Why would you expect someone that lives in point A to pay extra money to keep up area B if area B is not doing what is needed to take care of itself? The Governor and the Assembly have to do what is best for the whole state. They can’t just fix the little towns or the areas in the larger towns where the public will not do for themselves. They have to work in the areas that offer the largest chance for overall improvement. As for the Golden Leaf Foundation and several other state funds, they were just slush funds the Democrats used and abused to buy votes. And of course the athletic metaphor did nothing to improve or support any argument.
Thanks, Thomas, but the slush funds for votes thing doesn’t work out real well since many of the areas that have benefitted most from Golden Leaf, the Tobacco Trust Fund and others are represented by Republicans. We can either invest in these areas now and help create businesses and jobs or we can pay for them as they descend into economic despair.
Yup, that makes sense Alex. Exurbs and suburbs are pretty different, demographically. The Dems are getting clobbered in the exurbs, and my intuition is that they relate to the city differently than the suburbanites. Sports teams, arts, festivals, schools and more tie suburbanites to their city, and it becomes a part of their identity, as comfy and normal as a pair of jeans with a few oil stains. In my experience, exurbanites don’t have the same relationship.
I agree, but I think Thomas is referring more to conservative exurbs like Zebulon than to, say, North Raleigh.
I agree with the idea that the urban-rural split is looming large on the political scene in NC. I have trouble believing how hostile this legislature is to cities in general. Cities are the engines of economic growth, and the (mostly rural) legislature are poking them with sticks at their peril The silencer bill is an example: rural folks, many of whom may not see a stranger for days at a time, might see it as helping Jeb and Roscoe get their deer, but urbanites, who see dozens of strangers before starting work, see it as making murder just that much easier. It just seems incomprehensibly stupid, and a good reason not to vote Republican, like so many other bills from this session. I don’t think the suburbanites as a population harbor much hostility to cities either, never mind what their legislators are up to. The Republicans seem intent on alienating the wealthier demographics in the state, which seems like strategic suicide. Pass the popcorn!