Do NC Republicans Risk Going the Way of the NC Whigs?

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Politics | 1 comment

North Carolina has a long history of political competition–and of parties being undone by that competition. The Whig Party reigned over Raleigh throughout the 1840s, growing complacent and deflecting demands from the voters even as their position quietly grew precarious. With war and Reconstruction in between, the Whigs’ old Democratic foes would assume control for over a century and lose it in a spectacular midterm landslide. Tar Heels mete out punishment to politicians who grow too comfortable in power.

I bring up this musty old history because occasionally Toni Morrison’s dictum about cliche holds true: What is said often, beings to accumulate wisdom. In this instance, the operative nostrum is that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The historical dunces in question are the Republican majority legislators in the NC General Assembly. Extremists advancing an agenda with greater aggression than at any time since the McCrory era, GOP leaders risk losing a majority they seem to believe has permanently accrued to their party.

The callousness of conservative men on the issue of abortion has been striking even to this cynical observer. Their argument, it appears to me, is that truncating women’s access to the procedure by 40% constitutes a “mainstream” policy reform. It doesn’t occur seem to have occurred to them that real women fail to see the commonsense in transforming their bodies into common property. Outside of the men’s club that is NCGOP headquarters, women are incensed at seeing their fundamental rights traduced. Despite this outrage, the Republican Party still plans to proffer an open misogynist as their gubernatorial nominee. The clear message all this sends is one of unvarnished contempt for women.

The right-wing cultural war machine is rumbling ahead on the issue of trans rights. This session, top legislators have introduced a raft of attacks on the transgender community. While some of these aggressive moves may command a measure of support from cisgender voters, the overall thrust of hostility is likely to cause repulsion. No one has forgotten HB2. The NCGOP, almost uniquely among state Republican parties, holds no credibility or goodwill on the trans-rights issue.

The GOP, in short, is almost spitting in the faces of mainstream swing voters. And their attempts to insure against backlash only buttress the feeling of disdain. What they plan to do is amp up their base into culture-war ecstasy while suppressing the avenues of democratic redress available to the disaffected. This is authoritarianism. In a state with a rich history of resistance, the response may be more pungent than our smug rules seem to expect.

1 Comment

  1. ringlet86

    On social issues Democrats have gone insane. No wonder people are walking away in droves.

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