To progressive eyes, the first few months of this session looked like a natural disaster. Catastrophe after catastrophe rolled down from the government, scary and utterly beyond our control. Dread and hopelessness seemed like the appropriate emotional response. Just as the real hurricane season hits, however, the era of damage control may have begun.

Not to stretch the metaphor too far, but the Moral Monday demonstrators function as a disaster response team. Despite their protestations to the contrary, Republicans are clearly rattled by this movement. For example, Governor McCrory’s speech at the state Republican convention was defensive and a little paranoid–far from the triumphal remarks he had surely looked forward to giving. A few conservatives, the governor included, have resorted to the disgraceful tactic of dismissing their opponents as rabble rousers and agitators, outsiders who can’t be trusted. Not much has changed yet, but our citizens have broken the Republicans’ psychological momentum.

Even in the policy arena, Republicans show subtle signs of hesitation. The N&O recently reported the Administration is coaching staffers on how to justify unemployment cuts, which is not a task confident libertarians would worry about. McCrory himself tried to head off the backlash against bigger class sizes with some hot air about testing. That won’t work. A crowded classroom is a crowded classroom, regardless of a gubernatorial grin.

To be clear: Hurricane Pat is far from over. Quiet signs of wavering mean nothing to a sick woman on the street or a little boy who can’t learn. More damage is coming, but the pain ahead is just steel in progressive spines. Through strength and resilience, the people may yet downgrade this torrent to a tropical storm.

 

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