Watching the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress is like watching a bad sequel to North Carolina 2013. Back then, Republicans roared into Raleigh with full control of state government. They had voting rights, immigrants, gun control, LGBT rights, and access to abortion in their sights. Today, Trump and the GOP in Washington have the same targets. The goal is undisputed power.
Making silencers legal again? That’s old hat. North Carolina passed that four years ago. Bashing Muslims? The NC GOP passed an anti-Sharia law back in 2013 just to let them know their place. Banning transgender people in the military? That’s child’s play. In North Carolina, the Republicans don’t even want to let them use public bathrooms. Stripping away voting rights by pushing the myth of voter fraud? Our Republicans pioneered that strategy.
The common threads in the sequels are fear of minorities, disrespect for democracy and embracing authoritarianism. In North Carolina, the GOP has steadfastly attacked any threat to their power. They gerrymandered themselves into safe districts while attempting to suppress the votes of people who would disagree with them, primarily minorities and young people. They quickly moved to strip power from the Office of Governor when the people said they wanted a Democrat, Roy Cooper, in that office. The will of the people holds little interest to the Republicans running the legislature.
Trump is using the same playbook. He’s appointed former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to disenfranchise as many dissenters as possible. In North Carolina, we know what he’s doing and who he’s targeting because we were in the original. Trump’s doing all he can to make sure that Muslims and immigrants know that they’re not welcome in this country. While Republicans like to make the point that there’s a difference between illegal and legal immigrants, Trump’s not made much of a distinction. His point is that they’re all different and they’re a threat to real Americans (i.e., white people).
In North Carolina, we’ve seen this show before. We watched the original up close and personal. Republicans use race and fear to divide us. They’ve abandoned the small government vision of Reagan conservatism for the authoritarianism of people determined to hold power at any cost. They willingly trample on the rights of minorities while casting themselves as victims of a changing society. Traditional conservatives turn a blind eye and compromise their principles in exchange for lower taxes and less regulation. In return, we get greater inequality in both income and power. And the sequel is every bit as disturbing as the original.