Look, I understand right-wingers aren’t disconcerted by their radical agenda. It’s also true that status anxiety shouldn’t dictate policy. As this site emphasizes, the public interest must come before private concerns, including vanity. At this point, however, the legislature really needs to reconsider the image of North Carolina it is projecting to the world.
Case in point: An excruciating report by the Washington Post business desk about the circus in Raleigh. The piece sends a horrifying and basically accurate message to businessmen around the country who know little else about this state. Just as worrying were the more than 5,000 reader comments, almost all of them contemptuous. Far from web-dwelling recluses, they are the real people these articles influence.
Moreover, what reservations they now harbor could be justified. Although they won’t encounter the barbarism of Hollywood caricature, trips to this state may eventually bring them into tetes-a-tetes with sickening government policies. Consider the recent Senate proposal to make psychiatrists the supplicants of bureaucrats. Any person whose loved one suffers from brain disease would cringe.
Still worse, America’s democratic norms encourage people to think politicians have the backing of their constituents. That said, to paraphrase essayist Leon Wieseltier, “the legislature of North Carolina does not have the right to make the people of North Carolina look as indecent as they are. They have the power, but they do not have the right.” No, nothing written by a liberal will persuade conservatives to change their ways, at least for now. But one day, Republicans will look in the mirror and realize what the rest of America sees. And they will finally be embarrassed.