Remember when Republicans liked less government? 

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 4 comments

I liked the Republicans more when they were the party of limited government. Of course, I probably liked them because they were also in minority back then. Still, they used to oppose government interference in our lives and institutions. Their adhered to the saying “The best government is that which governs least.” Today, they’re trying to regulate everything from menstrual cycles to school curriculums. 

It’s disturbing to watch big government conservatives run through educational systems, waving mandates and demanding courses. Right now, they’re pushing their anti-CRT bill based on bad information. They are continuing their attempt to write a skewed version of history into the law. They are also trying to require university and community college students to pass a history course in oder to graduate. I’m a history guy, and this sure seems like heavy-handed government to me. 

I don’t think anybody is teaching CRT to kids in public schools, and if they are teaching something similar, it’s being taught in areas where most people agree that race has been major factor in shaping our history. That’s really about local control, something Republicans used to tout. It’s also ironic that a bunch of mostly White legislators are concerned that our children will somehow be indoctrinated when almost all of them are products of the indoctrination that taught Confederates were honorable but misguided heroes for the past 150 years.

I don’t believe you can give an accounting of American history, especially in South, without an accounting of the role race played in shaping almost all aspects of society. If you grew up in a small town, there was a White side of town and Black side of town–and the Black side of town was usually on poorer terrain. Just look at the flooding in places like Princeville and Fair Bluff after recent hurricanes. It’s no coincidence that the most heavily flooded places were inhabited largely by African Americans. If you’re as old as me you remember segregated restaurants, doctor’s offices, movie theaters, and schools. Churches are still largely segregated. 

Ignoring the role places like Wilmington, Tulsa, and Rosewood played in the Black experience in America is every bit as indoctrinating as CRT. History helps us recognize our shortcomings and strengths. It teaches lessons about to how to govern and how to live. It helps us understand the perspective of people who had different experiences than us. The story of Black people in America is one of overcoming adversity and a fight for equality that is ongoing. That needs to be taught in school, especially in the South.

As for teaching history in college, I really don’t see the purpose in teaching history to somebody who is in a community college course learning to become a graphic designer. I think liberal arts colleges should be teaching American history, but I don’t believe the legislature needs to be mandating college curricula. Neither do proponents of small government, unless, of course, they aren’t really proponents of small government at all.

Finally, Republicans seem poised to limit access to abortion in North Carolina. In other words, they are going to insert themselves between patients and doctors. Again, that’s not small government. That’s big government imposing their religious views on the rest of us. I suspect the backlash to Republican overreach on abortion is just getting started. It might take another decade, but they will pay a serious price for their heavy-handedness. 

In South Carolina last week, legislators proposed a bill that would allow the death penalty for abortion. That bill might not pass, but 21 legislators signed on it. In Idaho, they’ve already passed laws that hold providers accountable with jail terms and fines that start at $20,000. One doctor had to send a patient out of state in an ambulance to get an abortion that saved her life, but she almost died before she got to the other hospital. These states are going to see an exodus of OB-GYNs. In Idaho, it’s already started. They are literally running doctors out of their states. 

Over the coming years, we’ll be divided between states where you can get proper health care and those where God will determine your fate. Corporations and entrepreneurs will follow the doctors, not the tax rates. Half the country will become more like Mississippi or Alabama and the other will become prosperous, modern societies. And the ones looking increasingly like theocracies will whine that the elites are discriminating against them. 

The GOP is increasingly authoritarian in their view of government. Not only do they want to control women’s bodies, they want to control the historical narrative. Their attempts to impose their will and their ignorance on people will result in further sorting as doctors, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, corporations, and minorities opt for more open-minded places to live and do business. North Carolina is a state on the cusp. Let’s hope Republicans drop their desire to micromanage and get back to their more libertarian instincts. We need less government regulation of our personal lives as much as we might need it for our businesses.


  1. cocodog

    Back in Ronald Wilson Reagan’s day, religion addressed how we should treat each other, not how a state should treat an individual. The best example of this is the much-misunderstood Supreme Court ruling of the Wade case. Although many believe the court specifically addressed the right of an individual to obtain an abortion, which in a general sense it did. (Abortion was part of the fact pattern of the case) However, the under-laying and less obvious reason behind the decision related to how the state should interact with folks residing within its borders.
    The court upheld the right of privacy by saying the state has no right to stick its nose into a matter that should be left to the individual. This is where religious values come into play. Those who believe the state should be able to stick its nose into the privacy of its residents and force that individual to live by the rules defined by their religious values believe their religious values are superior to and supersede any right afforded by the constitution. Other than violating the notion of separation of church and state, which the drafters regarded as essential as they saw how a king used religion to further his corrupt agenda to the basic idea that this country is composed of folks of different faiths, or in some instances none, each having its own unique twist on what is correct.
    Freedom of religion is the right of an individual to believe what he or she pleases, (to the extent that belief does not pose a threat to the life of the individual or interfere with the lawful rights of others.
    I am not a huge fan of St. Ronnie as I grew up in California and watched his ascension from a B actor to president. For the most part those wise phrases he made and revered by his followers were nothing more than rephrased lines from one of his B movies written by somebody else. He was not an original thinker just an actor playing a role, something he did all his life. A perfect example of the now famous Reagan quote “I am from the government, and I am here to help” was nothing more than a rephrasing of a line from his TV series “Death Valley Days” or Bonzo films. Perhaps, Republicans should consider taking Ronnies lines seriously and allow religion to go back to what it is intended to be a guide line for how we treat each other, not how the state should treat the individual.

  2. Mike

    Republicans in NC are pushing the CRT nonsense, per an article in just today’s Wilmington newspaper. They should just sign on to whatever Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) says, i.e., slavery wasn’t so bad, really. It gave those African pagans Christianity, after all. Genocide of the indigenous population? Says who??? And of course they insist the Civil War was actually the “War of Northern Aggression”.

  3. JB

    Republicans are all about federalism right up to the point where it gets in the way of doing the thing they are told to do by their wealthy patrons. As soon as that conflict arises and thwarts the agenda of a Leonard Leo or a Tony Perkins or James Dobson, we’ll then it’s federalism be damned.

    This is no different than the Republican opposition to deficit spending or raising the debt ceiling. If they hold the majority, there won’t be a peep out of them. But if they can use it as a bludgeon? Their “fiscal responsibility” proves as situational as their ethics.

    This is not new. The Reagan Administration started the movement to overturn Roe as soon as they took office. All while using the notion of small government to take the guardrails off of the banking industry and begin the work that would eventually lead us to the crash of 2008. The boardroom was strictly off limits, but the bedroom was scarcely big enough for you and the Morality Police.

  4. bremerjennifer

    I could see requiring college students to attend a two-hour session covering basic civics information and having to take a test immediately afterwards, although I’m not sure it should be a degree requirement. I remember when you had to demonstrate you could swim to graduate from an Ivy League school, at least if you were a guy (we Barnard women were encouraged but not required to take a swimming class if we couldn’t swim). But, of course, any college requirement would fail to reach a whole lot of people who are at least as much in need of this information as college kids. Maybe the legislative leaders are less concerned about them, even though a lot of them are their voters.

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