North Carolina’s recent political disagreements have brought us attention from everyone from the New York Times to the Washington Post, and last week even Grover Norquist got in on the action. Norquist’s piece basically compared the political situation in North Carolina to that of Wisconsin back in 2010. Norquist prognosticated that much like in Wisconsin, the righteous, tax-cutting Republicans would be vindicated in their attempts by lower unemployment, businesses flocking to the state, and Republican approval ratings skyrocketing. Unfortunately for Grover and NC Republicans, his entire argument is based on a false premise.
The idea that the situation in North Carolina today is analogous to that of Wisconsin in 2010 is the fault of reporters (and pundits) trying to find an easy comparison rather than really researching the political situation here in depth. Wisconsin was largely a one issue situation, or at least all of the issues being debated there focused on a central core of collective bargaining and workers rights. Wisconsin had thousands of protesters supported by national Unions providing personnel and material support to the protesters. It also had nightly coverage from all of the major news sources, and daily coverage from the 24 hour news networks. None of this applies to the case of North Carolina’s Legislature and the Moral Monday protest movement.
Grover’s piece suggested that the protests all focused on the issues taxes and the State budget. Now admittedly I’m pretty sure that Mr. Norquist is genetically incapable of thinking that anything is unrelated to tax issues, but in North Carolina’s case taxes are like the eighth or ninth biggest issue on the protesters list of grievances. If he had bothered looking into the issues at all Mr. Norquist, champion of small government that he is, might have been siding with the protesters. Protesters taking issue with massive government overreach, and decrying a legislature who wants the hand of state government to reach into local water systems, airports, school boards, judicial elections and even people’s bedrooms and (sorry ladies) uteruses, seem like natural, if unlikely allies for a man who once said he wanted government small enough to “drown in a bathtub”.
In fact the Wisconsin comparison seems to derive solely from an op-ed from John Hood, ideological hatchet man for Art Pope and the John Locke Foundation, describing it that way. This just proves the old political axiom, “Never believe your own hype.” The Moral Monday protests aren’t simply about taxes, they’re about social issues, and education, local control and political disenfranchisement. More than anything they’re a grassroots movement of people who feel they’re legislators don’t represent them and don’t listen to their voices. They’re not the actions of people who have the attention of the national media or large national interest groups, they’re simply people making their voices heard in literally the only way they can think of to do it.
So Grover, before you go making broad comparisons, maybe you should actually examine the issues. Yes, you were vindicated in Wisconsin, but being right once doesn’t mean you can just universally apply that situation to everything. The next time you’re going to pass judgment on movements you know nothing about, do your damn homework first.