Standing in the schoolhouse door

by | Jun 12, 2015 | Editor's Blog, Gay Marriage, National Politics | 21 comments

With the override of Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, the rebranding of North Carolina that McCrory promised when he took office is complete. We’re no longer that enlightened Southern state that was a destination for high tech companies and tourists. We’re now another Southern backwater full of narrow-minded, anti-intellectual hicks. It’s been a dramatic transformation.

The first hint of upheaval began when the Senate made it clear in 2013 that North Carolina wouldn’t extend Medicaid or build a state exchange for Obamacare, regardless of what McCrory or then-Speaker Thom Tillis wanted. It went down hill from there. A couple of legislators introduced a bill to institute a state religion. The bill didn’t pass but it made the country take notice that strange stuff was going on in North Carolina.

By the summer of 2013, people around the country were asking “What’s happening in North Carolina?” The New York Times wrote a scathing editorial titled “The Decline of North Carolina.” Moral Monday protests were drawing thousands of people to Raleigh and drawing national attention to cuts in education, restrictions on abortion, and efforts to limit access to the voting booth.

Conservatives blamed Democratic activists and the liberal media for the bad press. But they continued to raise eyebrows. The ouster of UNC President Tom Ross for no apparent reason sent shockwaves across the higher education community. One consultant charged with finding Ross’ replacement said, “Folks from Boston to Berkeley kept saying, ‘Jerry, what’s going on in North Carolina?’ It doesn’t feel right to people afar when they look at what we’re doing here.”

Meanwhile, McCrory and company are spouting “Carolina Comeback!” all over social media and at every press conference, trying to change the narrative. It hasn’t worked. We’re recovering from the recession like every other state in the nation but nobody’s looking at us as a model for recovery. On the contrary, they’re watching states like South Carolina get better press and land bigger companies than us.

The override of Senate Bill 2 completes the rebranding. While society and states across the nation are more accepting of the LGBT community, North Carolina is telling its citizens that it’s okay to discriminate. Instead of being the Southern state carefully navigating the changing social structure, we’re now the one standing in the schoolhouse door. That’s our brand today and that’s how history will remember us. 

Ironically, McCrory rebranded himself as much as he rebranded the state. When he was elected, North Carolina and the nation thought he was a moderate force who would balance the most regressive instincts of the legislature and push a pro-business agenda while steering clear of social issues. Today, he’s seen as a hapless weakling who lacks the political conviction to make a solid argument and lacks the political skill to build support for an agenda.

Our new motto should be “Closed eyes, narrow-minds, can’t win.”


  1. Russell Scott Day

    If the gerrymandering is overcome by massive turnout in every election from now till doomsday, and all those opposed have the courage to speak out as Thomas Mills here has, then this bit of wreckage to the reputation of NC will be erased.
    In Carrboro I live in a power system where the University has the 14th Century sort of powers equal to the University Power that decided which Pope was the true Pope.
    I do not see the Intellectual Leadership invested in the University Leaders being properly exercised.
    The place for all to focus is the Transportation Plan first, and the Energy Plan as well. Energy is the key to Civilization. I have appealed to the Administrative offices of Chancellor Woodson, hoping to get him to give evidence of all the renewable energy resources that could provide the same and more energy to NC as any of the legacy ways of getting for the people the Energy we need.
    I hope that any reading this with good long term relations with NCSU and A&T will help me cause the awareness of Energy options and technology our engineering community has designed.
    The Transportation Plan is not known much about. It ought be throughly understood by all and made in the end to benefit all of the people of North Carolina who work to pay the taxes that support the US military.
    I am afraid that Transportation Plan is too much designed to benefit the Military first, and the people second.
    Towns, Cities, Counties, States and Nations are fully dependent on their ports for prosperity. We must make it so that anyone can get anywhere in the state within 4 hours. We must make it so that anyone can get anywhere in the world within 4 hours.
    There are 27 Counties at least in NC that do not have Local Community Airports. All 100 counties of NC ought have their own Local Community Airports. If that isn’t in the overall Transportation Plan, it is a deeply flawed plan.
    We agree that things are bad, but what good might come of the waste and wreckage is that if mental landscape leaders respond now, what is on the table still can be focused on and we can be forced into a greater understanding of what is important.
    Not everyone in NC is an ignorant bigot. It is sad that now drama is required to counter the power of so much power in the hands of the Speaker to help pass ignorant and bigoted legislation of no benefit to anybody.

  2. Patricia Dareneau

    Moved here 4 years ago from PA. Wanted to get away from the cold weather. I often regret it. look what an awesome governor they have now .

    • Norma Munn

      I moved in 2013 and from a social and political standpoint, I too regret it. For personal reasons, it was the right choice, but I am appalled by what Raleigh & Co. has done.

  3. Susan Winders Moses

    Unfortunately, “First in Flight” might now take on a new meaning.

  4. Scott Spencer

    Be patient….Governor Cooper will get us back on track in about a year and a half!

  5. Charles coble

    With the dual headlines is SB2 and the shaming of UNC by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, North Catolina has plunged to depths not experienced since our post-Civil War days!

    • Voter

      I agree! That is why we must send these carpet baggers on their way.

      We must purge those who do not respect each and everyone of us!

  6. Stuart

    These people in Raleigh are embarrassing me and many others as we travel across the country. It’s a sad state of affairs (yes, that’s a pun — they’re fucking us over, sadly). And the continuing saga of the ignorant masses voting for these people, against their own interests, is simply a ploy on the GOP’s part to deliver the same old mantra — reduce taxes, reduce government, and promote racist agendas (voter registration etc) that play to the populace’s worst instincts. Nevertheless, if they’d just stop lying it might be understandable, but they won’t stop. It’s APPALLING !!!!

    • Voter

      Reduce government while ensuring invasiveness! Can’t you feel it? Doesn’t it make your blood boil? Remember this at voting time.

    • Charles Hogan

      No the are just shifting the tax burden onto the shoulder of the working poor and middle class so their wealthy carpetbagger buddies can get a free ride. toll road is Spanish mob.

      By the way did they ever get the requested storage box for their white robes and hoods ?

  7. Bill

    State of North Carolina, Inc.

  8. Maurice

    Can you think of another word to use than “hicks.” How about “people living in the 1930s” or “very traditional folks?”

    • margeyseb

      Hicks covers it.

  9. Lan Sluder

    Amen, Brother Mills.

    It’s been clear for a good while that the OWM in the Republican’t Party are leading us in a race to the bottom of the South and indeed of the nation. Right now, so to speak, we’re neck and neck with Mississippi, but the odds, sadly, favor the Old North State.

    –Lan Sluder

  10. Geoffrey Simon

    What is most insidious about the “magistrates’ bill” is how its proponents call it a bill in support of “religious freedom.” It is, of course, exactly the opposite: it is a legislative imposition of the majority of NCGA members’ religious beliefs on the entire state. As such, it is a clear violation of the federal Constitution’s prohibition of the ‘establishment of religion,’ and will be struck down by the courts. One would think that these GA members would have at least read the U.S. Constitution before passing their various unconstitutional NC laws.

    • Dawn Kucera

      This is an excellent example of how language shapes perceptions. Another example is the theft of $23 million from the public education fund to fund “Opportunity Scholarship” for a select few 2400 kids. This was not an opportunity for every kid in the state, and a significant amount of money to take away from an already hurting public school system.
      And to the point made earlier — you think the state’s education system might have been a factor? Who wants to tell employees their kids will be going to one of the worst ranked in the country?

  11. Geoffrey Z

    Has the NC Legislature and their courtiers ever considered that this cultural and political regression is the reason Volvo declined NC? Have they ever considered how this continued move towards static ideology will impact NC in the future in terms of growth and attracting businesses, professors, retirees, etc. etc.? It is sad to see NC stuck and imploding – like an isolated in-group that reinforces its members ‘rightness’ and refrains from outward growth, expanson, engagement, flexibility, progress, development, and inclusivity.

    • Progressive Wing

      Geoffrey Z:
      I doubt very much that the NCGP thinks in those terms. They more likely think only in the context of solidifying their righteous neo-con base so as to try to stay in power—the future socio-economic advancement, environmental quality, and national perception of the state be damned.

    • Nortley

      “Has the NC Legislature and their courtiers ever considered that this cultural and political regression is the reason Volvo declined NC? ”

      That’s a difficult case to make given that they chose South Carolina.

      • Tom Hill

        You are correct, of course. Corporations are governed by one thing only — money. South Carolina made Volvo a more lucrative offer, including less taxation. End of story. Everything else you hear is spin, including the ultra-liberal’s attempt to have us believe that Volvo gives a tinker’s damn about social issues.

  12. Apply Liberally

    Good one, Thomas.

    I’d just opine that the actual rebranding of our state started when McCrory was campaigning for the governor’s job. It was May of 2012, when a vote on a primary day (not a general election day) approved the marriage amendment, which has since been found to be unconstitutional in federal courts, a decision that may soon be sustained by the SCOTUS.

    And as far as McCrory branding himself, it’s more than his showing himself to be “hapless weakling” of a governor. He also branded himself as a lying political campaigner with his approval of the 2013 and 2015 abortion restriction bills.

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