What do Bashar al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi and Pat McCrory all have in common? They each blamed protests against their governments on “outsiders.” When leaders make absurd comments like these, it’s hard to know whether they are just living in a bubble believing their own spin or trying to convince the media and public that they actually have broad-based support that’s not actually there.

Regardless, McCrory will have a hard time denying that the host of religious leaders that joined the protests Monday are North Carolinians and that they represent a cross-section of the state’s residents. The clergy’s concerns are for the people who can least defend themselves–”the poor, the aging and children”–and they shine a light on the harm that GOP policies are doing to people who live here, not in other states.

And while McCrory is ignoring the protests, Sen. Thom Goolsby is ridiculing them. In an op-ed, he calls the protests “Moron Mondays” and notes that polls say the protests are not popular. What he doesn’t say is that the polls also show the protesters have better favorability ratings than the Republicans in the legislature and are far more popular than many of the GOP policies.

And Civitas is also getting into the game. They have a page asking “Does the average ‘Moral Monday’ protester truly represent a cross-section of North Carolina citizens?” A chart with a stick figure gives demographic information including “From Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh” and “Democrat.” But the chart is a teaser. The real statement is “Find out more soon!” I can’t wait until Civitas begins attacking the protesters.

Republicans have mismanaged and misjudged the response to the protests. A few short weeks ago, they could have probably diffused the situation simply by meeting with the concerned groups and assuring them that the most draconian legislation would not pass. The cap on class size, for instance, will not be lifted. Groceries and medicine will not be taxed. In their arrogance, though, they chose to ignore the protesters and pander to their Tea Party base. What a mistake.

My fellow blogger, gubernatorial candidate, sometime sparring blogger and Moral Monday jail bird, James Protzman, has been quoting Gandhi lately: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” Republicans are in phase two. As a slugger, I’m waiting for phase three.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >

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