A lot’s happened this week. On a personal level, dropping my daughter off at UNC-Asheville was the biggest deal. I always enjoy spending time in the mountains and the campus is great, even if the architecture leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not sure why architects in the late 1960s felt like they needed to compete with Soviets for designing drab, sterile buildings without distinguishing features, but on a setting as nice as UNC-Asheville, they missed a hell of an opportunity. Regardless, I’m excited for my daughter and confident she’ll have a positive experience and get a great education.
On the political front in North Carolina, Republicans chose to override vetoes instead of help the people of the state. The thumped their chests as they passed five bills that Governor Roy Cooper had nixed. They were mostly what I call base bills. They’re just more shots in the culture wars and fodder to juice their base.
They passed one bill they called a Parents’ Bill of Rights and then passed another that stripped away parents’ rights to seek health care for their children. The Parents Bill of Rights is really just a bill designed to allow the loudest and most ideological parents to supersede the judgment of teachers, librarians, administrators, and school professionals. They can now ban books and shape curriculum that fits their world view instead of one that respects the diversity of our society and country.
They also passed a bill to ban medical treatment for transgender teenagers. The bill, like so much the GOP does, ignores the complexity of the issue and the struggles of children. It’s a bullying bill and more fodder for the base. It also strips away rights from parents and doctors. Combined with the abortion restrictions taking place across the country, we’re seeing a pattern here of Republicans imposing government restrictions on individual rights.
In the meantime, Republicans keep kicking the budget down the road and keeping people from accessing Medicaid who need health care. When the GOP belatedly decided to expand Medicaid, they attached it to the budget, which they promised to have passed by July. As former State Senator and Chair of the Economic Development Council of North Carolina Gene McLaurin noted, “Now, in effect, we’re in an execution gap.” The delay is costing North Carolina jobs and hurting rural hospitals who have been hit hard in recent years. It’s time for the GOP to do its job and pass a budget instead of feeding its angry base.
On the national front, the indictments just keep rolling in. Down in Georgia, the Fulton County DA laid out a RICO case against Trump and slew of co-conspirators, including our very own Mark Meadows, the guy who claims he lived in a burned out trailer in Macon County and believes dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together. The indictment lays out exactly what these people did to try to overturn the election and coerce others, including the Georgia Secretary of State, to commit fraud.
The most interesting aspect has been watching the GOP response to all the indictments. As Nick Catoggio of the Bulwark noted, the party has been moving the goalposts in an attempt to avoid any responsibility or accountability. In the wake of January 6, they said impeachment was not the proper venue and the courts should handle the case. Now, they say that the courts are wrong and that voters should decide. But, as Catoggio points out, the voters decided and the GOP denied that the election was legitimate. They will never accept that Trump lost. They will never be willing to hold him accountable in any way.
And that leads to a huge a quandary for Republicans. Indictments in multiple jurisdictions by separate grand juries paint a picture of a corrupt and immoral man. Most voters see through Trump and he’s going to have a difficult time persuading the swing voters to support him. As the top of ticket, he could be a huge drag on down-ballot GOP candidates.
On the other hand, if Trump is somehow forced off the ticket, either through some candidate emerging in the primary or some legal barrier, then those Always-Trumpers aren’t likely to show up at the polls. Democrats, on the other hand, are motivated, not by Joe Biden, but by extremist policies around abortion and fear of another right-wing populist presidency.
Either way, 2024 looks tough for Republican right now. Trump fatigue is a real phenomenon among normal people that could hurt Republicans and the Cult of Trump is also a real phenomenon that could easily turn on the GOP. Let’s see what happens next week.