The irony of Republicans complaining about unfair treatment by corporate American and the national media is just too rich. The people who just passed a law allowing discrimination against a segment of our population is whining that they’re victims of discrimination. It’s a shame they lack the self-awareness to make the connection.
They’re not being treated unfairly, though. Other states might have laws on the books, but they didn’t just write them in 2016 and they didn’t overturn local governments’ right to protect the LGBT community or deny people the right to sue over discrimination. The Western world, including corporate America, is moving toward tolerance while North Carolina Republicans seem to be moving in the opposite direction.
Republicans in North Carolina have also lost credibility when it comes to issues of fairness and discrimination. The whole episode followed the pattern of the voter suppression bills. They find a “problem” and use it to achieve other, more nefarious, political goals.
Back in 2013, Republicans claimed they wanted to reduce voter fraud but overreached to make voting more difficult for people who don’t agree with them. They could have passed a simple voter ID bill and moved on. Instead, they passed a wide-ranging bill that limited the types of identification, reduced early voting days, eliminated same-day registration, ended pre-registration in high schools, and moved early voting sites away from college campuses.
Similarly, Republicans in 2016 could have addressed the so-called “bathroom ordinance” in Charlotte. Instead, they used it as a Trojan Horse to push much further reaching legislation including limiting local governments’ ability to raise the minimum wage. With their long history of overreach and targeting people who have less power and influence, the GOP in North Carolina no longer gets the benefit of the doubt. That’s how politics and the world works.
Finally, as the twitter hashtag says, “We are not this.” Over the past fifty years, we’ve become accustomed to seeing ourselves as an open-minded, tolerant state welcoming of all people and new ideas. The current GOP leadership is hanging onto narrow-minded views while using disparaging and divisive language unbecoming of state leaders. They are more reminiscent of George Wallace than Terry Sanford. In just a few short years, they’re destroying a reputation that took decades to build.
The saddest part of this story is that leaders like Phil Berger don’t seem to care about the state’s reputation. They’ve created a delusional narrative about an ultra-liberal state outside of the mainstream and supported by a biased media establishment. They can’t get outside of their own bubble to see how ridiculous they sound or the long-term damage they are doing. Until they’re stopped, the rest of the country will continue to ask, “What’s wrong with North Carolina?” What a shame.
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 >