In just the third term of the North Carolina General Assembly since the Republicans took over in 2010, the state is already a very different place.
Films don’t shoot here anymore, it’s harder to get unemployment benefits, our state universities have become politicized and even as the sea has crept up a fraction of an inch, we are legally mandated to ignore it.
It was a tea party revolution that turned the tide against the Democrats, who for the last century had been in control of state government — at least nominally, as most legacy North Carolina Democrats were holdovers from the old days, and not exactly progressive.
But much of the aggression dealt by this new crop of GOP leaders goes against tenets of traditional Republicanism such as small government, fiscal responsibility and the type environmental conservation that goes hand in hand with hunting and fishing.
And the small fissures these actions created within the Republican Party are developing into genuine fault lines as the plot thickens.
This year’s overarching agenda has been to de-emphasize the role our urban areas play in the function of our state by decreasing their tax revenues, restructuring city governments, eyeing control of airports and, in the case of SB 36 in Greensboro, attempting wholesale change in the way the city is run.
The holdup is in the House, where especially those Republicans from the Guilford County delegation whose districts cover the city are taking a stand against the bill — or, at least, to put it to a voter referendum.
It’s the kind of rationality we have been conditioned not to expect from the folks on the right, who lately seem to be on a guns and Bible kick. And it’s a bold move for Reps. John Blust and Jon Hardister, who for taking this stance have gotten no small degree of blowback from members of their own party, which sometimes has a tendency to eat its own. But they seem to have no choice: Not only do they represent parts of Greensboro, both of them have to live there.
We could be seeing the opening salvo in a rational Republican revolution. Conflicting messages from the party leave long-haul guys like Blust, who has eight terms under his belt, with nowhere to turn except the convictions that brought them to office in the first place. And relative newcomers like Hardister are trying to put some daylight between themselves and the representatives who seek to alter our state constitution and pervert our state motto: To be, rather than to seem.
They seem to be readying themselves for the moment when the pendulum reverses its swing — as it always and evermore will do. When the wave recedes, they still want to be on the beach.