It’s a funny thing when you try to reverse 30 or 40 years of public policy in a single year. Some people don’t like it.
So, they show up and unfurl banners in protest. They send out nasty emails. They write critical pieces that end up in newspapers.
Such is the life of the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly. The policy shifts that they embarked upon this past year are nothing short of remarkable.
Major changes in policy path include looser gun laws, tighter annexation controls on towns and cities, added limits to medical malpractice awards, stricter time limits on workers compensation payments, freer rules for establishing experimental charter schools, stricter abortion requirements, and an amendment before voters to put a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.
That list is by no means comprehensive, and would have been longer had Gov. Beverly Perdue not gotten some of her vetoes to stick, at least for the time being. Some North Carolinians approve of all of these major policy shifts. Some agree with some of them. Some don’t agree with any of them.
Just as important, as the long-term implications of these decisions take hold, some who agree with one or more of the policies now may find later that they disagree. Others who disagree now will see benefits that they didn't anticipate. The change in North Carolina’s policy landscape is significant enough that the implications will reverberate for years -- assuming Republicans maintain their legislative majority for a while.
My point here isn’t to argue the merits of these policy shifts. Rather, it’s to point out what should be obvious: If you are going to embark on a journey to redo a big chunk of the public policy of a state, you better expect some bile to be thrown your way. You might want to learn to let it roll off of you.
It’s not clear that House Speaker Thom Tillis, in particular, has learned that lesson. Over the past couple of months, he has touted the fact that he canceled his subscription to his hometown newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, saying that it had reduced itself to a “liberal blog.” More recently, he sent out a missive to supporters saying that he had “resigned,” only to clarify that he was resigning himself to the fact that the left, “aided by some in the mainstream press,” would continue stifling GOP efforts to improve the state.
Tillis may be taking a page from the playbook of Republican icon Jesse Helms, serving up a portion of red meat media bashing to help rile up the conservative base.
Or, perhaps he seriously believes that everyone near and far -- including those wretched newspaper folks -- would see and embrace all the goodness, light and beneficence being bestowed upon North Carolina by the glorious and all-knowing GOP majority.
If it’s the latter, I’ve got one question for him: You want some cheese with that whine?