Jenkins: Raleigh, the Republican town

jjenkins@newsobserver.comNovember 14, 2012 

Following the recent presidential campaign, a little 5-year-old of my acquaintance, name of Ayden, said, “Pops, what’s a ‘lection?” He had been distressed, apparently, that coverage of the political proceedings of last Tuesday had interrupted his usual televised fare of Batman, Spiderman and “Sponge Bob” with banjo players and gobbledygook. I could not argue with him that the substitution represented a considerably lower level of intellectual stimulation.

But in North Carolina, Republicans strengthened their hold on the state House and Senate and then, of all things, elected their party’s candidate for governor, Pat McCrory. No squeaker, either. Fella was tough.

If the Democrats had been bullies ... it was as if the kids they’d been picking on had been working out and lifting weights and had come back to even the score. And then some.

Oh, by way of explanation. “Democrats” refers to members of a once-powerful political party that ruled North Carolina for most of the last century. What happened was, they grew complacent, a speaker of the House “went upstate,” as they say, and the next thing you know ... well, you know the next thing.

So the answer to Ayden’s question has become: A “’lection” now is when the Republicans take over. Everything.

Indeed, Republicans now control the executive, legislative and judicial branches, or more specifically, the state Supreme Court.

Now back in 2010, when Republicans took control of the legislature, your correspondent (in analyzing the results in this space) found many Democrats who thought at the time that it might be just an accident, one of those temporary flips that would be righted in 2012.

(Hmmm ... anybody want to get the sharpener out? The knives needs a bit of work.)

It’s been “righted,” true enough, but not like they thought. And changes are rapidly afoot to recognize the new, Republican State of North Carolina.

There is the Capitol, a magnificent building that once featured a statue on its grounds of North Carolina’s “three presidents.” (In fact, we probably have one president, two at the most, and Tennessee argues with us about it sometimes.)

That statue will be gone, replaced with a bronze of “the three governors,” Republicans Jim Holshouser (1973-77), Jim Martin (1985-1993) and McCrory (2013-?). McCrory looks a little funny on the horse, if you ask me, and the sideburns don’t flatter Martin, but it’s art, after all.

And speaking of bronze, GOP leaders in the General Assembly have thoughtfully had the traditional “veto stamp” bronzed as a holiday gift for their new governor. They figure he’ll never need it.

Just to make sure, the governor will join his cabinet and agency heads on a special program called “Way Outward Bound” to make sure all are instilled with conservative Republican values. They’ll meet with Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, members of the Fox News anchor desk and Clint Eastwood to be tested and to stretch their mental endurance and knowledge. In addition to the usual running, hiking and viewing of the Ronald Reagan film library, participants will search for the fossils of Democrats rumored to still be in the vicinity of the Capitol. They’re rare now.

How far will the Republican reach go? Well, on display in the glass cases upstairs in the Legislative Building, near the visitors’ galleries, are the new GOP-approved textbooks for North Carolina high schools: “North Carolina, 1861” for 9th graders, “North Carolina, Modern Era, 1945-1955” for 10th graders and “North Carolina, The Future, 1955-1965” for 11th graders. (The high school senior year has been eliminated.)

Don’t like it? So go ahead and appeal it to the state Supreme Court then.

Inside the offices of House leaders, Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex, majority leader last time out and now seeking the post of speaker pro-tem, is rumored to be hard at work on legislation focused on social conservatism. Stam was the champion of the marriage amendment putting a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution.

Next up, we hear, an amendment to ban the teaching of evolution in the public schools, and then there are the articles of secession, of course.

In fact, and we’ve not seen it but have heard about it enough to give it credibility, it’s said that there may be move on the part of Republicans to prohibit the naming of any newborns in North Carolina “Jim,” “Hunt,” or especially “Rufus.” They still think those guys might be back.

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at jjenkins@newsobserver.com

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