Saunders: Let's welcome new governor before we start petitioning

bsaunders@newobserver.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Chill, homes.

Let’s let the dude at least find out where all the light switches are in the Executive Mansion before we start questioning his intentions.

That’s my message to the coalition of civil rights, labor, faith and social activist organizations that has seemingly risked putting Gov. Pat McCrory on the defensive by sending a petition imploring him to “govern moderately in the face of extremist political influences” and to, among other things, rule “for the good of the whole.”

Wait a minute. Shouldn’t we assume that he is going to govern moderately and rule for the good of the whole, even if some of those extremist influences are right there in his Cabinet?

Yes, but sending a petition sends the message that you don’t think those are priorities of the administration – especially after you’ve met with him man to man. The Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP and other leaders met with McCrory at the end of last year, then followed up with a petition to leaders of both parties.

By pelting Gov. M.C. Pat with a petition before he’d even decided upon which side of the bed he prefers to sleep in his new home, the organizations and their leaders risk unnecessarily antagonizing him right off the bat. Over the next four years, there’ll be beaucoup opportunities to confront McCrory if he starts getting too cozy with the tea party or viewing the state constitution as merely a list of suggestions.

‘Not a negative’

“The constitution is supposed to dictate how they govern,” Barber told me this week, “but the last legislature showed it didn’t care about the constitution.”

He said McCrory “seemed appreciative” of the meeting and of its civil tone. Barber also said “the petition is not a negative. We view it as a hopeful document.”

That may be how they intended it to be greeted, but make no mistake: sending someone a petition before they’ve unpacked their jammies or hung their “Barry Goldwater” glow-in-the-dark poster is assuming an adversarial position.

‘Jungle Boogie’

Think about it. Say Sweet Thang and you have just moved into a new neighborhood when you receive a petition demanding that you never run around in the backyard in a tutu, don’t put pink flamingo ornaments on the lawn and refrain from playing your Kool & the Gang greatest hits album too loud.

If you’re anything like me, what’s the absolute first thing you’re going to do after such a welcome?

That’s right: Put on a pink tutu; invite your loudest, rowdiest, most uncouth friends over and crank up “Jungle Boogie” as loud as the old Victrola will go.

Will McCrory, likewise, reflexively respond by declaring war on everything liberals hold dear – not that, some figure, he needs any more impetus to do that?

If he does, we’d all better pray that the Rev. Barber and others will be there to say “Stop that, Pat.”

Every administration deserves a honeymoon period during which its members will, one hopes, realize the huge responsibility of their position and conclude that being an intransigent ideologue is no way to govern. Will McCrory kowtow to special interests, or will he prove that he represents the interests of all Tar Heels?

As Barber acknowledged, “We don’t have anything to judge him on, but the proof is in the pudding” as to how McCrory will govern.

Speaking of dessert, do you know what would have been better to send than a petition? A cake.

Or a pie. With a note that says “You want to come over and eat some barbecue and listen to Kool & the Gang’s greatest hits?”

That’s how you welcome somebody to the neighborhood.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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