It’s hard not to notice how divisive politics have gotten in the last decade. This year, North Carolina’s primary election was nothing if not divisive.
Unless you were living under a rock the last few months you certainly have seen some political ads leading up to the primary. While many of the ads were just run-of-the-mill political rhetoric, there was also a disturbing trend of right-wing extremism being considered a virtue for several Republican candidates.
The most prominent example of this trend was in the Senate primary between Ted Budd and former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. In Budd’s prolific campaign he accuses the former governor of being a liberal or a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only). It’s as if the Budd campaign has completely rewritten history as McCrory is arguably one of the most conservative, if not the most conservative, governors in North Carolina history.
In McCrory’s term as governor, he signed many pieces of legislation that were top conservative priorities including banning sanctuary cities, stopping food stamp benefits for undocumented immigrants, cutting unemployment benefits, increasing the waiting period to three days to have an abortion, and, most notably, HB2, which became known as the “bathroom bill.” His administration was so extreme it gave rise to the Moral Mondays movement, a series of protests at the State Capitol against him and the GOP-controlled legislature.
The post-Trump world apparently finds all of that far-right lawmaking to be “liberal,” which McCrory and all North Carolina liberals would emphatically disagree with. Now it seems that to be a viable Republican candidate one must espouse wild conspiracy theories, false claims about what is being taught in schools, and even be willing to violently overthrow the government when elections don’t go your way.
In a recent interview, McCrory was quoted as saying “I hope we see some honesty about some leaders in our party who maybe don’t have the character or temperament to lead our party in the future.” He added, “As I said, right policies, but maybe we need to look for other people with better temperament, policies and values.”
While the former governor didn’t name any names, it does seem increasingly clear that the Republican party in North Carolina is becoming more and more radical every election. The most disturbing part of this trend is that it’s working. Ted Budd won the primary by a large margin and it begs the question: why isn’t anyone stepping in to stop the runaway MAGA train from destroying our values like decency, respect, truth, and cooperation, one hate-filled speech at a time?