The conservative leadership in the N.C. General Assembly has been trying to repair its image and dreadful approval ratings in recent months after more than a year of substantive and P.R. disasters.
Hence, the phenomenon of a group that has made one of its top priorities the repeal of a law known as the Racial Justice Act getting so visible all of a sudden in pushing to jumpstart the long dormant movement to compensate the mostly African-American victims of forced sterilization. When one of your signature causes amounts to harmful and hateful effort to, effectively, reinstate racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty, your image on issues related to race can use a lot of burnishing.
Unfortunately, as so often happens with a group that’s connected to and reliant upon the far right Tea Party crowd, doing the right thing is not so easy — even when leaders have decided to bite the bullet and compromise. New evidence of this hard reality can be seen in the growing mutiny amongst far right House members in opposition to the bill being pushed by their leaders to compensate sterilization victims.
As Laura Leslie reported last night on WRAL.com, the compensation bill — which has the backing of the House Speaker and Majority Leader but which has also drawn several “no” votes in committee from conservative Republicans — is now facing a more and more uncertain future.
Ultimately, it’s hard to believe these people will let the thing fail after having made such a big deal about getting it through. One might have said the same thing, however, about several other supposed feel-good conservative priorities that enjoy broad bipartisan support (like enacting resdistricting reform and raising the age at which children can be tried as adults and controlling casino gambling) that are now running afoul of the right-wing ideology police.
As the 2012 short session winds down to its conclusion, it will be fascinating to see whether the legislative leaders can muster the energy to take on their right-wing base on any of these high profile issues (or whether, in fact, the whole supposed effort to do so was a fraud all along). Thus far, the signs are not especially encouraging.