Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” And right now, it appears that one of ol’ Tip’s leading disciples is Governor Pat McCrory. How else to explain the Guv’s repeated decisions to ignore national trends and double-down on far right policies that seem sure to alienate important constituencies to which his own party is trying to build bridges?
Last month, McCrory was doing his best to thumb his nose at the unemployed, the uninsured and the health care industry generally with his decisions to turn down billions in federal unemployment insurance and Medicaid dollars. He’s already made clear he has no real interest in reaching out to the African-American community with his statements of support for a mandatory voter ID law.
And now, in a move that is more symbolic than substantive, he has given a big raspberry to another community that national Republicans had been trying to court in the wake of last November’s presidential election by announcing that he’s closing the state’s Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs.
The office was tiny and cost the state next to nothing so there’s obviously no fiscal rationale for the decision. The only possibility that makes any political sense is that McCrory and his people have simply “run the numbers” and decided that Hispanic/Latino voters in North Carolina remain sufficiently small in number that there will be more near-term political benefit from throwing another bone to the nutty, anti-immigrant members of the Guv’s local political base than trying to follow the national GOP trend of reaching out to immigrants.
We’ll see if this works. Jess George of the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte told the McClatchy newspapers that:
“The message from Raleigh is that Latinos in North Carolina don’t matter. To close the office of Hispanic affairs only goes to confirm what many people suspect in our state, which is that, despite movement with the Republican Party at the national level towards more bipartisan solutions around comprehensive immigration reform, North Carolina conservatives don’t seem to have gotten the same memo.”
For now, however, it appears that McCrory has decided that the short-term benefits of throwing in with the anti-immigrant Right and further isolating his party outweigh that long-term benefits of acknowledging North Carolina’s fast-changing demographic reality.