Rep. David Lewis, a prominent member of the leadership team in the North Carolina House of Representatives, told WRAL yesterday that legislative Republicans look forward to working with Gov. Roy Cooper this year.
“We look forward to finding common ground with the governor. We think there are things that we can work with him on and look forward to actually having a dialogue with him without having to go to court in order to talk to him.”
Let’s fervently hope Lewis means it. For years now, the General Assembly leaders have frequently treated a governor of their own party with thinly-veiled contempt and as a virtual errand boy.
Here’s the deal, though: If you’re going to “work” with someone and have productive “dialogue,” it might be a good start to stop calling them names and making outrageous allegations. This doesn’t mean one can’t have strong differences and even battle over the constitutionality of respective roles. Governor Cooper has made this clear in some of his recent statements.
But there’s a big difference between engaging in tough policy and legal debates and lobbing absurd and offensive personal attacks. The most obvious serial abuser in this area is Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger who has done his utmost since the election to adopt the persona of a Trump-like bully.
Listen to Berger at a gathering of business leaders in early December as reported by a right-wing blogger:
“It’s time for the Governor-elect to take a stance on the issues that surround House Bill 2. He needs to let the public know if he believes that men should be allowed in women’s and girl’s locker rooms. He needs to let us know whether middle school girls should be forced to share a locker room with middle school boys.”
And here’s Berger in a post on his own website discussing the failure of the Senate he controls to repeal HB2:
“Their action proves they [Cooper and Senate Democrats] only wanted a repeal in order to force radical social engineering and shared bathrooms across North Carolina, at the expense of our state’s families, our reputation and our economy.”
Of course, Berger is not alone. A goodly part of the GOP establishment has been lobbing dishonest and outrageous stink bombs at Cooper and one of his advisers, Ken Eudy of late. The GOP’ers claim that both Eudy and his boss are “anti-military” because Eudy had the temerity to express support in a column he wrote last summer for the thoughtful demonstrations of football player Colin Kaepernick and to call for honoring not just military personnel, but all kinds of public servants at sporting events.
Earth to the GOP: You do not build working relationships and find common ground through classless distortions and smear campaigns. Everyone understands that politics is, as the saying goes, not a pillow fight, but there’s a difference between policy disagreements and dishonest broadsides by politicians and their minions that seek to impugn the character of the men and women with whom they must work.
Let’s hope Berger and his colleagues have gotten this kind of vitriolic nonsense out of their systems, take a cue from Cooper and start to focus on working to find common ground in governing our state. Unfortunately, if the past is any indication, such a scenario seems as if it is likely to be a long shot.