North Carolina: The next great conservative powerhouse

The Bodie Island Lighthouse stands facing a sunset, as a storm front moves overhead, via Creative Commons by Zach Frailey.

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  • Outrageous story of the week

North Carolina is generally seen as a purple state, maybe with a small red lean. And because of that, the government is often divided, with the legislature, Supreme Court, Governor’s Mansion, and other major offices split between parties. This has meant that neither side has been able to completely shut the other out of major changes in state law.

But this week shows that all that may be over. Instead, North Carolina appears to be following the path of Florida, which drifted from swing state to solid red as more and more people moved to enjoy their conservative policies and more residents were convinced to support those policies after witnessing their success.

In the chart below, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, you can see that North Carolina is third on the list of states people are migrating to, after the two biggest red states, Florida and Texas. The three states people are fleeing the most are of course the deep blue states of California, New York, and Illinois.

So North Carolina is poised to match or even surpass states like Texas and Florida as a conservative success story. The General Assembly has managed to tally up many conservative victories, inching the state forward in areas like school choice, economic freedom, creating a culture of law and decency, and many other elements of the general basket of policies that make a state thrive.

But Cooper’s veto pen and the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court have blunted many of their biggest priorities, or at least greatly slowed them down. With the newly minted Republican-majority Supreme Court beginning to hand down decisions and both chambers of the legislature suddenly having veto-proof majorities, these barriers have collapsed. Nothing now stands in the way of conservatives putting their foot on the gas to make North Carolina the envy of the nation.

Slowly, then all at once

Usually, the “outrageous story of the week” is something bad or crazy someone has done. But this time, the overwhelming deluge of good news (if you’re a conservative) is nothing short of outrageous.

I’m usually not one to quote Soviet dictators, but a famous quote by Vladimir Lenin seems to fit the occasion perfectly: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

This was a week when decades of victories happened. Many of the headlines from the past seven days would have made for a solid month, or even year:

  • The now comfortable-Republican-majority state Supreme Court announced that their predecessors in the Democratic-majority court had decided incorrectly on election maps. The General Assembly will now be able to draw maps without vague and seemingly arbitrary standards overruling their work at every turn.
  • That same court said the voter ID constitutional amendment, which had been passed by a vote of the people, was not unconstitutional and should be reinstated.
  • Universal Opportunity Scholarships and a charter school review board both advanced in the General Assembly. The school-choice movement has been fighting for decades for wins of this magnitude.
  • Republican supermajorities passed a bill to move the limits on abortion in the state to 12 week from 20 weeks, with a number of exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest, and life-limiting fetal abnormality. Pro-life activists have been toiling for many years to see progress of this level, and this week it happened.
  • There are also major bills on the move on rolling back elements of progressivism that managed to sneak into the culture — including banning childhood gender transition surgeries, banning males in women’s sports, and much more.
  • Even a bill ending the clock-switching madness of Daylight Savings Time passed the House this week, a curse handed down to us by progressive icons Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ.

There are those on the left that are losing their minds and predicting North Carolina will turn into a hellscape of misery. They are rightfully frustrated and scared by the sudden evaporation of any ability to push back. If conservatives get their way on everything, and progressives think we’re wrong on everything, it makes sense they’d predict only bad things to come.

But people vote with their feet on which places provide the best standard of living. By coming to Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, and leaving California, New York, and Illinois, they are clearly signalling that the basket of policies that conservatives offer is preferable to the basket of polices that progressives offer.

People leaving places like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago to come to North Carolina are often very forthcoming about their reasons for leaving — housing was too difficult to secure, goods were too expensive, schools (both K-12 and the university systems) have been taken over by progressive ideologues, violence is out of control, drug use and homelessness in city centers are being winked at.

North Carolina as a shining example of good conservative governance can ensure we take very different approaches to all these matters. This week, major progress has been made towards this. Undoubtedly, as these policies take hold, North Carolina will emerge as a place that everyone wants to be — whether to live, go to school, vacation, or do business.

With power comes responsibility, though. Republicans will have the steering wheel as the state booms, and will need to find real solutions to rising housing prices, a divisive and struggling education system, a drug and mental health epidemic, and a complicated health-care system.

They’re certainly on their way, and if they stick the landing, North Carolina will be able to continue welcoming hundreds of thousands of new residents, providing them a much better lives than the ones they left in their home states or countries. Pulling that off will ensure our state’s place as a national leader in conservative solutions. We may look back on this past week as a week where decades of progress were made in that direction.

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