Why Mark Robinson is smart to focus on first principles
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson frequently brags that he’s not a politician, but that doesn’t mean he’s not incredibly savvy when it comes to politics. Robinson, whose main task consists of presiding over sessions of the N.C. Senate, is elevating the importance of first principles lost by so many in our state and nation today.
Most people are aware his name recognition and current political career were launched through his defense of the Second Amendment at a Greensboro City Council meeting in 2018. It was just the beginning of Robinson trumpeting ideals like inherent rights and equality under the law. At a gun rally in Hillsborough, North Carolina in 2018, Robinson simply stated, “I’m going to do what I have to do to make sure that the rights conferred to me by my Father God and guaranteed by our Constitution stay right here in place.”
He continually appeals to natural law, an understanding that certain rights can’t be bestowed by the government because it implies, conceivably, the government could in turn rescind those rights. Robinson understands that the purpose of the government should reflect John Locke’s fundamental understanding: protecting life, liberty, and property.
Take the issue of race, which was kicked up again when WRAL published a cartoon essentially tagging him and other Republicans on the N.C. School Board as members of the KKK for dissenting against transforming state curriculum in favor of more critical race theory and systemic racism instruction in public grade schools. Robinson reverts to the first principles more reflective of America’s founding documents or the moral awakening during the American Civil Rights Movement, eschewing modern identity politics for more traditional notions of equality under the law. His desire is for students to be proud of what North Carolinians and Americans have achieved in living up to the founding ideals rather than believing that America’s history or perennial documents are singed by inherent racism – which would inevitably imply our entire system of ordered liberty is tainted.
Furthermore, he’s right to be concerned about the politicization of nearly everything in society. In an interview with Tim Boyum of Spectrum News, he calls himself a political conservative and Republican, but that perspective shouldn’t be emphasized in the classroom. Equally, he called those who want to morph the social studies standards to their anti-American worldview as misguided ideologues.
Robinson is a man of faith who believes virtue and morality are required for a society to flourish. His words continually put the family at the center of that society, a reminder that good government and good societies require strong families. At the January NC March for Life rally in Raleigh, Robinson simply stated, “Being a parent is the greatest calling a human being can undertake. There is no greater calling than being a father or mother.” That statement by itself diminishes the power and esteem of overly valuing high political offices — a reminder that the most important power in culture and society is not nestled in the halls of government.
Certainly, many progressives will see Robinson as outdated or merely a misguided minority who wandered off their ideological reservation. Yet, many of his beliefs are new again because they’ve been locked away or diminished in the public square. He has studied history and has a genuine love for the Constitution and for placing limits on the power of government. Sure, Robinson has warts and flaws, he’s admitted that himself, but he’s helping many North Carolinians to rediscover truths about government and human nature.
In a December commentary, Mitch Kokai of the Locke Foundation wrote that “Other than presiding over sessions of the N.C. Senate and casting votes on the State Board of Education, Robinson’s top job as lieutenant governor will involve shining a light on important topics.” If he continues on his quest to highlight America’s first principles and act as a civic educator, Robinson will accomplish more than the vast majority in political office today.
Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor.