With another legislative session in North Carolina completed, the postmortems have begun, and most have not been very kind to the honorables.
Many of the honorables, at least those in the Republican majority, are likely taking comfort from pats on the back by like-minded friends, praising them for standing up to the Democrats and reversing a state course plotted by Democrats.
And some surely dismiss the buzz of criticism surrounding the last six months as more droning from the liberal media.
If so, it is a politically risky attitude, and one that ignores basic human nature.
Hardly anyone who has paid attention — Republican, Democrat or independent — would dispute that the Republican legislative majority, now that it has a GOP governor behind it, has taken a chain saw to established public policy in North Carolina.
Since January, GOP lawmakers, with the backing of Gov. Pat McCrory, have overhauled how state taxes will be paid, put new restrictions on abortions, altered how state dollars will flow for schooling, shortened and cut unemployment benefits, reworked judicial appointments and elections, and completely revamped the state’s regulatory landscape.
McCrory also is expected to sign into law a bill that will change how elections take place in the state, including shortening the early-voting period and requiring a picture voter ID at the polls.
There can be and has been plenty of argument about whether these changes benefit the majority of North Carolinians while not infringing on the guaranteed rights of anyone in the minority.
The argument pretty much ends there, though. All of the aforementioned legislation represents substantial shifts in longstanding policy, and legislators approved much of it without a lot of public consideration or debate.
To believe that they could redo this policy without engendering the protests and animosity that has followed them around is to live in a fantasy world.
The reason goes beyond ideology or partisanship. As that studied philosopher Mark Twain once said, “Nobody likes change but a wet baby.”
Sure, we like candidates who talk a good game of “change” and “hope” and other words that make us believe we are part of some grand movement.
What most of us really want is to live our lives as we have without too much interference from some outside force — be it a sweeping economic tide, a natural disaster, an activist government or a nosy neighbor.
A lot of Republican legislators have unfortunately convinced themselves that they are part of some grand movement, that state voters, first in 2010 and then again in 2012, pushed them onto this conservative crusade.
What they have missed is that the voters who put them in power did so mostly as a backlash to impending change from Democrats, and largely at the national level.
In other words, they wanted the GOP to stop more shifting ground under their feet, not bring about a different kind of ground-shaking.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers forgot a critical aspect of the word “conservative” — prudence.
—Scott Mooneyham covers the state Legislature for the Capitol Press Association.