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Carolina Comeback

by John Hood

Why voters in the Tar Heel State turned right

Ever since Pat McCrory became North Carolina’s first Republican governor in 20 years, a stream of media coverage has portrayed the Tar Heel State as “the Wisconsin of 2013,” to quote the headline of a recent Atlantic article. The New York Times weighed in with a factually challenged editorial that described North Carolina’s rightward turn on taxes, spending, public assistance, capital punishment, and other issues with terms such as “grotesque,” “cruel,” and “demolition derby.” Separately, Times columnist Paul Krugman savaged the state’s decision to trim unemployment-insurance benefits — part of a plan to speed up repayment of a $2.6 billion debt to Washington — as “a war on the unemployed” by conservative politicians who “won’t be dissuaded by rational argument.”

Ready-made for the media crush was a North Carolina protest movement called “Moral Mondays.” Created by the state chapter of the NAACP in alliance with other liberal groups, it consists of weekly protests at the state’s legislative building that have included the ritual arrest of activists for blocking access to legislative chambers, violating fire codes, and otherwise attempting to obstruct the normal operation of the general assembly. The movement began small but grew to thousands of participants a week as TV cameras swarmed and a Moral Monday arrest record became a ticket to the Left’s cool-kids table.

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