Why Short-Sighted Social Conservatism is Costing us North Carolina


The electoral map is looking pretty blue this year, but one case study looks even more interesting than the others.

Like most southern states, North Carolina has a long history with blue dog Democrats at the state and local level and reliable Republican voting patterns at the federal level. Nothing too radical there, just a case in point of an older, conservative Democratic Party whose fading echoes can still be heard from the other side of the sixties.

I’m referring to something far more unique this year. This year, North Carolina may be the only state in which Republicans at the state level fare better than Donald Trump at the national level. As of this writing, Clinton has pulled ahead of Trump in the Tar Heel State but remains within the margin of error at 2.6 percent ahead. Pat McCrory has trailed in the polls throughout the general election cycle, generally behind Donald Trump, though both races are too close to call at the moment.

Is there really a Republican less popular than Trump? And not just a Republican, but a sitting Republican governor whose time in office in a traditionally red state has put him behind one of the less popular major party nominees in history?

Apparently the polls think so for now, and November 8 will tell us who fares better.

For now, I am interested in watching not just the what, but the why. What issues brought Pat McCrory to the forefront of “Most Vulnerable Governors to Watch in 2016” headlines in the first place?

It probably goes without saying that the bathroom bill had, umm, a bit to do with it.

North Carolina entered the national spotlight by passing legislation in 2015 that prohibited members of the public from using any public restroom in North Carolina in which the gender designation of the bathroom conflicted with their sex according to their driver’s license or state-issued ID.

We would think this bill is fairly straightforward, given the talking points in its favor. We’re not against transgender people here, per se, we just expect them to register with the state if they are “really” transgender. Asking people to change their sex on their driver’s license isn’t too much to ask, and it will prevent people from pretending to be transgender from getting into the wrong bathroom.

The problem with the idea is that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

We aren’t transitioning from a world where transgender people aren’t allowed to use the bathroom of their choice into a world where we give them a way to get approval from the state by changing their sex on their driver’s license. We’re changing from a world in which transgender people do and always have used the bathroom of their choosing, usually without anyone knowing or caring, to a world in which the social do-gooders demand “papers, please” before you’re allowed to pee.

Don’t talk to me about creeps dressing up as the opposite sex and claiming to be transgender to get in and creep.

For one thing, that’s always been illegal. For another thing, that’s not enforceable (criminals being criminals, after all) unless you want to put an armed guard outside every bathroom to ID would-be patrons. But most of all, this whole national debate has only brought this supposed weak spot for exploitation to the attention of more would-be creeps than if we had kept the old system: everyone uses the bathroom they want. Anyone who does something perverted or illegal goes to jail.

The real issue at play is, like many social conservative issues, likely a bit deeper.

Many people in the social conservative world just don’t believe transgenderism is a real thing. For them, it’s not a matter of creeps using free bathroom policies as cover to use the wrong bathroom, because they don’t actually think the law should restrict you to your sex on your driver’s license. They think it should restrict you to your anatomical sex at birth because that’s the only thing gender ever has been or will be. By this logic, the North Carolina bathroom law is just a step in the right direction.

With that, we get the entire stereotype of a blurred line between transgender people going to the bathroom and sexual predators going into the bathroom to take advantage. It’s a stereotype the moral do-gooders hope we don’t notice because they think it will be a softer sell if they don’t admit that they think all transgender people are sexually dangerous. Plot twist, we did notice.

And if that’s your case, don’t shy away from making it.

Just don’t be surprised when it turns a longtime red state purple and eventually blue.

Luke is an attorney, campaign consultant, lobbyist, and historian with a passion for liberty and a nerdy sense of humor.

He holds a Jurisdoctorate Degree in law and a Bachelors degree in communications.

1 Comment

  1. With all due respect (sincerely), your article misses the mark and adds further confusion to the whole NC-transgender-bathroom fiasco. I am disappointed an attorney would would publish such an article without first understanding the reasoning behind NC’s passage of HB2. I hope you’ll research the history of NC bathroom’s law and either re-write this article or edit it to include the important information you missed.

    To update you, the entire NC-transgender-bathroom situation happened for one reason and one reason only: Charlotte (NC’s biggest city) passed an unnecessary and truly radical ordinance that would have prohibited (if not preempted by HB2) places of public accommodation from having unisex bathrooms. The Charlotte ordinance specifically deleted the provision already in place that exempted bathrooms, restrooms, shower rooms, and similar private facilities.

    This was an extreme change in the law that was wholly unnecessary. At the time, the “transgender bathroom” issue was a nonissue. Charlotte simply had no reason to create a law that effectively outlawed unisex bathrooms. The Charlotte law did not say that transgender people could use the bathroom of the sex they identified with, it simply made it illegal for public accommodations to impose any kind of rule on who used what bathroom. Under the Charlotte ordinance, no pool could have prevented 14-year-old boys from using girl locker-rooms. You can imagine the other consequences.

    In addition to making it illegal for public accommodations to impose rules on who used what bathroom, the Charlotte ordinance effectively gave all future victims of the law a cause of action to sue and obtain damages against any business that imposed a rule based on their sex or gender. So yes, the 14-year-old boy kicked out of his local gym for showering in the girl’s bathroom would have had a legitimate basis to sue the gym for gender/sex discrimination.

    Charlotte is a liberal city and the people who passed this ordinance did so for no genuine reason aside from their desire to make a name for themselves in the progressive community.

    Because of Charlotte’s radical ordinance, the NC legislature had to take swift action before the ordinance’s effective date. Although some (very very few) people might have personally benefitted from the Charlotte ordinance, the reality is that many more NC citizens and residents would have been impacted. From a simple cost-benefit standpoint, it makes no sense to pass such a radical law that drastically changes societal norms and laws when so few people will benefit and many more people and businesses will be impacted. HB2 was the result.

    National media was (and is) largely unaware of the Charlotte ordinance. And most people know nothing about it. Moreover, most people know nothing about the substance of HB2. Most people haven’t read the law and don’t know what they’re talking about when they talk about “NC’s transgender bathroom law.” The post-HB2 hysteria we’ve seen is entirely due to misrepresentations and mischaracterizations. A law that was passed to protect NC citizens and residents was spun as an “anti-LGBT law” that prevented transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. Liberal propaganda won the day and corporate America responded by caving to the attacks.

    Could the NC legislature have handled it a different way? Of course. Could HB2 have been written more clearly? Of course. Would all of this have been avoided if Charlotte hadn’t passed their silly ordinance? Most definitely.

    Governor McCrory gained wide support following his strong defense of HB2. America can view it how they like, but the people of NC chose security and safety over uncertainty and a radical departure from universally accepted societal norms.

    As a conservative, I naturally oppose government intervention. I generally oppose the government meddling in our personal lives. Of course, when “progressives” pass laws that impose extreme obligations/prohibitions on the decisions people and businesses make in private affairs, I am put in the position of either accepting the new law/ordinance/regulation or responding in one of the legally available ways.

    Sure, someone could have sued Charlotte at some point in the future. But by the time any decision was reached, many NC businesses and citizens would have been impacted and potentially harmed. Rather than wait for such unknowns, the NC legislature responded by passing a law that basically just sought to restore the status quo.

    I appreciate your comments and any criticism you may have with my take on this situation.

    Thank you for your time. Best, PR.

Comments are closed.

Latest from Law

Thanks for visiting our site! Stay in touch with us by subscribing to our newsletter. You will receive all of our latest updates, articles, endorsements, interviews, and videos direct to your inbox.