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.