When my younger brother was about three years old, he stuck his head between the railings on a stairway and got it stuck. My parents were out and our babysitter was in a bit of a panic. After what seemed like a few hours of pulling and pushing, somebody got the idea of putting cooking oil on his head and, sure enough, his head slipped through pickets. When my parents got home and heard the story, my mother asked my brother, “How in the world did you do that?” My brother promptly slid his now-ungreased head back through the pickets and said, “Like this.”
Republicans in the legislature remind me of my brother. In a move they thought would motivate their base and drive a wedge between voters and Democrats, they passed House Bill 2, a broadly discriminatory law that also strips power from local governments. The law backfired costing them the Governor’s Mansion and the Attorney General’s office while also scaring away businesses, entertainers, and sporting events.
The legislature had a way out but they botched it. In a deal with incoming Governor Roy Cooper in December, the Charlotte City Council rescinded their ordinance with the understanding that the General Assembly would repeal HB2. Instead, Republicans reneged on the deal and the law is still in place and still doing damage to the state. They had the grease but they still can’t get their head out from between the pickets.
Now, the NCAA says that it might put a moratorium on championship games in North Carolina for six years if the law is not repealed. Republicans responded by trying to pass the blame to Cooper, saying he needs to find a compromise Republicans can support. It’s a silly move. Cooper wasn’t governor when the law was passed and voters now know that the GOP passed and supported the bill. Cooper offered them the solution before and they rejected it. Besides, there are enough votes in the legislature to repeal the bill now; they just aren’t Republican votes. Now, the GOP needs to figure out how to get out of the mess on their own.
For the party that talks about personal responsibility, the GOP doesn’t like to take responsibility for their own actions. They’re looking for Democrats to bail them out. If Berger and Moore put up a clean repeal bill, Democrats will support it, otherwise it won’t happen. They own HB2 and they can either make good on their end of the bargain from December or hear about it until the next election.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant.