The 2016 political season is on course to raise the bar for toxic politics. Historians can point to past elections in America where personal attacks were vicious: (Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams and personal attacks on Grover Cleveland). But nothing seems to rank with the divisions now confronting voters. If presidential charges and counter-charges aren’t enough in North Carolina, along comes House Bill 2.
This so-called gender restrooms bill was prompted by Charlotte’s ordinance allowing transgender people to select restrooms of the “sex with which they identify.” Legislators again decided to overrule local ordinances and mandate persons use bathrooms that identify their birth sex. But then they went further, removing protections for the LGBT population, including the right to file complaints of discrimination. And for good measure, the legislators added provisions prohibiting local governments to adopt laws involving the minimum wage. International companies with operations in North Carolina have objected and the national media has had a field day.
So what does this have to do with the manufacturing community?
Some legislators in metropolitan areas are likely to lose their seats. North Carolina is a divided state in the current political climate and pro-business supporters may lose some allies. The gubernatorial race involving incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper already was a toss-up. McCrory’s decision to promptly sign the bill could tip the balance. He may gain evangelical votes, but also prompt large corporations to support Cooper. The upcoming short session of the General Assembly is likely to center on refining the state budget. But a bill to repeal House Bill 2 is being drafted by Democrats and other election-year legislation can be expected. In the meantime, North Carolina will be navigating in a volatile economic climate.