Opinion: The Latest HB2 Fiasco
Will we ever see minimally competent government again?
N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore announced late Tuesday that they had agreed “in principle” to a potential bipartisan repeal of House Bill 2 that Governor Roy Cooper had proposed. This was established fairly quickly to be a) a lie and b) a clumsy attempt to pass a “repeal” that keeps in place discrimination against gay and transgender people, thereby drawing a veto from Cooper, thereby giving Republican legislative leaders cover to claim that Cooper, not them, owns the continuing degenerative disease of HB2. It was a branding maneuver, in other words.
It’s clear at this point that HB2 has caused permanent damage. It’s just a question of how much. But there’s a deeper question to ask. Will this state—this country—ever again embrace the idea that government ought to function at some minimal level? Ought to, I don’t know, seek to identify genuine problems and attempt to solve them through public policy?
I don’t ask that flippantly. The federal Cabinet is made up of people chosen deliberately to undermine, if not negate, the purposes of the agencies they’re overseeing. Regardless of what you think of Berger/Moore’s stunt Tuesday as a political chess move, it’s impossible to see how it might have made the situation on the ground any better. The NCAA, which has threatened to keep championship events out of the state through 2022, withdrew them in the first place because the law is flagrantly discriminatory. The “proposal” floated Tuesday wouldn’t have changed that. Do these people actually think the NCAA, or anyone else, wouldn’t notice?
I get the orthodoxy of people on one side of the political divide who believe, as an article of faith, that government itself is inherently bad. But Thoreau’s (not Jefferson’s) dictum reads, “The best government is that which governs least.” He didn’t mean that the job of the government is to actively sabotage itself, or that the electorate should choose candidates who preach about the incapacity of government and, once elected, outdo themselves proving it.