GOP Needs Patience And Unity
I am always intrigued by the importance we place on national news, as opposed to local and state news. Perhaps the possibility of nuclear war with Iran is sexier than whether our state legislature will expand Medicaid. But, by all tests of relevance to our daily lives, the questions being decided in Raleigh will affect us more closely than the many issues that are being decided - or, more accurately, not being decided - in Washington.
For certain states like North Carolina, the 2012 election was not a Republican defeat but a landslide victory. In the case of the Tar Heel State, it represented a watershed of Republican legislative and gubernatorial control not experienced since the final end of Reconstruction.
Nonetheless, since taking office, Gov. Pat McCrory has been reported to urge that the legislature move more slowly on the key issues of voter ID, Medicaid expansion and Obamacare medical insurance exchanges.
Some things never change. In spite of a unity of party label, there is no "lockstep" unity between the Governor's Mansion and the General Assembly. And overall, that is a good thing. It means that in spite of the overwhelming Republican majority in Raleigh, there will be checks, balances and common sense written into the laws that the legislature passes.
For instance, a bill just passed in the state Senate created an opportunity for our state to reject Obamacare, requiring the federal government to pay the entire bill for our state insurance exchange.
Combined with a refusal to expand Medicaid, the state Senate action was clearly a step in the right direction. Nonetheless, Gov. McCrory is right to look at this approach with greater scrutiny, urging the state House to take its time before endorsing the legislation in mirror image.
The Republican Party is and always was a coalition. McCrory represents a moderate part of that coalition, just as Sen. Tom Apodaca, the sponsor of the Senate anti-Obamacare bill, represents a more conservative faction of the GOP.
McCrory brings to the table questions about the burden on hospitals and insured patients if Medicaid expansion and billions in federal funds to finance it are rejected. But Sen. Apodaca rightly questions the burden on North Carolina taxpayers in five to 10 years when an increasingly cash-strapped federal government cuts spending by unloading more Obamacare costs on the states.
If the Republican Party is to engender voter confidence in its new leadership position, the positions espoused both by the state Senate and the governor must be reconciled in the interest of a right-of-center, but not radically right, electorate.
In the Republican revolution of 2010-2012, the GOP captured the hearts of state voters across the nation and created an opportunity for our party to compare and contrast our conservative approach to that of the Democratic Rust Belt. Nonetheless, our long-term future as a party depends not on our racing as radically right as our opponents have raced radically left.
Indeed, that is the reason why Democrats were so soundly defeated in our recent state elections. Their ideology got ahead of their common sense.
Medicaid makes sense to cover both poor uninsured patients and to cover the cost to the insured patients whose premiums must rise, in turn, to cover the cost of those who do not pay. But it does not make sense to cut school and college budgets when the cost of Medicaid crowds out the investment we need to grow our economy.
It is important that the legislature not get too far ahead of McCrory. But it is just as important that McCrory take the advice and counsel of the General Assembly.
We must allow our governor to benefit and support the residents of Charlotte as much as the residents of Robbins while understanding that the people of North Carolina gave us a mandate to move our state to the right.
It is tempting to tear down over a century of Democratic rule with a sledgehammer.
But the real test of Republican leadership is whether we can use a chisel to change that century of entitlement into an era of opportunity. If both moderates and conservatives are patient, our majority in the legislature and our residence in the Governor's Mansion will continue indefinitely.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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