North Carolina politics used to divide regionally: East vs. West. For much of the 20th Century, there was a tradition that a Governor from the West was succeeded by a Governor from the East. And each region had one U.S. Senator.
Today, the civil war is City vs. Country.
The ever-wise Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill, summed it up in The New York Times:
“We’ve got this divide – the divide between the cultural conservatism of older suburbs and older rural areas, and these new, thriving, modern economy, diverse cities.”
Ferrel’s quote was in a Times article (“Southern Cities Split With States on Social Issues”) about battles over issues like HB2.
This is not a comic-book caricature division between smart, sophisticated urbanites and dumb-bunny country bumpkins. There are social liberals in rural areas and closed minds in cities.
It’s that people who live in North Carolina’s growing metro areas are more likely to meet and know, for example, transgender people who are struggling with identity issues. That is less common in more rural areas, which explains why Governor McCrory might well have found some support in that famous “African-American buffet restaurant” in Hamlet, NC (hometown of the Times’ Tom Wicker, by the way).
Not too long ago, we had the same divide over gay-rights issues. Then it turned out that country folks knew gay folks too. It will happen, in time, on transgender issues.
People are usually better than their politicians.
Unfortunately, North Carolina today is led by politicians who want to drive us apart rather than bring us together. It’s always that way. We had our Helmses and Smiths, just as we now have our McCrorys and Bergers.
Fortunately, we also have our Coopers and Steins and Rosses, just as we had our Hunts, Sanfords and Fryes.