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Most of the political pundits in the newspaper said the disagreements between the three tribes of Raleigh Republicans were ideological – they broke it down like this: Tribe #1 – Conservative; Tribe #2 – Less Conservative; Tribe #3 – Least Conservative.

But a college professor (who’s usually dry as a bone when talking about the mendacity in politics) offered an odd idea: He ruminated around a bit then said the real reason the three Republican tribes were at war might be where they live. Because Phil Berger lives in a small town – while Thom Tillis and Pat McCrory live in the rolling Charlotte suburbs.
 
A spirit whispered and the professor’s words rose off the page in a vision of the land of corporate mergers, high powered consultants and legions of gadgets (iPods, iPads, iPhones), where success is measured by modern alchemy to the nth fraction of a decimal point on unforgiving P&Ls as MBAs fixated on dodging blame (if fate sends those decimal points spiraling in the wrong direction) tiptoed through corporate labyrinths.
 
It was a land as far from the magnolia laden air of Eden, North Carolina – Phil Berger’s home – as the mountains of the moon.
 
In Eden old-fashioned folks frown on people talking on cell phones in restaurants – but are too polite to complain. Home truths like ‘If he gives you his word, you can take it to the bank’ still abide and manicured graphs with curves mapping the vagrancies of human behavior are viewed, like voodoo, as superstition. Small town folks attend church more often, divorce less often and commit fewer crimes. They’re also poorer and more likely to be out of work.
 
In a small town a woman having an abortion is seen as a misfortune (that makes angels weep) and to Phil Berger, I’m guessing, less of it just plain made common sense.
 
At the same time, over in the suburbs, being against abortion is seen as unenlightened and insensitive to women – an abortion is a medical procedure (angels weeping or not) and limiting it is just plain inconvenient.
 
So the moment the Senate passed its bill limiting abortion a, say, Republican State Representative inhaling the eclectic air of suburbs found himself staring at a political time bomb – so after he’d carefully calculated where the decimal point was going to land the moment he opened his mouth to answer the question some pesky reporter was bound to ask, he was likely to say something a lot like what Governor McCrory told the pesky reporter who cornered him: I don’t support more limits on abortion but I do support changes to safeguard women’s health.
 
Which, of course, was a bit of tap-dancing.
 
There’s more to the story.
 
In small town Eden folks look to heaven for blessed assurance and at government with skepticism. They know government does some good. But know it does harm too. So they figure it ought to be limited so it doesn’t do too much harm.
 
Over in the suburbs folks tend to see government as one fine thing – more government means more schools, higher paid teachers, and  Medicare paying grandma’s hospital bills.
 
In Eden government’s a necessary evil. In the suburbs it’s a positive good.
 
So, here again, a Republican legislator weighing the time-bomb that’s going to go off under him if he votes to cut government spending is likely to say something a lot like what Governor McCrory told the reporter who asked where he stood on the State Budget.
 
He’s ‘revenue neutral.’
 
He’s for less government after we pay for everything we need — which turns out to be a long list.
 
So I owe a professor I’ve never met (and a spirit that arrived during breakfast) for a revelation: The rhubarb in Raleigh doesn’t start with ideology. Its roots run past politics back to the place a man calls home. Or, if he happens to be a small town exile living in the rolling suburbs, where his heart is.

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6 comments on “Shedding Light on the Rhubarb

  1. dap916 says:

    Carter, that was excellent “prose”…even MORE than “prose”, actually. (Definition of PROSE):

    a : the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing

    You seem to have developed a very good grasp of the english language and you’ve presented your point here using it. Problem is, I would bet that most readers of what you’ve said wonder what your point is, exactly. Maybe they just don’t understand your “prose”, like me.

    I’m a fairly well-educated person and to be honest, I had to read it a few times before I understood what you were trying to say. Gotta give ya kudos for using big words and what I consider a college-level presentation though.

    You go, Carter!

  2. clarence swinney says:

    The Republicans took control of the North Carolina Governorship and legislature.
    How? I believe the computer program was written whereby each straight Democratic vote became a Republican vote. I voted a straight D ticket and on review it was R. It is not hard to write a program
    to do that. Any others note same problem?

  3. Chris says:

    And, those suburban Republicans are probably not all that pleased with the state’s ranking on teacher pay.

  4. dap916 says:

    HAHAHA…swinney, you’re a gas! I’m betting you’re all about being against voter fraud though, right? I mean, hey, if repubs could somehow change computer programming to make sure the computer voting machines made dem votes suddenly repub votes….shouldn’t someone be looking into that?

    You’re so silly! 🙂

  5. dap916 says:

    Yeah…teacher’s pay in North Carolina. I can buy a home in North Carolina in most areas for $175,000 with a couple acres of land and three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths with all the amenities. That would cost me 2 – 3 times as much in most areas around our country, of course. So, comparing teacher’s pay to other parts of the country is ridiculous. When we see statistics that show “average” teacher’s pay, it includes California and New York and many other areas where the cost of living is FAR more than here in North Carolina and as such, the pay rates are FAR higher than here in just so many job positions…especially government positions.

    I hate it when I see those kind of statistics. It’s just ludicrous.

  6. Chris says:

    dap916 — the problem with the cost of living analysis is that NC is also behind many areas that have similar costs of living.

    My parents live in suburban Pittsburgh, which has a cost of living similar to that of Raleigh. Yet, a first year teacher in Raleigh gets paid ~ $35,000, while a first year teacher in my parent’s school district gets $46,600.

    NC is at the very bottom and that won’t change just by removing some set of people from the comparison set — we’re behind EVERYBODY, not just the folks with higher costs of living.

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