Pat McCrory, the former governor of North Carolina, says he’s finding it tough to get new work because of his support for HB2, the infamous “bathroom bill” that undermined anti-discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians.
“People are reluctant to hire me because, ‘oh my gosh, he’s a bigot,” McCrory said in an interview last week that surfaced Monday.
HB2 became a badge of shame for McCrory and North Carolina. Businesses boycotted the state, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam canceled shows, the NCAA and ACC moved major basketball games. There was a widespread consensus that the bill had crossed a line and deserved condemnation.
What does all this have to do with the election and democracy issues we usually cover over here? Well, HB2 was far from the only controversial bill signed by McCrory. He also approved the state’s ultra-regressive 2013 voting bill. That’s the one that imposed voter ID, cut early voting, ended same-day voter registration, banned out of precinct voting and straight-ticket voting, and more. You know, the one that a federal appeals court found “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
That law certainly generated intense opposition, especially from the Moral Monday movement led by the state’s NAACP. But it never received the kind of condemnation from non-political institutions usually loath to take sides that HB2 did.
It’s great that the push for equality for gays and lesbians has achieved that status. But it’s a problem that actively working to make it harder for racial minorities to vote isn’t seen as similarly beyond the pale, such that it might provoke the same kind of opposition from powerful institutions. Instead, it’s still treated too often as partisan politics, in which both sides are trying to shape the electorate to their own benefit. Ensuring that these efforts are understood as attacks on the democratic process itself — attacks that even non-political institutions will pay a price for not condemning — is part of the ongoing work of the pro-democracy movement.