North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is scrambling to rescue his career. In an election year he should have known better than to sign a mindbogglingly stupid bill aimed at intimidating gays and lesbians. Republican Governors in such progressive strongholds as Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina have already demonstrated the good sense to resist so-called “bathroom bills” or similar measures.
When Indiana Governor Mike Pence made the same mistake, corporate pressure forced him into a frenzied and humiliating retreat. Pence, however, enjoyed a resource McCrory lacks – time. North Carolina will fix this dumb move, but the ugly process will play out across the span of a particularly difficult election season for Republicans. McCrory’s inexplicable miscalculation will probably cost him his job and take the state’s Republican Senate seat with him.
Then, there’s Mississippi.
A state that raised Jim Crow to a violent art form has taken the anti-gay backlash to new heights. Using religion as a smokescreen, lawmakers there have enshrined into law a personal right to discriminate that extends to virtually any service delivered in public or private spaces. There will be no political consequences whatsoever.
What makes North Carolina so different from Mississippi is that North Carolina is tied into global capitalism. The new Jim Crow will fail in North Carolina as it has in so many other places because of pressure by corporations.
It will remain in place in Mississippi because that state has nothing anyone wants in a modern economy. Boycotting Mississippi is the political equivalent of bombing the rubble.
As our political system grows more frighteningly dysfunctional it pays to live in a place with lots of big corporations. They are among the last remaining political forces with a solid commitment to practical outcomes and the power to make them happen. From civil rights to climate change and education, corporate political pressure is becoming the last reliable force holding back the barbarians.
Be grateful you live in a place where major corporations want to do business. Life beyond their influence can be rather dark.
North Carolina’s Governor is not flailing because of pressure from liberal groups. Marches and protests and boycotts by noisy activists don’t frighten him in the least. Years of remarkable “Moral Mondays” demonstrations at the state capital have yet to move the needle in North Carolina politics. North Carolina is threatened with a loss of legitimacy at a national level by the concerted pressure applied by corporate interests.
In our era, the greatest business advantage doesn’t come from cheap waste disposal, plentiful coal, or access to oppressed workers. The most lucrative capital returns come from building a powerful pool of human talent. It is difficult to maintain talent in an environment where your employees might be harassed for their identity with complicity from government. The death of Jim Crow was an essential key to the rise of the South as an economic player. Businesses will not stand by and let their investments be decimated by a Neo-Confederate revival.
Republicans are finding themselves torn between old interests and new, between business and bigots. Money is going to win that fight 100 times out of 100. The problem is that money doesn’t care about certain places.
Business is almost certainly going to save North Carolina over the long term. In time, corporate interests will also roll back the damage that Neo-Confederates have done to that state’s schools and infrastructure. Other places that are blissfully free from the influence of big faceless corporations will not be so lucky.
No one is riding to the rescue of Mississippi. Left to the mercy of Neo-Confederate bigots, Mississippi will just keep getting poorer. Like the residents of Flint, Michigan who, over time, voted their way into a cascade of catastrophes so severe that even the federal government can’t bail them out, our own domestic Afghanistan is building for itself a landscape of almost irremediable misery.
Beware what happens when you lose the attention of those terrible ‘corporate interests.’ Take a moment today to feel thankful that you live in a place where big corporations still want to do business.