It is always a shock to some people when Republicans who run as conservatives actually look like they are going to govern that way. This may be particularly true in North Carolina, which had a Democratic-dominated legislature for a gazillion years and a Democrat in the governor's mansion - with interruptions for a couple of moderate Republicans - for a similar gazillion.
So I expect to hear some progressive exclamations and attacks of the vapors from Pat McCrory's latest appointments, Art Pope and Kieran Shanahan. Both gentlemen are real, bona fide, conservative Republicans. Pope will be deputy budget director. I expect his influence will be somewhat larger than traditional for that position. And Shanahan will be secretary of public safety. He promises to have a slightly higher profile than your typical public safety secretary, because Shanahan is no shrinking violet.
When I was a kid reporter in Virginia many years ago, the Democrats had the huge misfortune to lose the state attorney general's office to a Republican. I don't know whether there had ever been a Republican AG in the history of the commonwealth. Maybe in the years after the Late Unpleasantness, but I couldn't swear to that. One of the first things that the new attorney general did was switch all the highway department's right-of-way work from Democratic law firms to Republican law firms. The Democrats howled. Why, these fine (Democratic) law firms had done a phenomenal, efficient service to the Commonwealth for generations, and this ..... this Republican (spoken as an epithet) was putting the state's magnificent land-acquisition process at risk in the cause of rank patronage.
Now, the eons of Democratic attorneys general shoveling that lucrative work to reliable Democratic law firms was not considered rank patronage ever before, but never mind.
As the Democrats have lost the legislature and are now in the process of exiting the governor's mansion, there has been a lot of gnashing of teeth among progressives about the way the Republicans have been running things, and this gnashing will continue after McCrory is sworn in.
But this is why elections have consequences. For many years, the Democrats viewed elections in this state as a mild inconvenience that required that they expend a little energy. They viewed their locks on the branches of government as the normal state of nature. And they allowed a culture of corruption to flourish in some quarters. Their decline is not the result of some meteor hitting Jones Street. The Democrats had a big part in creating their current situation. What they should not do now is sit around and mope.
It is important for many reasons to have competition in politics. We need two strong parties in this state. Actually, the Republicans have a strong vested interest in a viable Democratic opposition. They actually have a lot to lose if, believing themselves invincible, they go off the deep end.
It is hard to keep yourself honest when the opposition is weak. It is hard to know if some of your ideas are short-sighted if there is no opposition prepared to point out their weaknesses. One-party control is great while it lasts for the party that enjoys it, but eventually it collapses after a run of bad decisions and abuses of power.