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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: NC is not immune to far-right politicians


North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.  
Photo Courtesy of Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/TNS.

The rise of far-right politics across the country is hard to ignore. From both the national and state level, we are seeing extreme and pervasive conservative ideas challenge individual rights on every front, from abortion policy to LGBTQ+ protections to economic equality.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is one example of how far-right politicians pose a threat to our state. 

Elected as the state’s first Black lieutenant governor in 2021, the Republican has expressed interest in running for governor in 2024 after current Governor Roy Cooper is no longer eligible for reelection. 

His campaign for lieutenant governor rested on his Christian identity — fighting for the rights of the “unborn,” in particular, preserving Second Amendment rights and being a self-proclaimed Patriot.

While his ideology seems to stick to the GOP status quo on paper, especially on the abortion front, viral videos and old Facebook posts show how deeply his intolerance runs.

A video that went viral last year shows the lieutenant governor calling homosexuality “filth,” which prompted state Democrats to call for his resignation. These are not the first of Robinson’s homophobic comments: Facebook posts that predate his lieutenant gubernatorial campaign warn that homosexuality will lead to pedophilia and the end of civilization.

In 2018, Robinson went viral for vocalizing a strong pro-gun sentiment at a Greensboro City Council meeting after the Parkland High School shooting in Florida — a glaringly insensitive stance that lacks compassion and appeals to voters’ fears rather than logical policy responses. 

Facebook posts mock prominent liberal women, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Obama, call Black Democrats “slaves” and tout the Confederate flag. Another self-made meme shows Robinson holding a gun and Trump coffee mug, supposedly full of “leftist tears.”

Robinson’s political ideology is one that appeals to the prejudices of far-right voters. Behind the veil of a patriot and Christian, Robinson spews hateful messages (albeit, in the form of ridiculous Facebook memes) to capitalize on the fears of many moderate or conservative voters, pushing them further right in their views.

To voters that hold existing intolerant views, the unearthing of Robinson's old social media posts and speeches resonates with their own prejudices and gives them the confidence to vocalize them. The lieutenant governor is the second-highest office in the state, so expressing these ideas poses the risk of them being normalized by the public. 

But even to the moderate Republican voter, witnessing such controversies unfold, it may make more sense to abide by party allegiances than to vote Democrat, even if you don't agree with all of Robinson's blatantly homophobic and problematic statements. Political polarization has made it difficult for even the most moderate voters to remain moderate, and we are seeing the consequences of this unfold in our state.

Even when blatantly anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is not formally embedded into his platform, the viewpoints he expresses are dangerous and intolerant.

The consequences of far-right state leaders are evident in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott just signed unprecedented abortion restrictions into law. We saw House Bill 2 have similarly oppressive outcomes in N.C. at the hands of a Republican General Assembly and former Gov. Pat McCrory. 

State politics are a unique environment for political demagogues to take control and create oppressing policy, and it's happening all around us. Refusing to recognize this can lead to this happening again in 2024.

It’s absolutely necessary that we pay attention to the things our politicians are doing and saying — both in and out of the political arena. Robinson is dangerous for N.C. — his temperament and intolerance make him unfit to serve as the lieutenant governor, let alone hold the governor’s seat.


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