by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Readers of one of the nation’s top conservative publications will encounter these words as they peruse the latest issue:
Inauguration Day 2013 was a moment of jubilation for conservatives. After four years of lackluster economic growth and a series of personal and policy mistakes, the incumbent chief executive, a history-making Democrat, was replaced by a conservative with an attractive policy agenda and a skillful campaign team. In a concise, hopeful inaugural address, the newly elected Republican leader of the executive branch promised to focus the administration’s attention and resources on job creation and economic growth in the short run, while setting the stage for long-term solutions to the government’s fiscal woes.
I’m describing the inauguration of Pat McCrory, North Carolina’s first Republican governor in 20 years. His election to replace retiring one-term Democrat Bev Perdue, the state’s first female governor, was one of the few bright spots for the GOP last November, so McCrory got more national attention than the incoming governor of the nation’s tenth-largest state would normally have received.
In general, however, Republican success in state and local politics is an underreported story. It extends far beyond the Tar Heel State. The post-2012 talk of conservatism’s electoral weakness and policy failures is disconnected from the personal experiences of many politicians, journalists, analysts, and activists who work at the state and local levels. While grassroots conservatives were disappointed at the reelection of President Obama and Republican misfires in races for the U.S. Senate, they continue to enjoy unprecedented influence and success in state capitals — while local liberals feel alienated from the governments and institutions they long dominated.
John Hood leads his latest National Review article with those paragraphs. (Look in the lower left corner of the cover art, and you’ll find Hood’s byline.) The article builds upon some of the themes Hood first explored shortly after the November election,