Gov. McCrory’s Orwellian Freudian Slip

When Pat McCrory began his second gubernatorial election campaign, Charlotte Magazine ran a feature article in its April, 2013 issue entitled “Pat McCrory is the Right’s Man for the Job”. In it, Michael Cooper quoted, “He’s a fan of George Orwell’s 1984.”

In a WRAL profile from January 14, 2008 (McCrory’s first campaign run for governor), 1984 was again listed as a favorite book.

Even a January 12, 2015 profile on the governor by Margaret Duke on, 1984 was listed as McCrory’s favorite book.

Maybe the governor simply enjoys reading dystopian literature, but the connection between his deeply held republican principles of less government intervention in the lives of citizens and the warning of Big Brother watching us at all times is very clear.

Running two gubernatorial campaigns that tout how he will strengthen state’s rights while keeping the federal government at bay resonates with many in North Carolina. The governor has worked in his term to not expand Medicaid. He has been an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act. He has even opposed Common Core, not necessarily because of what standards it offers, but that it has federally mandated features.

Sounds like he is protecting us from Big Brother. It would then make sense that he lists 1984 as a favorite book.

However, I wonder if the governor ever read Orwell’s other great book, Animal Farm. Granted it is a simpler text, but its message is still very strong. If the governor has read 1984 and declared it a favorite book, then one could assume that Animal Farm has been read and its meaning digested.

Animal Farm is an allegorical fable that Eric Blair (George Orwell was his pen name) uses to comment on the rise of Soviet communism, its assault on individual freedoms, and the absolute corruption of those who grab power. In it animals take over a farm from their human owner and immediately set up a utopian society in which all animals are equal. They even come up with a list of commandment for all to abide by. They read as follows.

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

However, as a few consolidate control of the farm (in this case, pigs), abuses of power occur. Think of it as redistricting of sorts. What happens throughout the book is a rewriting of the commandments. Those who retain power get to write the rules. They also get to rewrite the rules. Think of the Voter ID Act and the HB2 bill that targets the LGBT community among other things.

In Animal Farm, the rules get rewritten so that those in power can get more power. Eventually toward the end of the book the seven commandments read as such:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
    2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
    3. No animal shall wear clothes.
    4. No animal shall sleep in a bed – WITH SHEETS.
    5. No animal shall drink alcohol – TO EXCESS.
    6. No animal shall kill any other animal – WITHOUT CAUSE.
    7. All animals are equal – BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

These rules and “revisions” of four of those rules are made in secret and through an undemocratic process.

Concentrate on that last commandment – “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” It’s almost like it says, “All citizens of North Carolina are equal, but those who are not LGBT or have an acceptable form of identification to vote are more equal than other North Carolinians.”

Think of a special session that the North Carolina General Assembly recently convened. Now think how great literature truly mimics life. The HB2 Law was brought to the floor, further revised by those in power, and signed by Gov. McCrory within a matter of hours. In the book Animal Farm, newly revised “commandments” were constructed in secret sessions and then introduced under a farce of “protecting the public” and “common sense” without any explanation – in a matter of hours.

The governor’s defense of the HB2 law has been nothing more than smoke and mirrors, avoidance of questions, blaming the media, and red herrings. That just like it was in the book when the pigs in control refused to explain themselves. They were simply more equal.

If asked what your favorite book is, it should be assumed that the book had a profound impact on how you view life. That book may have taught you something that guides your actions and decisions to this very day.

It is not a far-fetched idea for a republican governor of a southern state to pick one of Orwell’s books as a personal favorite in light of his public political ideology and how government can affect lives of people so widely.

But is it not ironic that he and other GOP leaders maybe use another Orwell novel as a playbook on how to seize more power?