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Mark Robinson: Not “based,” not MAGA

By Monica Chen

Last summer, I drove to Greensboro for the first time in years and the way city had changed made me sad. It was listless. A blanket of exhaustion draped over the city, including UNC Greensboro, wasting the energy of the people.

The city had become comatose thanks to Democrats who had taken from it and benefitted from it so much for decades, then kept it trapped under their falsehoods when young people were ready to turn over a new leaf.

After Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson announced his campaign for governor for 2024, I wondered what he has said about Greensboro, which is his hometown and where he still lives.

Has he been calling attention to the racism in downtown businesses? Has he been saying some of the traffic changes are unnecessary and add to confusion? Has he been lauding the city’s history, such as its International Civil Rights Museum?

No, he hasn’t done any of that. In fact, shockingly, Robinson has tweeted just once about Greensboro, to gloat about the gun show the city council debated in 2018. Robinson’s speech at that April meeting was his claim to fame. (Other speakers at that meeting had great remarks too. And Spring 2018, pre-COVID, the economy was stronger. Why was Robinson not speaking on, say, what needs to be done in the furniture industry instead?)

And the only time he has mentioned Guilford County? Just earlier this month when he visited the 9-1-1 call center, a couple days after he put out word for tickets to his campaign announcement.

So how is it that Robinson at his announcement on Saturday, held at the Ace Speedway in Alamance County, used all the designs and even music (as reporters noted) of Trump rallies? Why is he being lauded by conservatives as “based” when he has barely engaged with his city, shown that he cares about what’s going on there?

Also, you cannot help but notice while scrolling through his social media – Was Robinson really still wearing a COVID mask in February? Why?

There is a lot more to say about Robinson’s campaign, how right off the bat it’s about his bio rather than about policy ideas, or even any consistency or accountability in his positions.

Robinson took two days after the event on Saturday to announce it on Twitter, letting reporters, fellow Republicans and Democrats do the work of spreading the word for him. His web site still only has his bio, nothing on his policy positions or the endorsements he’s received.

His biography — a hardscrabble, inspiring life story now well-known to probably most North Carolinians — is a compelling one, but it’s clear from the start, Robinson is campaigning on that alone.

Worse than that, it’s not just that Robinson does not say exactly what he stands for but it’s also his lack of follow-up and a willingness, over the years, to perch on top of issues other people are more passionate about and have worked more on.

For example, how about the moment that made Robinson famous and gave him a platform? The speech on gun rights?

You would think that a fervent believer in the Second Amendment would have been calling out for years the racist history of the Pistol Permit in North Carolina.

But Robinson has never talked about that. He didn’t even cheer when it was repealed in March.

And then there’s F.A.C.T.S., the task force started by Robinson in 2021. How many stories of abuse from parents, students and teachers has that task force collected? Why has Robinson not acted on any of them and instead stood on the sidelines as other people like moms groups and others have done the heavy lifting?

There’s more.

When Robinson announced he was running for governor, Democrats immediately jumped to condemn him. For once — rarely these days — they were right.

“Mark Robinson is an extremist who has built a legacy of division by spewing hate toward the LGBTQ community, disrespecting women, putting culture wars ahead of classrooms, and pushing to ban abortion without exceptions,” said NC Democratic Party’s chairwoman, Anderson Clayton.

Robinson called gay people “filth” in 2021, in a video that would make anyone who has known a gay person cringe. Did he mean that trans ideology-body mutilation LGBTQ+ is “filth”? You might have given him that benefit of the doubt. But his complete silence on the Covenant School shooting in Nashville recently and the trans shooter Audrey Hale shows he did just mean regular gay people are “filth.”

Disrespecting women? Absolutely. Robinson’s view on abortion is harsh enough — no abortion for any reason. But what’s also telling is that he has given no support to pregnancy centers. There is one in Greensboro.

The truth is Robinson is a Republican that the Democratic Party loves. They’ll never admit that of course, but his presence gives the party fuel for its endless culture wars, identity politics and legitimizes Democrats’ usually wrong ideas about the world.

And the racists I encountered last summer at a downtown Greensboro business? They would be happy for Robinson’s “controversial” and “firebrand” sayings to undermine the real from the ground up political strength in Greensboro. They’d love for Robinson to take that energy at opportune times and funnel it into – well, just himself, like he did with gun rights and schools.

More on that point, what Clayton did not observe in her statement about Robinson is that he is also not good to his own party.

Truly, there’s nothing more despicable than a politician who co-opts the styles of people who are oppressed and then does absolutely nothing to improve their lives. In Durham, MAGA people, country people, are trapped in workplaces and their homes where they’re abused by the city and passersby, where at any time, the police, the sheriff, the fire department, the DOT, can come and shut them down for any reason. How many times has Robinson, the lieutenant governor who made his 2024 campaign announcement with a Trump-like event, actually spoken up for MAGA people? Zero. Zero tweets.

Also, no tweets at all about the Mar-A-Lago raid on former President Donald Trump, or Trump’s indictment this month. Robinson is glad to take the attention from being associated with Trump, from campaigning with Trump, from using his style. But there is apparently zero loyalty.

Finally, Robinson has a habit of perching on what other people are passionate about – gun rights, schools – and getting more attention because of his life story, because of who he is. So now that he has kicked off his campaign for governor, why hasn’t he stated what his policy positions are? Is it so that he can wait and watch what other people do, adopt their ideas, their styles, and not only of political candidates but of activists, journalists, and regular people?

Based on his past actions, it would not take a stretch of the imagination to think Robinson will do exactly that.

The truth is Robinson and the Democratic frontrunner Josh Stein are actually mirror images of each other. They both value political ambition above all else.

 

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