Editor’s note: Republican Wes Westmoreland, a printer from Shelby, was appointed to the N.C. Senate (District 46) one year ago. His term ends this month. These are his reflections of his year in Raleigh:
As my time in Raleigh draws to a close a year after my appointment to the N.C. Senate, I find myself reflecting on three primary thoughts.
First, my confidence in North Carolina’s government is greater today than it was when I took office. I am struck by the caliber of individuals who serve on both sides of the aisle. Most work for a living, many are small business owners; none is getting rich on the $13,951 salary. With few exceptions, these individuals sought office for the right reasons, and genuinely pursue what they believe to be in the best interest of North Carolina, even if their ideology is different from mine.
The leadership in both houses, from committee chairs to President Pro-Tempore Phil Berger and Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca in the Senate, and Speaker Thom Tillis and Rules Chair Tim Moore in the House, keep both chambers on an efficient schedule. They effectively guide positive legislation through both bodies. North Carolina has generally chosen well in its elected officials.
Second, the bureaucracy is worse than I imagined possible. I have sat through numerous committee meetings in which the asininity of the bloated bureaucracy simply defied belief to the point it was difficult to maintain composure. In private business, a round of immediate firings would be the demanded action; in the political world, bureaucracy is built upon so many layers which have evolved to such a degree it is self-propagating and virtually impossible to stop.
The final thought is that North Carolina and her sister states have lost a battle from which I fear we will never recover. The federal usurpation of state authority leaves the states with little ability to defend the rights of her people. As a nation, we have lost the philosophical basis on which we were founded, the understanding that individual rights are granted by the Creator, not a government; that a right may extract nothing from any individual, and that only through laissez-faire capitalism are these rights ensured. It will be difficult to restore these very basic understandings and return governance to its proper role – from the people and through the states.
While the majority of North Carolina’s elected leadership has an understanding of the intent of the Founders, the majority of the opportunities to govern from that position have been commandeered by a turgid and overreaching federal government, for which both political parties are at fault.
I am confident that North Carolina is in good hands and is moving in a direction that will make our state more attractive to business and a freer place to live, work and play. But it has become increasingly difficult for any state to defend the rights of its people. What began as a slippery slope of federal encroachment a century ago has today become the rapid descent of a sled on ice.
Only through a better understanding of America’s founding principles, the increased involvement of those with a clear understanding of these principles, and the patience required to pursue change within the bureaucracy we have created, can any people in this union once again realize the opportunities our ancestors envisioned for us.