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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

For Mark Robinson, let's keep the 'tenant' in 'lieutenant governor'

If you want a government job, but you don’t want to do any actual work, the best job to shoot for is lieutenant governor.

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In North Carolina, the lieutenant governor is supposed to break ties on any votes in the Senate. That occasionally matters — Bev Perdue, when she was lieutenant governor, cast the deciding vote in 2005 to approve a state lottery. But it doesn’t happen much. So mostly the lieutenant governor gives speeches and cuts ribbons and hangs around in case the governor keels over.

Several states don’t even have one.

And North Carolina has Mark Robinson, who makes a lot of us wish we were one of those states that did without.

Robinson has said straight couples are “superior” to gay couples; he’s said the coronavirus was a globalist plot to damage Donald Trump; he’s said the Marvel character Black Panther was created by an “agnostic Jew” and that the “Black Panther” movie was made by a “satanic Marxist.” That’s just, as they say, a smattering.

But the subject of guns is where Robinson talks the longest and loudest. He came into the public eye in 2018, when he showed up at a Greensboro City Council meeting to argue against canceling a local gun show after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. That speech went viral and got a lot of North Carolina conservatives behind him. And he has not taken his foot off the gas.

The day after a gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo with a modified AR-15 rifle, Robinson said this at a church in Nash County: “I got them AR-15s in case the government gets too big for his britches, because I'm going to fill the backside of them britches with some lead.”

And three days after an 18-year-old killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Robinson kept his commitment to be a featured speaker at the NRA’s national convention in Houston.

The governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately — they’re not a ticket like the president and vice president. Gov. Roy Cooper is fed up with Robinson. But there’s not a whole lot Cooper or anyone else can do. Robinson lives in the sweet spot: a job where he can say whatever fool things he wants without any real consequences.

Which gives me a crazy idea. I wonder if we ought to offer Mark Robinson the job of lieutenant governor for life.

Tell him he can keep his office in that old historic house right down from the governor’s mansion. Let him have some fancy stationery.

The catch is, he can never run for governor, like he’s supposedly considering in 2024. He also can’t run for Congress, or for any other job where he might be able to turn his ideas into laws.

Robinson currently makes about $140,000 a year. We can’t keep him from talking. But if we can keep him from actually doing anything, I’d say that’s money well spent.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.