North Carolina – Battleground State

Bill Moyers: State of Conflict – North Carolina

I highly recommend watching the video in the link above. North Carolina is one of the states in which the two polarized sides of the war over the soul of the United States are going directly head to head. It is a portrait miniature of the larger picture of what is happening in the rest of the country.

North Carolina has long held a unique political identity and position among the generally conservative southern states. In the first half of the 20th century, the NC state government made a conscious decision to attract businesses to NC. They created the second largest highway system in the country on top of rail and river-ferry transportation. They developed The Research Triangle around the three most prestigious universities in the state (two of which are among the most prestigious in the country): University of NC at Chapel Hill, NC State University in Raleigh and Duke University in Durham. They gave tax breaks to business to entice them to move in and allotted industrial space evenly with spaces left to nature.

And they continued to grow tobacco and cotton (as well as more common produce) in the rural areas. So North Carolina is a group of urban, university-town left-leaning islands in a sea of rural and military (we have a ton of military bases) right leaning conservatism. For most of the 20th century, North Carolina was able to walk the balance between the two and arose as one of, if not the, most progressive and economically and educationally successful states in the South.

Then in 2010, backed by superPACs funded by the Koch brothers and Art Pope (now budget advisor to the Republican governor), the Tea Party Republicans took control of both houses of the state’s General Assembly. In 2012 they got the Governor’s mansion as well.

It helped that NC is one of the most gerrymandered states in the U.S..

They immediately cut the education budget to ribbons (they have cut hundreds of milions dollars from education in the last five years), cut taxes to corporations and the wealthy while raising taxes on the middle and working classes, froze transportation budgets, cut police and fire budgets, put forward and passed the first state constitutional amendment…to ban gay marriage, rejected the Medicaid expansion leaving hundreds of thousands of low income families without health care coverage, cuts to HIV/AIDS drug programs, cuts to child development programs, cuts to enviornmental regulators, cuts to drug treatment programs, gone after unions, opened judicial elections to private donors, reduced unemployment to the shortest period  in the country, passed a restrictive voter I.D. law aimed at disenfranchising minorities and young people the instant the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional, passed laws restricting access to safe abortions, and allowed widespread fracking in the state WHILE MAKING TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE IT and made it illegal to disclose what chemicals they pump into the ground doing it.

Oh, and outlawed any legislation/regulation based on climate change research. Kind of an issue in the low-lying-regularly-hit-by-hurricanes-Outer Banks.

And yes, there has been a proposal to establish a state religion. Fortunately, that was killed. This time.

I attended the HKonJ march in February and the myriad number of groups protesting in that march was dizzying. Unions, minorities, educators, medical community, women’s rights, gay rights, environmentalists, immigrants, tax activists, I mean everyone in the Center and to the Left was there. That is how far off the rails our state government has gone: They have pissed off everyone.

Moral-Mon.-

Except the delusional idiotic twats who think that evolution is brainwashing, there is an agenda to make the entire world gay, women should stay in the kitchen and that they have to protect the tax shelter for their future lottery winnings.

I wish I was kidding.

The Republicans/Tea Party swear they are “small government conservatives” who believe that most legislative matters should be left to local politics, from the states downward. They are the party of “fiscal and personal responsibility” who think that the individual knows how better spend the money for their community.

(Which, like communism, libertarianism looks great on paper but does not work when encountering human nature on the real world. First of all, most people are not going to take the money they save from not paying federal taxes to support their communities. They are going to buy a new flat screen TV. Secondly, there already exists an example of privatized public service. It’s called “cable.” Now just imagine if your police and fire departments, garbage collection, education, street repairs, water and power, etc. was run like a cable company. Don’t scream, you’ll wake the neighbors. But I digress…)

Then yesterday, they passed a law that restricted the right of counties to raise and use local sales taxes. Specifically this was aimed at Wake county, a “blue” left-leaning county where Raleigh and the North Carolina State University are, who wanted to raise a sales tax to supplement their eviscerated education and transportation budgets. Well, the small state government is not having any of that.

So much for the “small government” conservative. It’s just the screaming hypocrisy and projection of the Right that galls me beyond belief. They will pass all these restrictive, invasive laws and then whine about their “religious freedom” being infringed when people protest for the right to live their life in freedom and peace. They hate giving “handouts” to the poor in social programs, but they throw subsidies and tax breaks and bailouts at businesses and the uber-wealthy by the handful. They say they are small government, yet pass the most controlling laws for both the local government and the individual. How can anyone vote for these people? How stupid are the voters that they vote against their own interests by voting for these gallingly stupid, power-mad, sexist, bigoted, exploitative, greed-driven assholes!

I moved here in 2006, before the Tea Party took power, and I would leave if I could afford to. But to add insult to injury, state employee wages, including those in universities, have been frozen for five years. No merit-based raises and only one 1% cost of living increase at one point during that entire time.

But I remind myself in this state, I’m one of the lucky ones with job security and great benefits.

P.S. I came across this gem today as well. So now, NC Republicans don’t want to just deny health insurance coverage for birth control, they want to do so for prenatal care and childbirth too. Because that is entirely the woman’s personal responsibility. Men have nothing to do with it at all.

Which it would not surprise me in the slightest if they actually did not know that men had anything to do with pregnancy.

Of course, insurance coverage has to cover their prostate exams, testicular cancer and Viagra. That’s just the natural order of things.

On a lighter note:

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4 thoughts on “North Carolina – Battleground State

    • Me too. If my posts sometimes seem frivolous, the political situation in the U.S. is why. I had a friend in California who got a job offer in NC and asked me what it was like here. I told him about the beautiful countryside, the farmers markets, the recreational actives, and the university town he might move to. Then I told him what was happening politically. He stayed in California.

      It is incredibly frustrating because, as the Moyer special pointed out, the Tea Party Republicans have a “veto-proof” majority. Even if we had a Democrat governor, they would still have complete control over legislation. We have to vote them out and they have dedicated hundred of millions of dollars to staying in power. The thing that frustrates me more is between 2002 and 2006, the Republicans had complete control over Federal government. They ruled both houses of Congress, the White House and dominated the Supreme Court. And we got into at least one unnecessary and expensive war (Iraq) and at least handled one badly (Afghanistan), and the economy crashed, and they failed to handle Katrina effectively, and etc.. Their policies were failures, almost across the board. But when the people voted them out of the White House and out of the Senate, they did not just not learn anything, they doubled down. “These policies only failed because we didn’t do them hard enough!” Every year they move further to the right and no matter how much reality says “Your way doesn’t work,” they just keep digging in and getting more zealous.

      I lean left in my most of my political ideologies, but I also believe that balance is necessary. I believe that controlled capitalism the most socially permeable economic system. Too much control stagnates it, too little results in boom & bust and an oligarchy ruled by an wealthy aristocracy. I believe that a balance between conservatism and progressiveness is healthy. The progressives move the country forward, the conservatives keep it from moving too far, too fast. But the conservatives in power today don’t just want to keep us from moving forward, they want to yank the country backward to about the 1880’s/1920’s. Their polices are merely replays of ones that have gotten this country into major crisis in the past, crisis within living memory. It the curse of those who do not learn history to repeat it. And it is the curse of historians to watch them do it.

      And they view balance and compromise as weakness. They voted out their Republican House Majority Leader and staunch supporter, Eric Cantor, for working with Democrats to pass the Federal budget to keep the country running. That is how absolute and intransigent they are.

      This country has not been this polarized since shortly before the American Civil War, and we may be heading for another.

      • I would hesitate to comment on the politics of another country, so I’ll say nothing about that, but about controlled capitalism you are so right, it appears, so far, to be the only system that works. Well, sort of works. Have to admit politics just wears me out. None of our politicians inspire anything even remotely like trust, that died when Tony Benn did.

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