I’ve never intended for this to be a political blog really. I don’t write about politics much anymore. The only general exception to this is some LGBT issues (especially trans issues)
. Like most Americans, I think of myself as being pretty moderate. I’m rather conservative on most economic issues, moderate on foreign policy, liberal leaning on environmental issues, and very liberal on social issues. However, whats been going on in my home state has really drawn my attention back to politics.
What is happening to my state? I used to be proud to tell people I was from North Carolina. It’s a state with a rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious Barbecue. Few other states in the South, let alone the country, can rival the number of prestigious academic institutions that call NC home. The Tarheel state has always been one of the most progressive in the region and amazingly diverse. It was reluctant to succeed from the union before the Civil War, but compelled to after Virginia’s succession. During the Civil rights movement, it was one of the states that didn’t fight integration. But now, for the first time since 1870 republicans have taken over the state government. And not only is their agenda regressive, but their tactics are despicable.
The NC house and Senate have passed a bill that will dramatically increase the requirements on clinics that perform abortions. The biggest problem I have this move (I of course suspect the motive of this bill is to close most of the abortion clinics in NC) is the lack of transparency. The house bill for instance, was tacked onto a motorcycle safety bill and subject to little debate.
A couple months ago, NC representatives introduced a bill into the house that would allow NC to establish a state religion. Thankfully it was dropped by the Republican speaker of the house. Nonetheless, it made NC a media laughing stock for trying to violate the 1st amendment. Around the same time, members of the house also tried to introduce a bill which would make it impossible for car companies like Tesla to operate in North Carolina. Again, luckily this bill didn’t become law; but it as disturbing because of the large amount of money the Representative who introduced the bill took from dealerships. My state has also cut unemployment benefits (I’m not a huge fan of long term benefits), reduced public school funding, and tried removed several laws the Republicans don’t agree with. Another shocking move was the attempt to get rid of tax deductions for students who vote outside of their hometowns, which I found pretty despicable. I am at least happy to see Republican leadership in the legislature showing some discretion, but not enough.
This has all been very disturbing to me because I have never really known a time in NC when things didn’t seem on the decline. I watched my family’s hometown of Kinston fall into urban decay and economic stagnation. I’ve know Democratic governors who were both corrupt and incompetent. The economy of NC remains badly damaged with the 5th highest unemployment rate; While areas like the triangle are thriving, much of NC is in bad shape. Sadly, I haven’t seen many moves by the state legislature that feel like legitimate attempts to fix these issues. The Republicans seem too power-drunk on finally taking control of a state that has been under one party rule for years and intend on using their power in the short run to advance their most ideological goals.
I do have some hope. Perhaps these events will shake up NC enough to inspire some real change. The Republicans may have cleared out the good old boy net-work in the legislature, and will soon find themselves replaced my new candidates ready to make North Carolina a better state. Maybe Gov. McCrory will encourage legislation from the middle, rather than the far right. Maybe the economy will improve and we’ll regain a foothold and improve education.
These are all just my optimistic thoughts and personal disappointments – but i’d like to hope that the state my family has called home for 216 years, and that I feel deeply attached too, can do better.
This post was inspired by the passing of the ‘motorcycle abortion law.’ You can read another similar take on the events in this New York Times editorial article.