North Carolina’s legislative session starts today, and with it comes the near-certainty of even more destruction at the hands of the NeoConfederates in Raleigh. Moral Mondays will also return:
As in 2013, the Moral Mondays will have a uniquely Southern tone, evoking the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. While the Rev. William Barber II, president of the state NAACP, has stressed the ecumenism of the protests—embracing Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers—they will nonetheless be steeped in the language and cadences of African-American Protestantism. This reflects a deliberate calculation to wrest the religious high ground away from conservatives.
“We’re taking the Bible back from the extremists,” says the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a state NAACP community organizer, who quotes from the Old Testament, Isaiah 1:10:
“Woe to those who make unjust laws… to deprive the poor of their rights.”
With Thom Tillis beating back a TeaPublican challenge for the right to face Sen. Kay Hagan in November, the siren song of “moderate” will be floated to see if anyone other than the Nice Polite Republican crowd is stupid enough to bite. There’s been a lot of damage done here since McCrory’s statehouse win, but in a state that counts the likes of Virgina Foxx, Patrick McHenry, and Renee Ellmers among its footsoldiers and the thoroughly detestable Art Pope as the moneyman, the phrase “stop hitting yourself” isn’t metaphorical. There is evidence, however, that the true nature of the GOP is reaching a wider audience:
Likewise, the NAACP has pushed into traditionally conservative regions of North Carolina—including Mitchell County in the Appalachian Mountains, where an overwhelmingly white crowd packed an Episcopal church last fall to listen to Barber’s message and interrupt with the occasional “amen.”
“It is unbelievable,” Gatewood says of these allies in places like Mitchell County. “They’re exemplifying enthusiasm that’s moving faster than some of our traditional NAACP leaders. When you’re coming against teachers, [people in conservative strongholds] have got relatives who are teachers. When you’re coming against people who are unemployed, some of them lost jobs at no fault of their own.”
In employing a scorched-earth policy against their enemies, the GOP has created even more adversaries – people who can see the harm GOP policies cause because they are being directly affected by (and better informed about) them. If that pattern continues and expands, we stand a chance of setting the state back on its rightful path.
UPDATE: This from Bendal at Balloon Juice:
...they passed a 2 year budget last year so this year is supposed to only be about ‘tweaking’ the budget to adjust things. Not this time.
As a result of their disastrous cutting of corporate income taxes and the tax rate on the very rich last year, NC is now $450 million short of projected revenue. We have a mandated balance budget; they have to do one of two things; raise taxes or cut spending to balance the budget. They could dip into ‘unspent revenue’ or the rainy day fund to fill the hole, but since they just replenished the RDF last year I wonder if they’ll deplete it so soon. In addition, there’s a $150 million Medicaid hole that has to be filled, and the governor wants to give teachers and state employees a pittance of a pay raise (it’s an election year after all). A 1% pay raise for state employees equals $300 million more that they don’t have, so we’re now up to around $900 million if the legislature agrees to the pay raises (they won’t though).
What’s left to cut? Not a whole lot; education and social programs will be slashed further, and some legislators are talking about cutting the corporate tax rate even MORE, which won’t change anything this year but will make things much worse next year, when we’re expected to have a $200+ million deficit again. This is exactly what our conservative legislators want, though; they talked last year about “starving state government” and no doubt are sharpening their knives already.
If you want to have a state left at all, you need to vote.