A week has passed since I was arrested along with 150 other citizens at Moral Monday for civil disobedience in the North Carolina General Assembly. During that time, Republican leaders have dug in their heels like petulant children, continuing to push for policies most North Carolina citizens oppose.
In a speech at the GOP convention in Charlotte, Governor Pat McCrory vowed that Republicans would continue their mission to change the status quo in government and change our economy. Are they ever.
For starters, the new status quo in government is a state legislature that is fundamentally illegitimate. Through the use of extreme gerrymandering, Republicans gained super-majorities in both houses even though they won barely half the popular vote. In the 2012 elections, a vote by a Democrat for a General Assembly seat counted only three-fifths of a vote by a Republican. If American observers were to witness this kind of cheating in a foreign election, we would refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the resulting government.
In terms of changing our economy, Republicans are doing exactly what McCrory wants using their three-point ALEC plan. 1. They are cutting taxes on the ultra-rich and raising taxes on everyone else. 2. They’re giving away hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives (bribes) for which there is no evidence of long-term benefit. 3. And they’re sacrificing billions in federal funding for Medicaid. This is money you and I have already paid in taxes, and now it’s going to other states.
With no moral leg to stand on and no sense of fairness, the General Assembly has devolved into a pack of bullies. How else to explain more than 300 citizens being handcuffed and carted off to the Wake County Detention Center over the past month? This aggressive approach is entirely a matter of choice. The capitol police could just as easily escort protesters from the General Assembly and give out citations, just like police officers give out traffic tickets.
Why are they choosing to get tough? There can be only one reason. Intimidation. Republican leaders want protesters to suffer, just like they want millions of other North Carolinians to suffer.
The people of North Carolina should be glad that Pat McCrory, Thom Tillis, and Phil Berger aren’t backing down from their reckless agenda. In a few short months, they’ve done something no Democrat has been able to do in ten years: unite those who are dedicated to progress for our state.
It is said that the darkest hour comes just before the storm. Moral Mondays will continue in North Carolina. Welcome to hurricane season.