Why Are North Carolina Liberals So @&%*! Angry?
The burning heart of liberal activism and indignation this summer can be found, of all places, in the charming capital city of the Tar Heel State. On Monday, for the 11th week in a row, thousands of protesters descended on the copper-domed Capitol denouncing the policies of a Republican Party that for the first time since Reconstruction controls North Carolina's governorship and legislature. Some 800 agitators have been arrested for disrupting the legislature. By all accounts, these "Moral Monday" rallies, though peaceful, are growing in size and volume.
The rallies have caught the eye of the national media, with some referring to Raleigh as the "Madison of the South." Madison, of course, is the famously liberal capital of Wisconsin that turned into a political frying pan in February 2011 when the state's Republican lawmakers reformed union collective-bargaining rules.
Thom Goolsby, an outspoken GOP state senator, has jokingly dismissed the protests in Raleigh as "Moron Mondays" and predicted that they would fade in the weeks ahead. Perhaps, but the stated goal of the organizers is that these rallies evolve into the same kind of political tour de force on the left that the tea party has become on the right. Moral Mondays may be coming soon to a state capital near you.
So what are liberals of all stripes so angry about in North Carolina? I put that question to the organizer of the Moral Monday movement, Rev. William Barber II, a loquacious, likable and politically shrewd preacher and leader of the North Carolina NAACP. (Think Jesse Jackson, but with charm and genuine conviction.) He preaches "civil disobedience" and trains peaceful demonstrators on how to get arrested. He is also a master at political theater.
After a near-five minute sermon about how Republicans have made the state a "crucible of extremism and injustice," it became clear the answer to my question is he and his followers are mad as hell about, well . . . everything. The list of grievances is long but includes unemployment-insurance cuts that took some 70,000 recipients in the state off the rolls, state lawmakers' refusal to sign up for ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion, a proposed voter-ID law, and of course "tax cuts for the rich."
This past Monday marchers were waving signs that read "Justice for Trayvon Martin," "Stop Fracking in North Carolina," and "Vouchers Destroy Public Schools." In recent weeks, demonstrators were out in force demanding abortion rights. On July 2, the state Senate passed a bill requiring health regulations and certified doctors at abortion clinics, a requirement that has been denounced by pro-choice activists as an assault on women. Gov. Pat McCrory has said he would veto that bill, and the state's House of Representatives has since passed a revised bill that will now head back to the Senate.
Mostly, however, these protests are about money. The Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank in North Carolina, recently published an analysis of the financial statements of the left-wing groups sponsoring these rallies, such as the Community Development Initiative and the Institute of Minority Economic Development. It found they have collected about $100 million in state grants, loans and contracts. No wonder they're enraged over GOP lawmakers' attempts to rein in spending.