It’s one of the great conundrums of modern society: All around us, images of wealth, comfort, individual freedom and swiftly advancing technology tell a story of promise and progress. For millions and millions of people, life really is safer, freer, healthier and wealthier than ever before. And yet, as nearly all of us can sense, something is clearly amiss in this picture.
There are a lot of competitors when it comes to listing and ranking the most hard-hearted and destructive acts of the last couple of General Assemblies and the first year and a half of the Pat McCrory administration.
There is a bit of mythology percolating through the news media these days that the Moral Mondays/Forward Together movement led by Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP is somehow a stalking horse for the state Democratic Party and Democratic politicians. A recent news story even ran in several North Carolina news outlets under the headline “NC's protests are Democratic tool in election year.”
The story was a mile off-base.
It’s been a tough first year in office for Pat McCrory and the Governor would do well to study and re-learn some basic political lessons if he gets some downtime over the holidays. The recent controversy over the Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks should provide a couple.
This has been a blessedly placid year for weather in North Carolina. For the first time in what seems like a long while, we’ve been spared destructive droughts, extended periods of excessive heat and -- knock on wood -- major hurricane damage. How pleasant it’s been to enjoy what feels like a more or less “normal” year!
Sometimes, it’s hard to say what divides North Carolinians more: race or what to do about race. A new and powerful report by some data experts at the University of North Carolina helps to shine a light on both of these divisions.
Conservatives at the General Assembly are advancing legislation again this year that would require every North Carolinian who comes to the polls on Election Day to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. It is, of course, an enormously controversial proposal and last week, to their partial credit, members of a House Committee actually held a public hearing on the matter in which a number of groups and energetic citizens got a chance to be heard.
In the days and weeks right after the 2012 election, a popular bit of political wisdom held that a sea change was underway in America's political relationship to immigrants – particularly the Latino community. "Things will be different," we were told. "Even conservatives now understand that it's politically foolish to alienate this fast-growing group of voters."
Unfortunately, while there may be some truth to this development at the national level, North Carolina conservatives seem not to have gotten the memo.
It didn’t take the conservatives running North Carolina government and their political allies long to get down to it. The 2013 session has scarcely begun, but the top priority is already front and center: Slashing the state’s torn and threadbare social safety net.