North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.
My home state of North Carolina has been in the news quite a bit lately, but unfortunately it’s not been good publicity. This New York Times editorial touches on quite a few of the antics of our wacky extremist legislature, who have in a few short months undone decades of progress.
In addition to the NYT laundry list of backward movements, the folks in Raleigh have actually tried to establish Christianity as the official state religion. They banned measuring sea level changes according to latest scientific methods because it was bad news for the coast. The latest budget proposal includes big tax cuts for the wealthy, but expanding sales taxes, eliminating the personal exemption and state EITC, and additional exemptions for seniors, shifts most of the burden to middle and lower income taxpayers. In addition to cutting unemployment benefits during a time when 8.8% of the state is unemployed (fifth in the nation) and refusing federal expanded Medicaid funds, these tax measures could push poorer families to the brink of ruin.
With no sense of irony, Republicans attached extensive abortion restrictions to a bill that bans recognition of Sharia law in family court. First of all, an anti-Sharia law bill is ridiculous and offensive. There has not been a single instance of a family law court having to deal with Sharia law in NC. Then they attach these eleventh-hour amendments to it that have NOTHING to do with an anti-Sharia law bill, except for how much it resembles actual Sharia law with regard to women’s rights, or lack thereof.
Some of the restrictions in the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act” (I’m not kidding!!) include restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services, banning of sex-selection abortions (is that a big problem? I’d like the stats on that), and new regulations that would cause all but one abortion clinic in the state to shut down.
Mere hours after attaching these unconstitutional amendments, Senate Republicans decided to hold a vote, after which the bill was passed by a 29-12 vote. Zero public discussion. Yeah, that’s NC democracy 2013 style.
As I’ve mentioned before, North Carolina is the country’s second most gerrymandered state, which is a form of disenfranchisement that undermines true representative democracy. Asheville, my home, and probably the most liberal town in the state, was literally chopped in half and rendered impotent in the last election. As has been rightly pointed out to me, Republicans aren’t the first to have done this. But if this is what happens when Republicans get the upper hand, God help us. I mean really, please, Jesus…help us.