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Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Trouble's my New Year's resolution

by Tom Sullivan

A Facebook friend "never one to suffer fools gladly" joked last night that if trends don't change soon "there's gonna be trouble."

Trouble's my New Year's resolution.

People who have never engaged in politics are still calling seven weeks after the election to ask what they can do. Are there buses going to the women's march in Washington? (Yes.) Is there going to be a local march for those who can't get to Washington? (Yes.) Is anyone going to Raleigh to protest what's going on there? (And then some.) Kim Yaman, a Kossack friend I've dubbed the Repeat Defender, got arrested again for civil disobedience during the HB2 repeal debacle. She made the front pages.

North Carolina has become a testing ground both for "whitelash" extremists and for the progressive counteroffensive, Politico reports:

Progressives and moderates watching across the country have been horrified about the evolution of a resolutely purple state into a hardcore bastion of untouchable conservative power—and what that might portend for a country where Donald Trump is in the White House and Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court and 32 state legislatures—25 of which will have Republicans at the helm of all three branches of government. “The reality is this exactly how empires fall … When people put their own political interest over the interest of institutions is when countries fail,” said Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and a former advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “I think the message from North Carolina is that the rules have changed.”
Rules? There are no rules here. This is serious and progressives need to get serious.
... Andrew Reynolds, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote in the Raleigh News & Observer that, in terms of freedom of electoral laws, fairness of party competition and other metrics, North Carolina now ranks “alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.” “I love North Carolina … [but] the state has really been leading the way in restraining democratic principles,” Reynolds said in an interview.

But others say North Carolina offers another lesson for national politics—that a party given that much seemingly unassailable power will eventually overreach. Helping lead the backlash in the state has been a loud and well-organized protest movement whose weekly protests at the state legislative building have gotten national coverage. Rev. William Barber III, the state NAACP leader whose passionate address at this summer’s Democratic National Convention called on viewers to be the “moral defibrillators of our time,” has called for a national economic boycott of North Carolina to demand the repeal of HB2, redrawing of fair electoral districts and the rescinding of many of laws seizing power from Cooper passed by the legislature in December.
Barber has already posted the signup page for the 11th Annual Moral March on Raleigh scheduled for Saturday February 11. The 2014 rally held in the wake of passage of the now court-gutted vote suppression bill attracted tens of thousands, but little press. That was then. This is now.

Roger Hickey of Campaign for America's Future wrote after the 2014 rally about how the Forward Together movement successfully got activists out of their silos and pulling together (links have been updated):
Long years of organizing and networking had built trust among groups representing various parts of the North Carolina community. And attacks on “my group” coming at the same time as attacks on “your group” forged stronger bonds. An inclusive People’s Agenda was forged, supported by an impressive list of coalition partners – from faith groups to labor unions to LGBT rights organizations to women’s groups and environmentalists. Look at these two links, which can both be found at http://www.hkonj.com/about. They are models for almost every state coalition in the nation.
That rally was in part about fighting North Carolina's voter suppression bill. The NC-NAACP and its co-litigants won that fight last July.

Isaiah Poole heard from an activist on the ground at the 2014 rally:
Edrie Irvine, a grassroots activist from Washington, D.C. who has been active in a number of demonstrations, said that this march was different. “So many previous gatherings have felt unfocused or hijacked at times,” she wrote in an email after the march. “Also, that while there may have been many different groups marching along the same street, it didn’t mean that after the event, we’d be still working together toward the same goals. Today, I not only heard a sense of unity in the messages but felt a sense of unity in the people. I didn’t walk away with that flushed sense of power I have felt at other times but more a sense of determination that the people I met along the way are committed toward positive ends, achievable ends – the path won’t be smooth and victory won’t come tomorrow but together they will lift each other up to reach, in Rev. Barber’s words, higher ground.” [Read Edrie Irvine’s full first-person account of her experience at the Moral March on Raleigh.]
Make no mistake. This is a fight. Time to fight back.

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