North Carolina Deserves Better Than Being a Testing Lab for Right-Wing Extremism

For the past several weeks, hundreds of protestors have been coming to Raleigh, North Carolina for “Moral Mondays” protests against the action of the state legislature—and not without good reason. The radicals who are in charge of the state legislature have made the state a laboratory for policies that shift power away from working people.

The legislature has already passed big cuts to public schools, and the state’s unemployment insurance system has been gutted, stranding the unemployed. But they’re not done yet—two more attacks on justice are imminent.

Today, a state Senate committee is considering a massive bill of changes to the state’s election laws—changes that would radically restrict access to voting and increase the power of money in elections. The bill would reduce voters’ ability to register, add strict new voter ID rules, and reduce early voting hours. It would also increase the ability of volunteers to challenge voters at the polls and increase campaign donation limits. “The proposed bill eliminates nearly all of the democratic advances that made North Carolina one of the most progressive southern states when it comes to voting rights,” writes Ari Berman in The Nation. There’s no crisis caused by the state’s once-broad access to voting, no dangers anyone can point to; this is a pyre, indefensible power grab. On top of a brutal gerrymander, this action is clearly designed to limit the ability of working-class North Carolinians to hold the legislature accountable.

Meanwhile, the legislature has passed, and Gov. McCrory is expected to sign, a “tax reform” bill that shifts the cost of running the state from wealthier people to poorer ones. The bill would cut income taxes and corporate taxes while ending a key tax credit and expanding sales taxes. People who make more than $100,000 a year will see tax cuts; almost everyone lower down the income scale will end up paying more in taxes.

Taken together, the legislature’s attacks on the unemployed and public schools, their tax plan’s giveaway to richer people at the expense of middle class and poorer people, and their jaw-dropping voter suppression efforts amount to one of the biggest, fastest changes in the balance of power we’ve seen in any state.

It’s no wonder that the Moral Monday protests continue. North Carolinians are fed up with what their legislators are doing.