Massive weekly protests reclaiming the moral high ground and confounding the 'Tea Party' in the once-moderate Tar Heel State...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2013, 1:39pm PT  

I've always wondered why non-Rightwing Christians have allowed Rightwingers to take "God" and "Jesus" as their own, particularly since progressive principles are far more in line with those said to be the teachings of Jesus.

The folks in North Carolina --- who are now under siege by Republican control of both congressional houses and the governorship for the first time in 150 years --- have been going about reclaiming the moral high ground with a series of massive (and growing larger) "Moral Monday" protests at the state house, so far resulting in about 900 arrests for civil disobedience as of this week's twelfth consecutive Monday protest.

The protests are being held by a wide coalition of groups in response to the radical Republican legislation --- much of it written out of state by the Koch-funded corporatist lobby, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) --- meant to see the state government shut down women's health clinics, cut education funding and, of particular note, suppress voters by truncating early voting, ending Sunday voting, banning NC's successful Election Day registration program, instituting tax penalties to parents whose children vote at their college residences, and by putting in place draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions. (See Ari Berman today at The Nation for more on the NC Republican's attempt to institute all of these "extreme voter suppression measures".)

At Salon, Kristin Rawls explains that the "Moral Monday" protests in NC, "that include support for LGBT and abortion rights", seem to be "confounding to the Tea Party", but not to the many groups of faith (as well as "atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths in attendance every week") who are finally taking back the moral high ground from the Rightwing hypocrites who have claimed it, but never earned it, for so much of the past decade.

It's an interesting read, and an interesting phenomenon that, Rawls notes, "is supported by a 150-organization coalition spearheaded by the NC-NAACP that includes everything from Occupy Raleigh to Planned Parenthood-NC to the NC Association of Educators."

Her point about why the voter suppression laws Republicans are now trying to pass are so important for the NC GOP radicals, is explained in this key passage...

This is an extremely gerrymandered state – one that is relatively evenly divided in terms of political party affiliation but leans blue at least since 2008. Even though a majority of votes were cast for Democrats in 2012, North Carolina’s state government is dominated by Tea Party-affiliated ideologues with none of the moderation or interest in compromise that previous Republican leaders – like former Governor Jim Martin – displayed when they held office. They have quickly mounted aggressive assaults on Medicaid, unemployment, public education, reproductive justice and voting rights. What was once a bastion of moderation and tolerance in the South is now outpacing other Southern states – having turned down federal aid for Medicaid expansion and unemployment. We’re not used to contending with this level of extremism – after all, this is the first time the rightwing has controlled both congressional houses and the governorship in 150 years.

It isn’t playing well with the public, either, which remains as moderate as ever — but is now contending with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Since April, tens of thousands of people from throughout the state have come to the NC legislative building to voice concerns about the far-right ALEC-dictated agenda of the people in charge. As of July 22, nearly 900 have been arrested in the course of entering the building to commit civil disobedience. This Monday, an impromptu sit-in is thwarted almost as soon as protesters take their seats – more than 70 are arrested and police lock the building doors on all sides.

Moral Monday protesters led by the NC-NAACP now enjoy a higher statewide approval rating than the General Assembly, which has bottomed out at less than 20 percent. Republicans in the state legislature have not even held on to the majority support of registered Republican residents. This explains the leadership’s interest in more and more voter restriction laws – and why they recently targeted college students. They will need to suppress the vote considerably to stay in power. Free and fair elections, a cornerstone of the democratic process, are a thing of the past, and district lines can’t be redrawn for nearly another decade.

These GOP tactics seem remarkably desperate, in truth. They also seem to be unsustainable and short-sighted. While they may (and, indeed, have) worked to a certain extent, the backlash against them will, eventually, be quite harsh one would think.

That, of course, is why it remains so important to not just fight for access to the ballot box, but for the transparency that citizens need to be able to oversee the tabulation of their own election results!

If Republicans like those in NC are willing to go to these extreme measures to keep their fellow citizens from even being able to cast a vote, what wouldn't they do to game election results if that was the only way they felt they'd be able to retain power?

God-forbid they actually, ya know, just decide to support legislation that is both popular and moral. Easier for the Republicans in these places, I guess, to try and game the system instead.

So, keep up the good work, and hell-raising, North Carolinians! And, yes, God bless you for that.

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