With a Republican super majority in the General Assembly, the religious left is fighting back
There’s a storm brewing in North Carolina and it might warrant a greater category than has yet been measured. But this isn’t a hurricane, it’s a social movement. A growing group of citizens has been gathering to protest the actions of state Republicans who have been enacting policies that benefit a small contingency of privileged individuals and place hardship on a much greater number of residents in the state.
“Moral Mondays“, it has been dubbed. Every Monday since April, thousands of people have descend upon the General Assembly and the numbers grow with every passing week. 600 people have so far been arrested, many of them faith leaders, for protesting nothing more than conservative policies in the state. Still, voices are being heard and the movement is growing.
At the heart of the issue is equality, and how organized civilization has dealt with it over many millennia. According to Reverend William Barber II, the man attributed to the instigation of the Moral Mondays movement, the very foundation of a true democracy and a wholesome society is the concept of equal protection under the law. And many North Carolinians aren’t getting the same deal that a small group of wealthy citizens are afforded.
Many scholars, activists, and everyday people have been getting involved, reacting to the efforts of the Republican super majority in the general assembly to push through legislation that effectively rolls back decades of civil rights progress.
In fact, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is being gutted and abused, with the assembly wanting to do away with early voting altogether, outlaw Sunday voting, and even make it more difficult for college students to vote. Draconian measures cloaked in “voter identification” schemes look to restrict voting rights and fix the game for the wealthy (and powerful) minority.
But Rev. Barber sees this crisis as an opportunity. He sees how the assembly’s efforts to approve tax cuts that benefit only 23 of the richest people in the state could (and with his effort, will) summon a civil rights movement. To him, it’s the inevitable coming of the Third Reconstruction.
The Civil War brought the first reconstruction, bringing African-Americans the right to vote. Backlash efforts retracted much of the progress, and the southern states returned, for the most part, to the lives they had known.
Until, of course, the Civil Rights movement, which was the second reconstruction, culminating in the 1960’s. Now, we see the “old” south reacting to the first black American president with more backlash, and attempts to return to pre-Civil Rights movement policies. The actions of the general assembly are reminiscent of the actions of the segregationists at the early part of the 20th century.
They have raised taxes on 900,000 working people by ending the earned income tax credit for those earning less than $19,190 a year. At the same time they gave 23 millionaires a tax cut after campaigning on lowering taxes on the working poor and middle class families. They are now pushing supply-side tax reform proposals, a widely discredited approach to tax policy.
But this isn’t just a “town hall” situation unique to North Carolina. It’s being watched closely by powerful, connected, wealthy individuals to see how it will play out. Because as goes North Carolina, so goes the nation. Will there be a roll-back of voter rights and services for the working poor and middle class families? Or is this the nascent, progressive materialization of the Third Reconstruction?
Check out the speech by Rev. Barber, it will move you: