Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Not Pleased to be Number One

North Carolina has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in outside money influencing our elections this year.  More than 90% of political advertisements and phone calls were funded by "outside" money, not by citizens living here.  Yesterday was our primary and yes, I voted as I always do.  I was given an extensive information sheet that the 2016 elections will require voter identification and asked to sign a sheet as to whether or not I actually had "valid" identification.  I was not asked to show any form of ID.  (Our recently passed Voter ID laws are processing through the court systems.  They are far more limiting that those in other states.)

Encouraged by the recent rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), money from undisclosed citizens has poured into NC this year.  Koch brothers and the Republican States Leadership Committe, among other conservative groups, poured more than a million dollars into advertising aimed at a single target; unseating an incumbent on our State Supreme Court.  Keep in mind that elections for Supreme Court Justices in our states are NON-PARTISAN.

The scene for making our Court more partisan was set by our newly bought elected governor.  More than a decade ago, the General Assembly created a fund for campaign financing for candidates for the State Supreme Court.  This funding was accepted by the vast majority of candidates and helped to diversify our Court.  One of the Governor Pat McCrory's first official acts was to zero out the funding.

It comes as no surprise that huge amounts of outside money are pouring into the State to defeat our incumbent US Senator Kay Hagan.  And that will only increase now that she handily won the primary.  It will be more vindictive and vicious for the general election in the fall.  NC is considered on of the "vulnerable" states in which the Republican Party might gain a Senate seat.  Her performance is not an issue; her political party is the driving force.  And how sad that is.

One of my favorite political cartoonists who is always right on the money

 So why target North Carolina?  The answer for 2014 is relatively simple.  One party dominates the General Assembly (made up of State Senators and Representatives) and the governor is a member of the same party.  Much of the legislation passed by this General Assembly is being appealed through the court system.  What better way to block and delay appeals than by filling the Supreme Court with ultra-conservatives with agendas far beyond justice?

As for the Senate race, we are a Red state with a Blue Senator, and a female one at that.  The republican primary winner is Thom Tillis, the current Speaker of the NC House of Representatives.  He led the General Assembly to the hard right views of government.  As for those of us who dare oppose his agenda?  His comment is "What I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers."  He has vowed to appoint only anti-abortion judges.  In a statement to a group of Republicans in 2011, Thom Tillis said that Republicans must "divide and conquer the poor."  He is very proud of stopping the Medicaid expansion in NC, leaving more than half a million NC citizens without health care.  He insists they "don't deserve it."

Many unhappy voters decided to vote blindly against any incumbent in 2010 without regards to performance.  (Akin to throwing out the baby with the bath water.)  And as is always the case, voting districts were redrawn following the census.  For NC this meant they were redrawn to favor the party in power.  And the lines are strange indeed.  Liberal Asheville was moved into a more conservative district to lessen their impact.  Gerrymandering is always common after the census, but this redistricting was worse than usual.

Why am I ranting so once again?  Because I am FURIOUS that more voters from my state don't bother to find out where candidates stand on the issues.  I am FURIOUS that North Carolina was once known as a progressive moderate state and is now extremely conservative.  I love North Carolina but truth be told?  I would not have returned to retire here had I foreseen the political climate we are now facing.

I grew up here and came back here for my retirement years.  I love North Carolina and I want my state back.


robin andrea said...

We are watching the unraveling of our once beautiful democracy. We are watching the influence of money and power change everything. It is incredibly disheartening. I hope you get your state back, if it is at all possible.

Mary Lee said...

I agree. Tillis is already done so much damage to our state working from Raleigh. I shudder to think about what he could do from Washington. If the Koch Bros. succeed in tilting the Senate, the consequences will be disastrous.

I worked at our precinct yesterday and we also asked about proper ID to prepare voters for the 2016 election. I don't know if it's statewide or not, but we were told that people who completed those blue forms about not having an acceptable picture ID will be contracted by the Board of Elections to help them secure a proper ID.

It is the middle-of-the road citizens who aren't voting. They are the only ones who can turn the tide on what is happening here, but they seem to have already tuned out.

KB Bear said...

I cannot be as eloquent as you are but I couldn't agree more whole-heartedly. The recent Supreme Court decision infuriated me, and you are see the direct effects. It's awful.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I can't get over how much outside money is spent in NC to defeat elected officials. Our mail boxes are full each day with negative ads.

Rose said...

If you plan to move, don't move to Illinois! I was born and raised here, but the political maneuverings in our state have to be the worst in the nation. The Republican candidate for governor more or less "bought" his candidacy. When I vote for governor this fall, my choice is going to be not who I think will do a good job, but who is the lesser of two evils.

I haven't visited here in a long time--good to see the Golden Girls again on your last post!

Tara Crowley said...

completely disheartening. sadly, this kind of thing is going to turn off voters who will say "screw it all, I'm not voting." Just when we need them most. A sorry state of affairs.

troutbirder said...

How sad. Fortunately, our Governor Dayton and both houses of the legislature have rejected all proposals to complicate and restrict voting (except for convicted felons). We remain loyal to our old fashioned cliché... Minnesota Nice...:)Well the majority anyways.

troutbirder said...

How sad. Fortunately, our Governor Dayton and both houses of the legislature have rejected all proposals to complicate and restrict voting (except for convicted felons). We remain loyal to our old fashioned cliché... Minnesota Nice...:)Well the majority anyways.

Janie said...

What's happening in our political system is sad, indeed. I hate seeing all the money freely flowing in elections. I hope concerned citizens like you can turn the tide in NC.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Mary Lee - I was very disappointed in the voter turnout. I don't think people understand the importance of off-year voting.

Rose - Nice to hear from you. No, I don't plan to move. I just hope to change things here.

The Bug said...


Vicki Lane said...

I don't know whether to scream or to cry... thank you for saying this.