The fog of war in North Carolina

With certainty, North Carolina is in a battle. Not with an occupying force from another country but from within. And at present, “within” is winning. Yesterday was a remarkable day both in world affairs and finances. After citizens of the United Kingdom decided to detach themselves from the European Union (Brexit), reality began to set in. Where objectivity and intelligence took a backseat to ignorance. And while there are legitimate concerns for “independence”, a vote to secede was the end result. In the late 1980’s, I spent two weeks in England. Even then the melting pot from different countries was amazing, especially in London. The constant passing of people from different nationalities on the sidewalk was unlike anything I had ever seen, even in New York City. But on Friday, the voters spoke. They also showed an ongoing phenomena more closely associated with third world countries. Where dictatorships rule, clean water is intermittent and little or no education is prevalent. As exit polling from yesterday’s vote continues, some things have come to light. Middle-aged and millennials were less inclined to leave the EU while less educated, older whites from rural areas voted in favor. And although the margin (51.9% versus 48.1%) was slim, a decision was cast. But it was the people and their voices after the fact that now raise concerns. Some voters were unequivocal in their belief that separation would never occur. Others and legitimately, were tired of carrying the load for smaller member countries and their more socialistic ways. Terrorism, illegal immigration, jobs and the hinderance of economic gains were also of importance.

Decisions have consequences and havoc can follow. Some voters in the UK were reported to have been googling “what is Brexit or, what is the European Union?” after casting their votes. Many were unaware that cross country (EU membership) intelligence sharing might be subdued if not totally eliminated, especially in regard to terrorism. Others cast votes solely on a politician’s promise to infuse more money into the healthcare system. A promise that never materialized. Then there were the jobs votes whereby illegal immigrants have “stolen” employment opportunities while thwarting wage growth. As Katy Kay with the BBC pointed out, there was little mention nor concern that a number of those jobs have been replaced by mechanization including robots. In North Carolina and across the United States, 401-Ks and IRAs were upended. Political affiliations of investors and savers was inconsequential. On Fox News, a banner ran across the screen stating that the United Kingdom had voted not to leave the European Union, but the United Nations.

At 6:00 AM this morning, Capitol Broadcasting Company in Raleigh, North Carolina posted one of the most damning editorials in the history of North Carolina politics. While the piece delivers harsh criticism of Republicans in the North Carolina State Legislature, the scope has been placed squarely between the eyes of North Carolina voters. “Lack of accountability at the ballot box allows ideology to run amok” has driven head on into the current state of political affairs. Where gerrymandered districts and unchallenged Republican incumbents have turned a once beautiful State into a vast and uncontrolled wildfire. It’s not enough that Republicans have lied about tax cuts or instituted control over local governments but page after page of legislation have been concerted efforts (and in many cases enacted) to appeal to an underbelly. As CBC's editorial makes note;

If there is legislation that should go to the Committee on Redundancy Committee to expire, it is the “Pledge to Uphold the Bill of Rights” resolution before the state House of Representatives. While some lawmakers may have forgotten – they’d already made that pledge when they took the oath of office, solemnly swearing to “support the Constitution of the United States.” In reality, the resolution -- sponsored by Reps. Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, along with co-sponsors Michael Speciale, R-Craven, Mark Brody, R-Union and Carl Ford, R-Rowan – is about imposing their view of “state’s rights.”

it is increasingly clear that intent and buffoonery are one and the same.

“Obama is a communist”, “Clinton is a liar”, “Jim Goodman is a liberal” and Democrats or even moderates in the State of North Carolina are “libtards." Urban areas of our state are not without fault regarding racism, bigotry, xenophobia, fringe ideology, insult hurling and adulation for guns and the NRA. But rural North Carolina and its henchmen and women are now firmly in control. Whether it’s in the comment sections of online news sources or through other forms of social media (primarily located or emanating from outside of urban areas), the rurals and their voices are speaking loudly while their counterparts cheer. In the United States, the same holds true.

The fringe, less educated, conspiracy theorists (including those who find facts to be abhorrent) have become the enemies of education, intelligence, objectivity and progress. And in North Carolina, they ferment in locations once deemed as being important to our overall growth. Through ignorance, apathy and hate, the tide has turned. North Carolina has a problem.



This is one of the reasons

I feel my gorge begin to rise when I read (or hear) the Wise Folks say the Democratic Party needs to "reach out" to rural conservative voters. Fuck that. We do need to reach out better in rural areas, but not to the asshats who would/did vote for Amendment 1 or any other hateful policy or person.

I totally agree.

I've spent a considerable amount of time in rural North Carolina. Increasingly, it has become a place I try to avoid. If people (including those I know) have no interest in doing whatever it takes to better themselves, they get what they deserve. Unfortunately, the entire state has ended up getting it too. They can stew in their ignorance, their religion, bullets and paranoia. I could give a damn.

A Washington Post commenter regarding Brexit

"Not to sound "elitist" (that's today's "catch word," isn't it?), but catastrophe always results when uneducated, racist rednecks out in the sticks are given an "opportunity" to chart a nation's course.

Bottom line, these grinning, cheering imbeciles have yet to realize that by permitting themselves to be so thoroughly conned by Johnson, etc., they have now cut their own throats, so to speak. Their insane, uninformed, and unbelievably ignorant decision to "Leave" will soon fragment and destroy the "United Kingdom" (not to mention their childrens' futures), thereby permanently consigning Britain (and themselves and their descendants) to future irrelevance. Further, they have also begun an inexorable process which will certainly result in the demise of the European Union (which, while not being perfect, has managed to preserve relative peace in Europe for the past 70 years).

So, you "angry" Americans, VOTE TRUMP! ... (And Commit National Suicide!)"

Actually, it won't even be "Britain" any more,

it will just be England, and maybe Wales. With an occasional holiday to the Virgin Islands where they can get drunk and sing, "Rule, Britannia!" without being laughed at.

I take issue with the damning

I take issue with the damning of rural NC. It is insulting and shortsighted. We in rural NC are not monolithic though the gerrymandering that has taken place gives that appearance. There are plenty of moderate and progressive, and "reasoned" conservative viewpoints here. They are just watered down through political trickery. When you dismiss, and disrespect our rural areas in such a wholesale manner you are being very counterproductive. In statewide races how important do you consider the rural votes cast in our favor? It could well be the difference between winning and losing a tight race.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Point taken

As I tried to signal in my comment above, it's not the Dems or moderates or (somewhat) conservative folks I'm dismissing, it's the haters. The anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, segregation-supporting types. It seems like the only way to connect with them is by becoming more like them, and I just can't do that.

I didn't take offense to your

I didn't take offense to your comment. You were blunt but clear as to who your were referring to.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Please provide a needle point, specific example

of "progressive, and "reasoned" conservative viewpoints" that are "watered down through political trickery" with emphasis on explaining "political trickery?" After that, maybe we can address the wholesale dismissing, and disrespecting as well as "being very counterproductive."

You may want to re-read both the post and the comments beforehand while overlooking things that aren't actually there.

I"ll be happy to explain

I"ll be happy to explain political trickery. Gerrymandering is the most obvious but another would be General Assembly overreach by passing location specific laws for counties and municipalities. A couple of good examples would be requiring partisan school board and commissioner elections in Lee County and requiring a unanimous vote from County Commissioners in select counties in specific circumstances.

Examples of wholesale dismissing and disrespecting would be the following.
"rural North Carolina and its henchmen"
"the rurals and their voices"
"uneducated, racist rednecks out in the sticks"
"rural North Carolina. Increasingly, it has become a place I try to avoid. If people (including those I know) have no interest in doing whatever it takes to better themselves, they get what they deserve."
"They can stew in their ignorance, their religion, bullets and paranoia. I could give a damn,"

Some of our best leaders have come from rural backgrounds. I'm thinking about men and women like Jim Hunt, Terry Sanford, Bob Etheridge and Elaine Marshall.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Thanks for your response

Here's my take.

Gerrymandering is sometimes confused with manipulation and often described as one and the same. Whether gerrymandering is "trickery" is highly subjective. Gerrymandering is one of the most potent tools incumbent politicians have and has been used at least since the early 1800's.

The word "overreach" is also highly subjective. In the cases you note; "requiring partisan school board and commissioner elections in Lee County and requiring a unanimous vote from County Commissioners in select counties in specific circumstances"; overreach is a godsend for some while being detrimental to others.

Gerrymandering and overreach are not "trickery." People (voters) both extend and relinquish their power to those they elect. In turn, those elected (especially incumbents) extend their powers in any way they see fit (including both challenging and attempting to usurp already established law.) "Gerrymandering" and "overreach" are two words that can either incite disgust or fortify a belief; especially in the eyes of voters who (along with their elected politicians) want to remain in power.

The powers (bestowed) of gerrymandering and overrreach are blessed through votes (whether Democrat or Republican.) Power is immeasurably the most important thing a politician wants. Gerrymandering is a tool, overreach is a formed opinion.

"Trickery" is conniving in what I gather to be your issue. For me, trickery is the work of magicians. Conniving only occurs in politics when people are apathetic and or ignorant in understanding power and human nature (especially with politicians.) Politicians don't exact trickery but on occasion are more than happy and willing to connive.

In regard to;

"rural North Carolina and its henchmen"
"the rurals and their voices"
"uneducated, racist rednecks out in the sticks"
"rural North Carolina. Increasingly, it has become a place I try to avoid. If people (including those I know) have no interest in doing whatever it takes to better themselves, they get what they deserve."
"They can stew in their ignorance, their religion, bullets and paranoia. I could give a damn,"

opinions are nothing more than indictments. I stand by mine. Regarding "uneducated, racist rednecks out in the sticks", I would suggest you take that "deflamation" up with the Washington Post.

Arguing semantics only serves

Arguing semantics only serves to deflect from my objections. Your indictment of rural North Carolina is counterproductive. You are alienating your allies in your blind anger. It is also interesting to note that our state is and has been for several years less than 50% rural. It seems to me that many of the most extreme members of the General Assembly come from the triangle, Charlotte or triad metro areas. Remember those metro areas stretch far beyond Wake, Durham, Orange, Guilford or Mecklenburg counties.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

The usefulness of

this conversation has run its course. I look forward to a lengthy post on your behalf.

It truly has.

Especially when people hide behind the "moderate Democrat" facade. While readers may take issue with some of what I said, they may also find that you are a perfect example of what I was talking about. The simple comment section for your views fits you well.

By the way,

do you make it a habit of carrying a chip on your shoulders everytime someone says something you disagree with? You have an outstanding ability to carry dialogue to a first grade level. There's your food for thought.

I'm sorry we have been unable

I'm sorry we have been unable to come to an amicable conclusion to our discussion, but I hold no ill will. Take care.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

More importantly,

this post doesn't apply to every living soul in rural NC. Those that it does apply to more than likely don't know what BLUENC is much less read it.

When you offer a negative

When you offer a negative stereotype of an entire segment of society it is kind of hard to appreciate any implied caveats. We pretty much all take offense.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

I'm going to tweak this comment.

Maybe you should write a counter argument post. And while I understand your belief that I'm blanket stereotyping, put that aside for a moment. Explain why residents in rural counties specifically, continue to elect the likes of Virginia Foxx or Walter Jones on a national level, or the likes of Pat McElrath on a statewide level. Explain why people in rural counties specifically, allow rogue incumbent Republicans to go completely unopposed come election time. I understand that some of these people are in "completely safe zones" with little chance of defeat. But why are they not being challenged in any form?

If "there are plenty of moderate and progressive, and "reasoned" conservative viewpoints here", explain why the appearance of laziness or concern for burning precious shoe leather or speaking out, makes an argument to the contrary.

Is Mike Stone still

Is Mike Stone still representing the 51st? No he isn't. He got beat because moderates and reasoned conservatives spoke out, worked hard, and offered a viable candidate. Defeating the right wing crazies isn't an easy feat. It isn't going to happen overnight.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Brad Salmon (D)

is surely a much better candidate. That being said, what do real "moderates" and "reasoned conservatives" think about this besides the fact it was a complete waste of time and money at the expense of NC taxpayers?

I also see he's pretty much in lock step with Republican appropriations. With the exception of Chatlee Boat & Marine, I'm not convinced the 51st district is a formidable power.

Salmon is a solid

Salmon is a solid representative in a house overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Recognizing the changes

I'm from a rural area in northwest North Carolina. I moved away after finishing college to find work and have lived in the Triad and Triangle areas since around 1990.

With that in mind, I've seen stark changes to my home town during that period that seem to be echoed in other rural areas of the state.

The residents of my home town have changed since the 1980s. When I was growing up and going to school there, you saw a mix of poor, working class and middle class people that were striving for something better. If you got through high school, you could get a decent job at one of the area's several factories (textiles, furniture, electronics, automotive parts) or in small retail or other locally owned businesses that were all around the county.

As the factory jobs collapsed, everything went with it. Younger people with some education - even at a high school level - started drifting to more populated areas in search of work. When the factories closed, that took many small businesses with them.

As the county has changed economically, they've tried to concentrate on more seasonal businesses that appeal to tourists. Now, rather than a healthy mix of locally owned retail stores, restaurants and such, you have a Walmart, a Lowes hardware, and small businesses that cater to the out of towners.

Driving through downtown is pretty sad. There were some clothing stores there that had been in business for fifty or sixty years that closed and were replaced by antique shops or little stores selling tourist knick-knacks. Walmart's really the only place left to buy the basics - many people travel to a nearby county with more stores if they want some decent clothes.

The county hospital, in the 80s, was pretty busy. Now, three of its four floors are empty and it only provides very basic services. If you have to get surgery or most any type of treatment from a specialist, you have to drive to another county.

The population, which used to be a broad mix of ages and education levels, consists of old-time locals who are retired or were laid off from the factories and younger people with a minimum of education. The real estate market is still going, with retirees from the Triangle and Triad or out of state settling there or getting summer homes.

The locals that vote and get involved in politics are, for the most part, very conservative and religious. The diversity that used to be there is gone - the residents have been distilled down to the most extreme elements.

At one time, I thought about going back there after my retirement. However, as an out gay man, I would never consider it now. After my parents are gone, there's absolutely nothing left there for me.

Many of the people I grew up with there are living in the Triad, Triangle, Charlotte or out of state. Most are liberal and support the Democratic party.

What to do about those "left behind" still living in my home town?

I haven't the foggiest.

They're full of so much hate and vinegar, I doubt anyone can get any common sense to talk hold there. It will take decades of Democrats paying attention to the economy in that area to build back any sense of trust.

I could see the shift happening before the Republicans took power in Raleigh. The Democratic party just wasn't offering any solutions to that area to replace the factories and jobs that were bleeding away because of neo-liberal economics. Solve that problem and you might get them back in two or three decades.