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Wilmington Star News: Goolsby reveals contempt for constituents

Sen. Thom Goolsby’s hometown newspaper takes him to task this morning for referring to the peaceful demonstrators at the General Assembly as ‘morons’ and ‘clowns’ in a recent column he sent to newspapers across the state. The Wilmington Star News’ [1] editorial board writes:

‘So that’s how little Sen. ThoGoolsby [2]m Goolsby thinks of his constituents. Or maybe he doesn’t consider the part of the state population that opposes the General Assembly’s legislative agenda to be constituents.

But constituents they are, and they deserve better than to be referred to as loonies and “aged hippies,” or to be compared to a circus act, which is how a column the senator sent out describes the hundreds of protesters who showed up for what has become a weekly demonstration known as “Moral Monday.”

“Moron Monday” is how Goolsby, R-New Hanover, characterized the organized, peaceful protests started by the state NAACP and others who object to efforts in the General Assembly to cut unemployment benefits, kick many pregnant women off Medicaid, send tax dollars to charter and private schools with little accountability, and gut regulations that helped North Carolina gain a reputation as a leader of the New South. He’s getting a lot of flack for it. Deservedly so.

His column ran in at least one newspaper, but he sent it statewide. The StarNews has in the past published some of his columns, but because of its insulting tone chose not publish this one – until now (see below.) Our readers should see what we’re criticizing.

It’s one thing to ridicule one’s political opponents and quite another to belittle ordinary people who dare to speak out. Yes, some of the folks protesting at the Legislative Building are seasoned activists, but many are regular people who feel as though their voices are being muffled and their valid concerns ignored. We should expect more from a former Marine who attended The Citadel and who holds a law degree. What we got was a juvenile diatribe reminiscent of a schoolyard bully. Goolsby is more articulate than that, and generally puts on a friendlier public face. Frankly, we just don’t understand his reaction.

The senator obviously is exasperated by the protesters’ message and their methods, and he is within his rights to say so. Free speech runs both ways, even if Goolsby could have – should have – chosen his words more carefully. But the demonstrators likely would not be haunting Raleigh each Monday if they felt that lawmakers were willing to listen, at least, to those who disagree with them.

Goolsby, however, is not alone in his disdain for a significant part of the electorate. “Outsiders” is how Gov. Pat McCrory tried to characterize the group, although most of them come from hometowns right here in this state. The governor says he won’t “back down” to these residents who are making known their displeasure with the current state government.

What he – and the Honorables – should do is to sit down with them. Hear what they have to say. Do what your Democratic predecessors would not: Ask for their ideas, and invite them to be part of the process instead of treating them as though they don’t matter.

On the protesters’ side, understand that the majority voted these people in. If the voters feel that the Republicans now in control have gone too far, the party will pay the price eventually, at the polls. But seek a place at the table – demand it.

Our elected officials have an obligation to listen to the people, even those who oppose their ideas. They might have won the votes of the majority of their electorate, but they are supposed to represent the interests of all North Carolina residents.’

Click here to read Senator Goolsby’s original column [3].