In case you missed it over the weekend, Professor Gene Nichol’s essay in Raleigh’s News & Observer (“Making the case that lawmakers are destroying North Carolina”) is an absolute “must read.” In it, Nichol provides a scathing 10-point indictment of the performance of state leaders in recent years. Here’s #1-5:
“When I read the other day that lawmakers are now telling schools how to teach math, I remembered Lily Tomlin’s quip: “No matter how cynical I get, it’s impossible to keep up.” We’ve gotten used to a lot of insanity during this campaign to destroy the meaning of North Carolina.
I know that sounds overblown. Courts sometimes demand a “bill of particulars” to clarify such vague assertions, a detailed itemization of claims made against one’s adversary. In the spirit of clarity and particularization, here’s mine.
The governor and General Assembly have:
1. Tragically refused to expand Medicaid. Merely to show disdain for President Obama, they’ve denied health care to a half million poor Tar Heels though the federal government would pay almost all the fare. Hospitals have closed, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, over $30 billion in federal funds are surrendered and a thousand or more of us die each year as a result of one of the most cruel and indefensible decisions in N.C. history.
2. Enacted the most aggressive voter suppression law in a half century. The central purpose of North Carolina’s monster voting law – imposing a biased ID requirement, limiting early voting and eliminating same-day registration, out of precinct voting and early first-time registration – is to make it harder to cast the franchise. It is foundationally un-American.
3. Launched an internationally derided war on LGBT people. Beginning with Amendment One, followed by a discrimination-abetting religious exemption law, the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of state dollars to pursue already-concluded litigation and, most famously, the passage of House Bill 2, Republicans have inflicted enduring wounds on North Carolina merely to prove they despise the LGBT community.
4. Moved systematically and pervasively to dismantle the public schools. Through teacher and teaching assistant layoffs, reductions in pre-K programs, massive budget cuts, the expansion of charters, the introduction of vouchers, the (attempted) elimination of tenure, the closing of a celebrated teaching fellows program, the creation of a destructive A-F school grading system and, now, the adoption of achievement school districts, the General Assembly has worked to lay waste to public education.
5. Initiated the nation’s most appalling crusade against poor people. Despite burgeoning poverty and hunger rates, enacted the sharpest cut to unemployment compensation in history, ended the earned income tax credit, drastically cut food-stamp eligibility, abolished legal aid appropriations, sharply reduced child care subsidies and greatly increased regressive sales taxes – all to cut taxes for the wealthy. As if it’s no longer thought unworthy to steal from the poor.