Monday, July 8, 2013

Moral Monday protests are futile efforts

The protesters who come to the Legislative Building in Raleigh every Monday have taken to calling these excursions "Moral Mondays." The name prompted one upset legislator to suggest "Moronic Mondays" instead.

A better moniker might be "Futile Fulminations." Despite the size of the crowds, estimated at as many as 100,000, and the willingness to be arrested, just as the civil rights protesters of 50 years ago were willing to go to jail for their principles, these protests have little chance of succeeding. The complaints of the protesters are wide-ranging, from reductions in education spending and stagnant teacher pay to reductions in mental health funding to taxation changes that will benefit the wealthy and hurt the poor to restrictions on abortion. These are genuine issues, any one of which can spark heartfelt debate.

But what the protesters are ignoring is that the Republican Party, out of power for most of the past 120 years, is determined to have its way with state policy, and it has nothing to fear from the populace. Republicans won control of the General Assembly in the 2010 elections, garnering the right to draw redistricting maps, which they did with a vengeance. The result is that safe Republican districts dominate the state House and Senate. No matter how much the protesters complain, argue or get arrested, there is virtually no incentive for any of the Republican legislators to listen to them. Their electoral districts contain  strong majorities of GOP voters who will vote for someone with an "R" after the name no matter what goes down in Raleigh. Incumbent Republicans have nothing to fear from the Moral Monday protesters.

The people of North Carolina, unfortunately, have much to fear about the Republican legislative majority, which is threatening the fragile public education system, the once-prestigious university system, the health care of state residents and even the ability of citizens to cast votes.

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