by Brian Irving
The rounds of charges and counter-charges swirling around the Moral Monday demonstrations illustrate just how low political discourse in our state has fallen. It’s like children exchanging insults on a playground: “I know you are, but what am I.”
This farce is the inevitable result of a political system designed as a duopoly, with Democrats and Republicans taking turns being in charge, yet offering few differences between themselves.
Democrats are all for “democracy” – except when the don’t win. They seem to have forgotten that in a “democracy” the side that wins the majority gets to set the rules. That is what the Democrats did for many years.
Republican claims they are reducing government and cutting taxes are just as bogus. All they are doing is not growing government – as much – and not raising taxes – as much – as the other side would.
Freedom of speech only works if you respect the equal rights of those who disagree with you. Questioning the motives or morals of your opponents doesn’t contribute to civil dialogue, and may be itself immoral. Nor does calling your opponents morons, and dismissing them as “outsiders” add to the discussion.
The true outsiders in this sophomoric comedy are not the Moral Monday demonstrators or the Republican leaders born in other states. The true outsiders are the people of North Carolina.
Sadly, calling the other side names and demonizing what they do and believe has become standard practice for both the Democratic and Republican parties. At their best, they act like fans of a sports team. At their worst, which seems to be most of the time, they both behave like street gangs fighting over turf. Whatever the others side proposes, they oppose, even though they may have agreed with that idea a year ago.
This entire situation is just a game, deliberately designed to distract people from the fact that neither the side is really interested in solving any problems. The object of the game is not to resolve issues, but to create them by catering to people’s basest instincts – fear, envy and greed – in order to gain and maintain political power.
Our state has some serious problems, including a stagnant economy, high unemployment, unfair taxation, and burdensome regulations. We need leaders who’ll listen to one another to resolves these issues like adults, not like children playing a game.
For those of you who may not pay attention to the doings in Raleigh, here is some background For the past two months, demonstrators have gathered at the N.C. Legislative Building each Monday to lodge their opposition to the policies pursued by the legislature’s Republican majority.
As part of their demonstration, they have blocked the entrance to the legislative chamber, and more than 600 people have been arrested.
The crowd this week was significant, the largest to date. Read more in the News & Observer.
The legislative session is coming to a close, but HB 794 Voter Freedom Act is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee. This bill was sponsored by the Free the Vote Coalition, an alliance of groups spanning the political spectrum that includes the Libertarian Party of North Carolina.
Here is a message from Jordon Greene, President and Founder of Free the Vote NC:
The legislative session is coming to a close, but HB 794 Voter Freedom Act is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.
The original bill would have dramatically lowered our state’s high ballot access barriers. We agreed with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Saine, when he urged us to support transforming the bill into a study bill in order to get it passed. And it did pass the House with an overwhelming 109-5 vote.
That was a month ago. Since then, both houses have been busy working on various budget and tax reform bills. The bill has been left dormant in the Senate Rules Committee.
Time is running out. The legislature may adjourn by the end of June. We need to take action now if we want real ballot access reform to begin.
Call your state Senator as well and ask them to let Sen. Apodaca know they support this legislation. You can look up your state Senatorhere.
HB 794 is a study bill. It would make no change in the law.
But it would authorize the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee to study amending the definition of political party, and the nomination process, amending the requirements for unaffiliated and write-in candidates, allowing for nomination by convention by smaller parties, and providing that smaller parties electing to have primaries will have the results determined by plurality.
These are all the points covered in the original bill.
If the bill is not passed by the Senate, we will essentially be back to square one. We’ll have to begin the process again in January 2014, during the short session when the legislature is supposed to focus solely on budget issues. And even if this study bill is passed, the results of the study will not be ready for the 2014 election.
Making a direct telephone call is the best way to have your voice heard.
Ask to speak to the Senator; but if that is not possible, leave a message with the secretary or legislative assistant, and be sure to mention you are a constituent (if appropriate) and that you support the Free the Vote Coalition.
It would not hurt to follow up your call with a personal e-mail message, something you write yourself. You can use one or two of the following points for your call and in your e-mail:
- HB 794 is a bipartisan bill that has wide support. Representatives Jason Saine (R), Paul Luebke (D), David Lewis (R), and Rodney Moore (D) were the primary sponsors; Representatives Alma Adams (D), John Bell (R), Mark Brody, (R), Becky Carney (D), Beverly Earle (D), Pricey Harrison (D), Jonathan Jordan (R), and Michael Speciale (R).
- In addition, HB 794 has the support of the Free the Vote Coalition, an alliance of public policy groups and political parties from across the political spectrum. Members include the Libertarian and Green parties, as well as the John Locke Foundation and Democracy NC, and other groups representing diverse political opinions.
- When political parties, public policy groups and individuals with such divergent views unite in any cause, it clearly attests to the fact that ballot access reform is not a partisan or special-interest group issue, but a question of fundamental freedom that transcends political differences.
- North Carolina has the second most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation. NC law imposes an excessive and unreasonable requirement on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates that’s far and above the standard prevalent in most other states.
- 33 states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for a new political party to obtain ballot access; 22 of these states require less than 5,000 signatures or some other simpler means for a party to be recognized by the state.
- 36 states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for independent statewide candidates to obtain access to the ballot; 29 of this group require 5,000 or less, or some other simpler means (such as paying a filing fee) for an independent candidate to be listed on the ballot.
Remind Sen. Apodaca that he’s been a champion of ballot access reform.
In 1988, he was the leader of a small group of Republicans (and one Democrat) who proposed an amendment to a ballot access reform bill to lower the number of signatures required to get on the ballot to one-half of one percent. That amendment was defeated by the then Democratic majority.
We need to take action now to keep the Voter Freedom Act alive.
A viable democratic process and fundamental freedom requires that ballot access laws encourage and promote – not limit – the individual’s right to self-government by securing their right to free choice at the ballot box.
Call (and e-mail) Sen. Apodaca and your state Senator today.
Liberty in action was the theme and focus of the Libertarian Party annual state convention held in Flat Rock over the weekend.
J.J. Summerell, who was reelected state chair, noted that the 50 percent increase in party membership in 2012 can be attributed to the growing dissatisfaction of voters with the Republican and Democratic parties. “A healthy part of that growth can also be attributed to youth groups such as Students for Liberty, which are spreading like wildfire on college campuses,” he added.
That activism was evident at the convention. During the Saturday session, there were a series of seminars and discussion groups on various topics, including fund raising, candidate recruitment and training, team building, and communicating libertarian ideas.
Carla Howell, Libertarian Party executive director, conducted a training session on the LP’s new training initiative “Who’s Driving.” The game is designed to teach Libertarian candidates, activists and spokespersons in the most fundamental skill needed to be effective communicators: controlling the agenda.
During his state of the party address, Summerell talked about the developing 2020 political plan. “The goal is simple: to win one seat in the state Senate and four seats in the state House by 2020, making statewide races viable for the LPNC in 2020 and beyond,” he said.
In the business portion of the convention, in addition to re-electing Summerell, John Caveny was re-elected treasurer. New officers elected were Alex Vuchnich of Charlotte, vice chair and Barbara Howe of Oxford, recording secretary.
The convention also elected eight at-large members of the executive committee. They are: Jon Byers, Arden; Britton Correll, Waxhaw; Ginny Godfrey, Morganton; Kevin Innes, Morganton; Brian Irving, Cary; Jason Melehani, Durham; Bjørn Pedersen, Chapel Hill, and; Erik Raudsep, Durham.
Hendersonville News Times – NC Libertarians converge in Flat Rock
News & Observer (Raleigh) – Under the Dome: NC Libertarians set their goals