TRESSIE MCMILLAM COTTOM: CITIZENS NO MORE: I grew up choosing where and how I work because Roe v. Wade gave me many of the same basic rights of personhood as men, for example. Millions of women have, to different degrees, been able to do the same. With Roe v. Wade toppled, we do not have the same rights in all labor markets. In a global market, an empowered worker is one who can migrate. With Dobbs, women cannot assume that we can safely work in Idaho the same way that we can in Oregon or Washington. I cannot negotiate wages or time off with an employer with the same risk profile as those who cannot become pregnant. An employer who offers lower pay in a state with abortion care indirectly benefits from women’s inability to take our labor on the open market across the nation. Thanks to a rogue court, women’s lives are now more determined by the accidents of our birth than they were a week ago. By the same token, if a woman wants to migrate from a Gilead state to an abortion-friendly one, she's going to have to compete with many other women seeking to do the same, like some warped game of musical chairs. Until I read this editorial, I had not considered this economic angle. Which is another reason why elevating women's voices is so important.
SARAH PRESTON: ELECTING PROGRESSIVE WOMEN IN 2022 IS VITAL IN NC: Make no mistake, North Carolina could easily go the way of Texas or Mississippi if we don’t support candidates in the 2022 election who understand that abortion is healthcare, reproductive freedom is fundamental, and that women, who would be most impacted by these decisions, should have a seat at the table. Extreme anti-abortion Republicans in the legislature have passed legislation to restrict abortion access in all but one legislative session since taking power in 2011. North Carolina already has a long list of hoops patients must jump through just to access this care. Republicans have demonstrated what will happen if they regain the ability in November to override the governor’s veto. We know abortion opponents will not stop until abortion, this basic healthcare that 25% of women will access in their lifetime, is banned in N.C. and across the country. Elections have consequences. The 2016 election resulted in the current makeup of the Supreme Court, which overturned 50 years of precedent. But we have an opportunity in 2022 to launch a full-throated defense of reproductive healthcare at the ballot box. The results of this election will determine whether abortion remains legal in North Carolina and accessible to women across the Southeast. For many of us, our health, our lives, and our autonomy absolutely depend on the 2022 election results. As support for abortion reaches an all-time high, every one of us needs to get in this fight, volunteer, support, contribute and help elect the progressive women running in 2022. There have been a lot of important election cycles in our state over the years, but I can't remember any more important than this one. I know it seems like we always say that, and dealing with this every two years (make that every year for me, being so involved in municipal government) is beyond exhausting. But we have to find the strength to preserve abortion access in North Carolina, by safeguarding the Governor's Veto power.
THE REPUBLICANS' BUDGET BOILS DOWN TO ONE WORD: NEGLECT: Legislators have been able to concoct state Constitutional amendments and move them onto the ballot before voters in mere days. Nearly a decade of denial and refusal to act when Medicaid expansion is truly a life-and-death matter -- doesn’t call for more study but action. A budget that doesn’t include Medicaid expansion is a budget of neglect. And, what of keeping the Constitution’s promise – a right -- to provide every child, regardless of where they live, access to a quality education. The budget does provide some more money for education – but for those kids who go to private schools. It boosts funding for private school vouchers by $56 million to $150.5 million next year while loosening the financial requirements. This current school year, taxpayers spent $79.4 million. The legislature ignores a court order calling on the state to provide funding for a comprehensive remedial plan worked out by the plaintiffs and defendants in the Leandro case that would boost teacher training, reduce class size, provide more classroom resources as well as other basic education needs now lacking in many public schools. The legislature’s refusal to act has kept this case spinning in the state’s courts for about a quarter-century. There’s yet another hearing on the matter set before the state’s Supreme Court in August. The legislature needs to do what’s right for ALL the children of the state and get off of the legal treadmill and commit to obey the court order and fully fund providing every child a quality education. Legislative leaders can obfuscate and talk all they want about what is in their budget plan. But it is all overshadowed by the remarkable neglect of the needs of North Carolina’s people. That $100 million they're giving away to private schools is desperately needed in our public school classrooms. Shame on them.
AMERICAN FREEDOM WILL BE ON THE LINE THIS NOVEMBER: Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that Americans no longer have a constitutional right to control their own reproduction is a disaster of monumental proportions. Never before in U.S. history has the nation’s high court taken away such a well-established and long exercised fundamental right. By returning the physical and emotional health and well-being of millions of Americans to the frequently ill-informed whims and prejudices of politicians – most of them old, well-off white men who will be unaffected directly by the ruling – the Court has grievously harmed the cause of human rights and ushered in a new and dark era of repression. Across the globe, autocrats and religious fundamentalists are smiling at the notion that the world’s greatest democracy has retreated from its longstanding embrace of equality and individual freedom. As UNC law professor and constitutional scholar Gene Nichol observed in a powerful essay: “The U.S. Supreme Court has informed the nation and the world that the American constitutional ideal of liberty protects guns but not a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. A huge majority of us don’t believe that. These right-wing statists have declared that doesn’t matter. They’ll force it on us anyway. Their preferences prevail. Human rights and democracy be damned.” If there is even a hint of a silver lining in the Court’s reprehensible act, it is the new and unmistakable clarity it brings to the national political debate. After Dobbs v. Jackson (a ruling that will long reside in infamy alongside the Dred Scott, Korematsu and Bowers v. Hardwick decisions), Americans who believe in freedom and human rights can no longer – at least for the time being – take it as a given that the Constitution will protect us. For the foreseeable future, the only safeguard for our rights lies in organizing and advocating, as well as electing leaders who will do that job. We have taken way too many things for granted, and that includes our collective revulsion to tyranny. A solid third of our citizenry is ready to embrace (with open arms) a tyrant, as long as he's *their* tyrant. Their inability to grasp the reality that tyrants only serve themselves is frustrating, in a PT Barnum fashion. But not as frustrating as trying to unite the other two thirds of us to oppose tyranny. But if all we can get is slightly more than half, that will have to do.
WHEN HIS COUNTRY NEEDED HIM, COWARDLY MARK MEADOWS LET JAN 6 HAPPEN: They knew. Donald Trump. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows. His closest advisers in the White House. They knew about what could happen on Jan. 6. About how there was a real potential for violence if Proud Boys and Oath Keepers marched on the U.S. Capitol like Trump had asked them to. In an explosive and courageous appearance, the top aide to the president’s chief of staff explained in breathtaking detail how Trump and his enablers, including North Carolina’s very own Meadows, allowed an insurrection to occur. “It was un-American,” Hutchinson testified. “We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.” The House committee had previously said that it would not hold any more hearings until July, after they’d taken time to review new evidence. Tuesday’s hearing — the committee’s sixth so far — was announced at the last minute and largely shrouded in secrecy. Media reports indicated that the urgency was in part due to legitimate concerns about Hutchinson’s physical security. That morning, Meadows was told that the crowd attending Trump’s rally had guns, knives, oversized sticks, bear spray and spears fastened onto the end of flagpoles. Meadows, sitting on a couch in his office, didn’t look up from his phone. Later that day, as it became increasingly likely that the mob would breach the Capitol’s entrance, Hutchinson tried to get her boss’s attention. Again, with chaos unfolding around him, Meadows didn’t look up from his phone. Hutchinson remembered thinking, “Mark needs to snap out of it … he needs to care.” Eventually, that mob managed to break into the Capitol. White House counsel Pat Cipollone barreled down the hallway and into Meadows’ office, telling him the president needed to do something. Meadows said Trump didn’t want to, and he didn’t seem particularly interested in trying to convince him otherwise. “Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die and the blood’s going to be on your f---ing hands,” Hutchinson remembered Cipollone saying. We learned a lot about Mark Meadows and his cowardice on Tuesday, but we certainly didn’t learn any of it from Meadows himself. Because while Hutchinson was sharing what she knew, Meadows was hiding. Hiding from the truth, hiding from accountability and, most importantly, hiding from the American public, who deserve the answers he is refusing to give. That's what cowards do; they fail to act when they need to, and run away at the first opportunity. The only silver lining in this cloud is the surety that Meadows' political career is well and truly dead.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LIZ SCOTT: VOTING IS THE CURE FOR MINORITY RULE: Recent days have brought stunning Supreme Court decisions overturning long-standing precedents. I hope that everyone will realize that the only way to have our government institutions reflect our views is to vote. For those who don’t vote or don’t think their vote matters, please consider that if you do not express your views via the ballot box we will continue to have rule by the minority. It is chilling to think what this may mean for the future. The one thing everyone can do is to vote — vote in all elections. The 2020 Presidential Election saw the highest voter turnout of the 21st Century (66.8%), but historically Mid-Terms have been considerably less. 2018 was actually high at 53%, thanks to emotions running high over Trump. Republicans are jazzing their base over inflation and gas prices, so unless we want to avoid a red wave, we need to make sure every potential voter understands what's at stake.
CANDACE GORHAM: THE UNHOLY MARRIAGE OF CHURCH & STATE: Sadly, this Independence Day marks a step backward for our secular nation. A recent slate of rulings from our conservative-leaning Supreme Court has eroded the wall of separation between church and state that our founders constructed nearly 250 years ago. In the past month, the high court has ruled in support of tax dollars for religious schools and prayers during football games and against a woman’s right to choose whether to continue her pregnancy. This religious-leaning court and its rulings do not reflect the direction of our nation, where nearly one in three Americans now identify as having “no religion,” according to Pew Research. In Guilford County, 22% of the population identifies as religiously unaffiliated, according to PRRI Research. I’m proud to count myself as one of the more than 75 million secular Americans who are not religious. And I’m proud to be a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has been fighting to protect our “sacred” separation of church and state. This Independence Day weekend, let’s reaffirm our commitment to keep religion out of government. Because there is no freedom of religion without a government that is free from religion. Way too many "Christians" believe the Bible should be the prevailing document in American government affairs. But I don't believe it's merely faith driving that. Selfishness and self-preservation are inherent in this philosophy, a desire to maintain their primacy over other religions, races, and cultures. And every time we on the left attack government and whine about corruption, we are (maybe inadvertently) feeding that theocratic movement. Don't believe for one second Christofascists won't step right into that power vacuum and take over, if given half a chance.
MIRIAM HAMILL: AVOID ECHO CHAMBERS BEFORE YOU VOTE: Voters need to learn everything they can about candidates before casting a ballot. It seems many of us vote for a person not because they know the facts, but because we automatically believe what some mudslinger says, true or not. For instance, if Fox News is not your cup of tea, perhaps you should hold your nose and listen to what its commentators are saying for a while. Do the same with MSNBC, CNN, the network news channels, etc. Don’t just listen. Fact-check their statements. Are they telling the truth or lying to you? You might be surprised. Blind loyalty to a politician or political party is foolhardy. In fact, it makes ignoramuses of us and allows us to be used. Americans who love our country should be listening to the televised Jan. 6 hearings. Witnesses under oath — not politicians or commentators — are answering important questions. The public is likely to learn factual information. If you don’t believe the answers given, fact-check their statements. Prove them wrong. If you listen to only one voice (no matter which voice), take your head out of the sand and do your homework before voting. Nothing is more urgently important. I agree with this except for the Fox News recommendation. I *do* watch from time to time, but the Trump Presidency purged that network of the few moderately neutral voices (Shep Smith, Chris Wallace), and now it's worse than a train wreck. But relying on a single, "trusted" source, no matter how much you like the way the news is presented, is also a mistake. Multiple, independent (not affiliated with each other) sources need to be used before you come to any conclusion. Yes, it takes more time, but it allows you to use your energy more wisely.