What we’ve been witnessing at the General Assembly in Raleigh the past few months is the futile attempt by fearful, old, white men to hang on to the power and control to which they assume they’re entitled. These extremists imagine that if they can push women, gays, blacks and Latinos back to the status these groups held prior to the mid-20th century, they can hang on to their perch at the top of the pecking order.
Now don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against old white men. In fact, I am one. But I do take issue with any group, regardless of skin color, sex or age, that abuses its power in a deceitful and un-American attempt to keep others from experiencing the fruits of liberty—equal rights for all, the unfettered opportunity to vote, a quality education for all our children, clean air and water for every citizen . . . I could go on.
If you look at the data, it’s clear that the demographic shift currently taking place in our nation will be the death knell of this Caucasian paternalism. The Pew Research Center projects that non-Hispanic whites will make up only 47 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that this change will take place in 2042. Already racial or ethnic minorities make up nearly 30 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, and this trend is expected to continue.
A few current signs of this shift
Regardless of what you think about his politics, there’s no denying we have elected our first black president, a president who is currently serving his second term. If the odds-makers are right, we will elect a female president in 2016. And surveys show that the children and certainly the grandchildren of the men who currently inhabit the halls of power differ from them significantly in their acceptance of equal rights, a path to citizenship for immigrants and protection of our environment.
Thus, no matter how forcefully the Tea Party (née GOP) shamefully endeavors to suppress the vote, strip women of their rights, push people of color to the back of the bus and keep our children from developing the skills they need in the 21st century, the appalling efforts of our state legislators are doomed to failure in the long run.
True believers won’t be persuaded
It’s obvious from their strident protestations that most of these right-wing zealots imagine they are doing God’s work (though it’s quite clear they are actually following the marching orders of ALEC, the Koch Brothers and Art Pope). Therefore signing petitions, calling or writing them, attending rallies or submitting letters to the editor will not deter the true believers who seem quite certain that the customs of their tribe are the laws of the universe.
So we North Carolinians who are deeply concerned about our state’s current backward direction have choices to make: We can sit around for a decade or two while the old guys pass from the scene; or we can stand up for our values and vote the instigators of the most abhorrent state legislation in the nation out of office. So if you aren’t registered to vote, be sure to do so. If you don’t have a government-issued ID, get one now. If you don’t know where your polling place is, find out. Regardless of your political affiliation (or lack thereof), let’s stand together to sweep Raleigh clean in 2014.
Note: This commentary was published in the August 28 edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times and at Buzzflash.com.