Perhaps it’s fitting that two days before the North Carolina primary — the results of which are reported on page 8 — more than 130 cars were involved in a series of wrecks on the busiest highway in the state, between its first- and third-largest metropolitan areas.
Like the cars that piled up on the side of the road, we in North Carolina have lost our way. We’ve been moving too quickly without knowing where we’re headed, without regard for the others on the road. And all it takes is a little bit of fog or rain to throw everything into turmoil.
We’ve been wasting our time arguing about who can marry whom, demonizing the poorest among us while lionizing the wealthiest, manipulating elections and passing illegal laws. Meanwhile our biggest problems remain untouched.
No matter who won the presidential primaries this week, we in North Carolina will still suffer under a healthcare system administered by the insurance companies, without the benefit of federal Medicaid expansion. The health of our citizens, it seems, does not matter as much to our leaders as insurance-industry profits.
High Point is at the center of a heroin and opiate epidemic that’s ravaging our state, and yet the only legislation passed last term regarding heroin was a Good Samaritan law stipulating that the police can only slap felony charges on people seeking medical treatment for overdose if they have more than a gram of the drug on them or if they gave the 911 operator a fake name.
Our public school system, never the best in the country, has dropped precipitously in the rankings due in part to a starvation of resources, and also to a deliberate fracturing of the system by privately run charter schools that have demanded access to the budget.
Our state university system, once the envy of the nation, can still produce basketball champions but not enough skilled workers to fill the jobs that do open in fits and drabs — and our public schools are not preparing enough kids for college.
Decades after the demise of the manufacturing and agricultural industries upon which the Old North State was built, there is still no real statewide plan to replace these lost jobs.
Our coastline is eroding; coal ash and pig feces contaminate our waterways. We are poor — No. 40 in the US ranking — and we are hungry — the Triad is the hungriest place in the nation.
Even Interstate 40, the site of the mile-long wreck, hasn’t been built up fast enough to keep with demand.
None of these problems matter at the top of the election ticket. And it’s getting harder to believe they mean anything to the candidates further down.