North Carolina has rarely come off looking good when the national press has taken notice in recent years.
Recent stories include pieces in the New York Times about the Greensboro Police Department’s proclivity for pulling over black people — which, to be fair, was followed up with a piece detailing Chief Wayne Scott’s laudable reaction to the story, which included an order to stop pulling people for minor vehicle infractions — and a litany of handwringing about our backwards General Assembly or the reactionary infection spreading through our once glorious state university system.
But last week the voices that, through gerrymandering and voter suppression, our own state government has been able to disregard made themselves heard at no less an auspicious occasion than the debut of the national frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
Talkin’ about Trump, whose visit to Raleigh last week was marked as much by at least seven separate protest actions, maybe 10, inside the Dorton Arena as it was by gas-guzzling vehicles with offensive bumper stickers and truck nuts in the parking lot during the event.
Credit the man with finding the fault line of the American electorate today and fracking it with the politics of fear and resentment, and for revealing the filthy dark ichor that bubbled up from the rending.
But he’s also created an opposing movement, perhaps even greater in strength than the Trumpers. Here in North Carolina, it’s comprised of voters who have been shut out of our state political system, refused access to the economy or otherwise marginalized — a coalition of Black Lives Matter, refugee supporters and Occupy veterans.
This moment in the zeitgeist, brought to us by Trump, seems a final stand against the creep of reactionary-wing talking points that have come to define reality for the lowest information voters: Guns keep us safe; companies create jobs by not paying taxes; there’s a war on Christmas; Muslims want to kill most of us and impose Sharia law on the rest.
A body can’t begin to fight an infection until the body knows it’s there — that’s when the immune system kicks in and the white blood cells come out.
From the national news desk, it looks like North Carolina is starting to fight back. Perhaps it’s too late for this movement to have any effect on our state government, which has been gerrymandered into submission by the majority party. But at least we can still monkeywrench a Trump party.
For now, it’s enough.