I feel so sick right now. Just got my voting information in the mail, and there are six proposed constitutional amendments this year in North Carolina. I don’t know how much y’all know about elections here, but this is highly unusual. This ain’t California, they ain’t ballot propositions, and they will likely all pass. The last constitutional amendment that was on the ballot that I can even remember was in 2012, which was put there during the Republican primary. It wasn’t even on the November ballot, and it passed by a few percentage points. It was of course an amendment to make marriage between “one man and one woman,” later struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The proposed amendments are nearly all policies that have been struck down by courts so far. There’s an amendment for voter ID after our state legislature’s law was repeatedly smacked down by the Fourth Circuit for its racist targeting and application of voter ID rules.
There’s one about hunting and fishing which is designed to make conservation regulation harder.
There’s one about victims’ rights, which seems to be the most innocuous of the amendments.
There’s also one that would restrict state income taxes to a maximum of 7%, designed to cripple the state budget between now and whenever the next recession arrives. The official explanation even says, “In times of disaster or recession, the State could have to take measures such as cutting core services, raising sales taxes or fees, or increasing borrowing.” Let’s amend the constitution to officially soak the poor who have already literally been soaked by epic flooding and rainfall from Hurricane Florence.
There are two amendments about curtailing the governor’s powers that are currently granted to him in the constitution. After Roy Cooper won in 2016, the state legislature held an emergency session and passed a handful of meaningful restricitons on gubernatorial power, including those affecting the court system and our state elections board. These two anti-democratic amendments are an attempt to enshrine the provisions that state courts had ruled unconstitutional, again circumventing the will of the people.
As I said in the title of this post, this is an end run around the courts. We have been living under minority rule for 8 years now with maps so gerrymandered that they have been ordered to be redrawn multiple times. We do not get to vote for Congress this year with redrawn maps either because the legislature dragged its feet for so so long that it essentially got away with theft by attrition. Our “leaders” have used every little maneuver (even invented some new ones) to curtail the rights of women, LGBTQIA folks, Black folks, the immigrants who keep our agriculture businesses running, and basically anyone else who can’t donate to their campaigns.
I feel so ill because this is my home. I like living here. I have liked living here ever since I returned a few years ago after several years of moving up and down the East coast. I was fortunate enough to attend public schools here when we had decent funding and integrated schools. I’ve watched the rot creep in over the years, even as this state’s population has exploded. A lot of newcomers to this state treat us as backward Southerners, who of course aren’t and never will be progressive like Yankees. Our state’s problem is America’s problem. We have a stark rural-urban divide here, which I’ve only seen get worse since I became an adult. I’m so afraid that people will see these amendments, read them as if they’re in good faith, and vote to pass them because they “sound okay.” The nefarious motives are completely masked by this process, and that’s the point.
I don’t want to abandon my home, but I worry that I will have to soon. I’m so tired and so sick of watching it be ripped apart by careless people.