The weekly protesters at the North Carolina legislature call their charge against Republican policies a moral imperative. But it is a moral imperative replete with a Democratic agenda in an election year.
The “Moral Monday” movement has become a de facto campaign tool for Democrats to publicize their platform and recruit volunteers to help them win elections. In a year when North Carolina’s heated U.S. Senate race can decide the direction of the upper chamber, results will hinge on the movement’s ability to translate the voices to votes come November.
Thousands have turned out for the protests in Raleigh over the past year; 1,500 rallied at the kickoff of its second year last week. They’re pushing for a repeal of GOP laws on voting and teacher pay along with a Medicaid expansion and more funding for social programs and unemployment benefits.
The state Democratic Party appreciates the help as it rides the “Moral Monday” wave.
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“I am very, very grateful that he has picked up the mantle,” Casey Mann, executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party, said of the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and chief organizer of the “Moral Monday” protests.
The party has largely been in turmoil since losing control of the legislature in 2010, struggling to raise money, going through two executive directors within a two-year period, and dealing with an internal divide between activists and establishment leaders.
That mantle was one that needed to be picked up, said Thomas Mills, a Democratic political consultant based in Raleigh.
“I’m not seeing any evidence that they have their act together to do much of anything,” he said.
“Moral Monday” is not a tool of the Democratic Party, but it can translate into the re-election of Sen. Kay Hagan and votes for a more Democratic legislature, said Mills. “In order for them to do that they’ve got to shift ‘Moral Monday’ from a protest movement into a campaign organization and that’s going to take identifying people who’s willing to work.”
Bringing voters to the polls is a priority, Barber says. The group is launching a campaign across the state this summer, putting organizers in communities to mobilize voters and build local outposts of the “Moral Monday” movement outside of Raleigh.
The state party and North Carolina NAACP do not technically collaborate, but the party’s executive board has endorsed “Moral Monday,” and sees it as a gathering of the faithful.