O-Pinion

Why Republican finger-pointing over Moral Mondays’ union ties looks disingenuous

(Right) North Carolina state NAACP President William Barber II speaks to Moral Monday protesters gathered outside the Statesville Civic Center on Monday, March 24, 2014.
(Right) North Carolina state NAACP President William Barber II speaks to Moral Monday protesters gathered outside the Statesville Civic Center on Monday, March 24, 2014. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

While the Republican leaders of the N.C. General Assembly defend their restrictive 2013 voting reforms in federal court this week, their allies in the N.C. Republican Party are working hard outside it in hopes of discrediting state NAACP President William Barber and his Moral Mondays protest movement.

The GOP claims Barber speaks out on behalf of the poor not because of his morals, but because big national labor unions have paid him $20,000 in speaking fees to challenge the GOP agenda in North Carolina.

They have long hoped to discredit the pesky, persistent Moral Mondays movement by claiming the protesters are out-of-state agitators. Now, GOP operatives say they have proof in the form of this video, in which a protester from New York is asked about her living arrangements while in North Carolina:

So the state’s Republican leaders, already eyeball-deep in out-of-state donor money, are jumping up and down and pointing fingers because – horrors! – the competition has out-of-state unions parachuting in to help push its cause.

Pardon me if I don’t sprint for the nearest air raid shelter and make like the world’s coming to an end.

Oh, but this is indeed a big deal, says state GOP chairman Hasan Harnett. He claimed Monday that the labor unions are backing the protesters’ fight against tougher voting laws because the unions “want to make it easier to cheat in our elections.”

Such allegations drew a sharp response from Rob Schofield of left-leaning N.C. Policy Watch. He called talk of Barber having questionable ties to unions “a virtual stink bomb” from “sad and uninformed mouthpieces” on the right.

The voting rights debate happening inside a Winston-Salem courtroom represents serious business for North Carolina. The political mudslinging outside it? Not so much. Too bad you can’t point a remote control at it and zap it all into oblivion, like any other bad reality TV show.

Here’s an idea: why don’t both liberal and conservative N.C. activists, and the state’s Republican and Democratic parties, get together and hammer out mutually-agreed-on caps on the various types of out-of-state money N.C. they will accept?

That would be far more productive than whatever sigh-inducing media stunt they might think up next.

Eric Frazier

  Comments