Preview: State of Conflict: North Carolina

December 19, 2013

First it was Wisconsin. Now it’s North Carolina that is redefining the term “battleground state.”  On one side:  a right-wing government enacting laws that are changing the face of the state. On the other:  citizen protesters who are fighting back against what they fear is a radical takeover. This crucible of conflict reflects how the battle for control of American politics is likely to be fought for the foreseeable future: not in Washington, DC, but state by state.

Airing January 3, 2014, “State of Conflict: North Carolina” offers a documentary report from a state that votes both blue and red and sometimes purple (Romney carried it by a whisker in 2012, Obama by an eyelash in 2008).  Now, however, Republicans hold the governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature and they are steering North Carolina far to the right: slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, providing vouchers to private schools, cutting unemployment benefits, refusing to expand Medicaid and rolling back electoral reforms, including voting rights.

At the heart of this conservative onslaught sits a businessman who is so wealthy and powerful that he is frequently described as the state’s own “Koch brother.” Art Pope, whose family fortune was made via a chain of discount stores, has poured tens of millions of dollars into a network of foundations and think tanks that advocate a wide range of conservative causes.  Pope is also a major funder of conservative political candidates in the state.

Pope’s most ardent opponent is the Reverend William Barber, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, who says the right-wing state government has produced “an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, that threaten education [and] that threaten the poor.” Barber’s opposition to the legislature as well as the Pope alliance became a catalyst for the protest movement that became known around the country as “Moral Mondays.”

“State of Conflict” is more than a local story. It offers a case study of what may be the direction of American politics for years, perhaps decades, to come.

“State of Conflict” is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and Schumann Media Center, Inc., headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and media programs to advance public understanding of the critical issues facing democracy.

The full show will air on January 3, 2014. Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company. Watch the full show »

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  • Steve Dean

    As a fellow concerned Tennessean, I would like to follow your writing. How? deansco2010@gmail.com

  • Ruth Nichols

    I look forward to the show. thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone think that with this plan that seems to be working, eventually enough citizens seeing no hope of change will resort to open revolution as the underclass grows and the tiny elite tighten their control and self serving policies?

  • Tess Elliott

    North Carolina has very poor uneducated areas, and very rich and sophisticated university towns. The state has always been anti union. It’s deeply split from border to border, especially now that their mountains and beach areas are the new favorite retirement state. Remember that the KKK is active there, and members killed several Communist protestors in Greensboro in I think 1978 or 9. ALL the KKK members who committed the murders got off in a trial by jury. There are a lot of problems to solve there.

  • turnipblood

    I would offer that TN does have a billionaire calling the shots. The governor, Two billionaires if you count his brother.

  • Chris Twanya Schmidt

    Organize Organize organize…….

  • Anonymous

    As a NC resident who has been voting against all the right-wing politicians for years, I can’t wait to see the full show. I have not been able to attend any of the Moral Monday protests in person. However, I did see a video of the one in Asheville. I wish I would have been there in person. I used to have a good state rep and senator but they were defeated in elections by, in at least one case, someone who should be in a mental institution. (sorry, I don’t mean to insult other mental institution residents by comparing them to this woman)
    Then we had the constitutional amendment in the May 2012 primary election to outlaw same-sex marriage. The right wing used this against anyone running in the general election. sick, sick, sick

  • Anonymous

    I believe it was Rev Barber who was the main speaker at the Moral Monday video I saw of the Asheville event. He is a very good speaker. He could be the next MLK. This time it won’t be just about race. The audience I saw from the Asheville event as very mixed race. Not everyone in NC is a right-winger, by far.

  • Anonymous

    Correct. Actually there are three Haslams pulling strings in TN. Big Jim (retired from Pilot OIl who has massive clout in East TN and with UT-Knoxville), little Jimmy of Pilot Oil fraud fame, and Billy whose Daddy bought the Gov mansion for him. We also have the Frists in Nashville (health care and public education privatization) and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey from Bristol area (insurance) working against our interests. Ramsey has his thumb on the super majority in both houses of the state legislature.
    TN is in deep trouble.

  • Anonymous

    I think you need to remember that Asheville is full of artists, musicians and craft people. These folks tend to be more progressive ans as a bumper stIckers prevelent in the area around the beginning of the century stated, “I’m an artist and I vote!” It’s ademocratic island in a GOP state.

  • Abranomos

    Only united can we bargain, divided we are reduced to beg! May Day 2014, Mr. Bill M. and all other good people and causes together in union. If not now? Than when? Labor, environmental causes, women, voter rights, human rights, animal rights and all the celebrities that are willing. Call on me, I have a list! Amplifying the growing chorus of enlightened outrage for dignity, peace and economic justice for all. We Have 4 months to prepare. Only a revival of an independent labor movement, (should the existing unions want to join, they are more than welcome), with international connections can answer the world elites who are so well financed and organized. Onward In Solidarity!

  • Anonymous

    my Aunty
    Victoria got a nearly new cream Saab 9-3 Convertible from only workin on a pc.
    read the article B­i­g­2­9­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure there are many folks scattered thoughout NC and the university towns are concerned about these topics besides Asheville. However, I think you have a lot of work to do to start getting it better. No state is is perfect by a long shot, and there are plenty of pockets of the uninformed everywhere.
    In any case, I pulling for you, Go, NC!

  • Anonymous

    “It’s a democratic island in a GOP state.”

    Not really true. Democratic US House candidates received 51% of the vote in 2012, but because of the 2010 GOP gerrymandering, only carried 4 out of 13 seats. Over 2.7 million registered Dems vs. less than 2 million registered GOP. It’s a blue state that has had red spray-painted on it by vandals, making it appear purple.

  • Anonymous

    The People united will NEVER be defeated !

  • Anonymous

    I live in Cary and I see Obama stickers around. More progressives in Durham. I also know people who participate in Moral Mondays here in the Triangle. Remember Obama took N C in 2008 and came very close in 2012. We are here.

  • Anonymous

    The state is changing. 78 was 35 yrs ago.

  • Tess Elliott

    I sure hope so, and the retirees are changing the demographic. But the KKK is still active there, like it is in Indiana. I wish for a world where they would be ashamed to be speaking in public. But they are still doing their business, and there are still groups printing pamphlets calling for Secession.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t think TN is alone. Mi and OH are rapidly being overrun by the same extreme right wing corporatists. We see the creeping southern strategy here up North.

  • Anonymous

    The extreme legislation is being given a test run here, kicked into gear by bumpkin gerrymandered despot-representatives, but to think that this is happening in NC because the south is “backward” is a serious mistake. I’m a single mom who moved to NC for the reasonable living expenses and good schools, which may sound like a joke now. I hope many will join us on February 8th in Raleigh. Becoming politically active is a great blessing and balm for the terrible discouragement we might feel otherwise. I look forward to the show! Bill Moyers has kept a bright light shining.

  • Anonymous

    There is so much I want add you your list of things to be furious about. I can’t seem to open the power point–do you have it posted somewhere else you can link to? Art Pope being appointed grand pubah as soon as we elected a “moderate” governor was one of the many times my jaw has dropped reading the news in the past few years.

  • Anonymous

    he who has the gold makes the rule, the golden rule, that is of America today. Money over People, greed and the other deadly sins that real Christian abhor.

    Money bought redistricting that allows Republicans to buy the state government.
    lock, stock and barrel, Corruption, Greed and all that jazz. almost like the Republicans follow the seven deadly sins no Christian would. would Jesus screw the poor over, like our politicians do?

    Greed is ruling North Carolina. which makes sense, considering this kind of a con goes on in every crooked state. Good to see people rising up while there are still laws that allow “protests” to occur. Freedom is fought for, not given.

  • Kristen Osgood-Rdesinski

    The other version of the “Golden Rule” that some people seem to have embraced is “Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you”….such a shame…yet the hypocrisy being promoted is accepted by many. Even the people who are being preyed upon by the “haves” spout the nonsense that is being fed to them, maybe they think that is they go with the program they will be rewarded? Logic and common sense have gone the way of the accurate version of “The Golden Rule”.

  • Noah Read

    The problem is not the number of fringe group members, which is demographically insignificant, but a big problem is segregation. Liberals have geographically self-sorted themselves into electorally uncompetitive enclaves, where they are much less likely to come into contact with people they disagree with. Then they are caught by surprise on election day. To respond to a well funded and well organized political machine, people who think liberally, must also act liberally. There must be a commitment behind the words.

  • Tom Logan

    Over 30 Democrat Governors since 1800′s, only 8 Republican and McCrory makes number 8. Tell me again how it’s the Republicans fault. Source Wiki-pedia. Look it up.

  • Anonymous

    Re-read my post & watch the show. Party affiliation was not mentioned. Millionaires & billionaires who are influence peddling and buying legislation usurps democracy. 99% of average citizens are hurt by the policies they are bankrolling.