Hanna Lesky – Staff writer – HLesky@unca.edu
An oligarchy has taken control of the North Carolina legislature and is using its power to disenfranchise everyone who is not conservative, male, white and upper class.
Our government is supposed to represent the people, but most people in North Carolina are not rich white men, which is the only demographic not hurt by the legislature’s actions.
Those who are hurt, like low-income people and college students, are mostly liberal.
Among the recent plans the legislature has introduced are cutting the UNC system budget by $139 million, suppressing voters by limiting early voting, requiring photo identification to register and not allowing parents to claim their children as dependents if they vote in a different county.
These things put together would keep conservatives in power in North Carolina.
Most college students are liberal, so the GOP believes if it limits higher education, it could prevent people from becoming liberal.
If they prevent those liberal students from voting, they can stay in power and control the state.
A voter I.D. requirement would also harm low-income people who may have trouble getting I.D.s because of work schedules and transportation costs.
These laws are justified with preventing voter fraud, but according to the North Carolina Student Power Union, voter fraud is less common than being struck by lightning.
The legislature could also disenfranchise low-income people in more ways.
One proposal would replace income tax with a higher sales tax, a flat tax that has more burdens on people with less money.
Gov. Pat McCrory also said he would privatize Medicaid, which would move a government service meant to give care to those in the most need to a company with the sole intent to make a profit.
These proposed laws are the works of billionaires who fund Republicans.
One of these billionaires is Art Pope, director of Americans for Prosperity, the organization responsible for the Tea Party. Pope also sits on the board of directors for right-wing think tank The John Locke Foundation.
The John Locke Foundation receives 80 percent of its funding from Pope and has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which works to get oppressive legislation like voter I.D. laws passed in different states.
Pope is also CEO of Variety Wholesalers, Inc., which owns discount chain stores like Super Dollar, Roses and Maxway.
It is interesting that a man with so much money, who funds legislation that hurts low-income people, owns a series of stores meant for low-income shoppers.
Whether on purpose or not, he is keeping people poor so they have no choice but to shop at his stores and make him richer.
Pope funds Republican election campaigns, and was appointed budget director by McCrory. This buying of power is a trend in both state and national politics.
Pope’s appointment is similar to the numerous former Goldman Sachs employees appointed to various positions by President Obama.
Men like Pope disenfranchise those unlike them with the justification that anyone can rise to power with hard work.
It is difficult to tell whether or not they actually think that.
Pope came to power as a CEO by inheriting the position from his father. It is tough to prove he worked any harder than most people. The American dream is false.
It is incredibly unlikely someone who was born poor and of color would ever rise to Pope’s position, and with the cuts to education and services he wants, it will become even more unlikely.