Wednesday, 26 November 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

North Carolina: Battleground State

Thursday, 09 January 2014 00:00 By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company | Video Report

Media

The Moral Monday protest in Marshall Park on August 19, 2013. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/57319697@N00/9554230897/in/photolist-fygVYV-fywzwb-fywAFw-eRe8UJ-eR2pTR-fyeGBh-fyeBVs-fxZsA4-fyw8Eo-fyePNY-fygRrz-fygU6P-fywcUy-fygTzM-fywa3J-fygMvM-fyw871-fygNf6-fygRQV-fygLSi-e1kKer"target="_blank"> Ken Fager / Flickr</a>)The Moral Monday protest in Marshall Park on August 19, 2013. (Photo: Ken Fager / Flickr)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.

This week on Moyers & Company, “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.

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to you and the New Year. An election year for every seat in the House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, 36 governors, and thousands of state legislators. Now, chances are you’re not hearing a lot about those races yet, but in this era of gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, the battle to determine America’s agenda is being fought in state politics.

So on this first weekend of the year, we’re looking at one state that embodies the conflicts roiling the whole country. On one side: a government controlled by the most right-wing conservatives of the Republican Party, who are remaking their state in their image, fueled by the wealth and power of one very rich man. On the other side: a very vocal mix of citizens whose resistance turned the first day of every week into a “Moral Monday.”

Join us for "State of Conflict: North Carolina."

ANNOUNCER: Funding is provided by:

Carnegie Corporation of New York, celebrating 100 years of philanthropy, and committed to doing real and permanent good in the world.

The Kohlberg Foundation.

Independent Production Fund, with support from The Partridge Foundation, a John and Polly Guth Charitable Fund.

The Clements Foundation.

Park Foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues.

The Herb Alpert Foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society.

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.

The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. More information at Macfound.Org.

Anne Gumowitz.

The Betsy And Jesse Fink Foundation.

The HKH Foundation.

Barbara G. Fleischman.

And by our sole corporate sponsor, Mutual of America, designing customized individual and group retirement products. That’s why we’re your retirement company.

BILL MOYERS: A Monday in July. Raleigh, North Carolina. A procession moves toward the state house.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Forward together.

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: Not one step back.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When it comes to education what do we do?

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When it comes to healthcare what do we do?

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

CHIEF WEAVER at the NC General Assembly: My name is Chief Weaver of the General Assembly Police. This is unlawful assembly. You have five minutes to disperse and leave the property.

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

BILL MOYERS: Once inside they block doors and passageways, knowing it will get them arrested. They are part of a movement that’s become known as Moral Mondays.

WOLF BLITZER on CNN: Thousands rallying, protesting at the North Carolina State House for weeks.

NEWSCASTER on MSNBC: It’s been called Moral Mondays, it’s a protest against the state’s government.

NEWSCASTER on CNN: At the Moral Mondays protests here in Raleigh, North Carolina.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: In a state like North Carolina, in the South, turn to your neighbor, say, “We in the South.”

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: We in the South.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Tell the media, this ain’t Wisconsin.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: This ain’t Wisconsin.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Where justice was hammered out.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Where justice was hammered out.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Where freedom was hammered out.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Where freedom was hammered out.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

NEWSCASTER 1 on WRAL: More than a dozen protesters are still in police custody, hours after taking a stand with…

BILL MOYERS: The protests began with a small gathering on a Monday in April. Then, their numbers started growing, Monday after Monday.

NEWSCASTER 2 on WRAL: Each week there are more arrests than the week before. Tonight there were 49.

BILL MOYERS: The rallies kept growing through the spring and the hot Carolina summer.

NEWSCASTER 3 on WRAL: The 13th wave of the Moral Monday protests. Crowds grew so large police had to shut down a portion of Lane Street in downtown Raleigh.

BILL MOYERS: By August, citizens were turning out in town after town across the state.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 13: Ashville Police telling us 5,000 or more gathered here in downtown Asheville.

BILL MOYERS: And the nation was taking notice.

NEWSCASTER on FOX: Moral Monday organizers say the media attention they’re generating outside the General Assembly makes up for much of the political power they lack on the inside.

BILL MOYERS: The protesters are challenging a relentless right-wing crusade to remake the laws of the state.

NEWSCASTER on CBS: In North Carolina, they are trying a new way to get people back to work. They’re cutting off unemployment benefits.

NEWSCASTER on MSNBC: North Carolina passed one of the most restrictive voter suppression bills.

NEWSCASTER 1 on ABC 11: Lawmakers in the statehouse and Senate just voted to prohibit expansion of Medicaid.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: Executions will soon resume here in North Carolina.

NEWSCASTER on NBC-CHARLOTTE: Dropping the state income tax and adding a higher sales...

BILL MOYERS: For the first time in almost 150 years, Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, where they have a veto-proof majority. And they are using their monopoly of power to enact laws the "Charlotte Observer" says “will touch every North Carolinian’s pocketbook, every student’s classroom and every voter’s experience at the polls.”

BOB ZELLNER: The extreme right-wing, they have overstepped so far.

VICKI RYDER: They seem to be targeting those who can least afford to pay for these changes.

WOMAN 1 at Moral Mondays Protest: We’ve just kicked 71,000 of our neighbors off of the benefits that keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables.

MAN 1 at Moral Mondays Protest: What they are doing to public education is a travesty.

WOMAN 2 at Moral Mondays Protest: The legislature wants to lower the age that we can be tried as adults to thirteen.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Day or night, we stand for what is right.

WOMAN 3 at Moral Mondays Protest: We are here to save the soul of our state.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: At the age of 92, I am fed up, and—and fired up. I said fed up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Thank you so very much.

ADAM HOCHBERG: North Carolina has in some ways a bipolar political culture.

BILL MOYERS: Adam Hochberg teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

ADAM HOCHBERG: A lot of people from outside North Carolina, when you say North Carolina, the first thing they think of is Jesse Helms who was of course a stalwart of the hard right and was our senator here for more than twenty years.

SEN. JESSE HELMS: Homosexuals, lesbians, disgusting people marching in our streets, demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other.

ADAM HOCHBERG: On the other hand, North Carolina is the home of a lot of progressive politicians. At the same time that Jesse Helms was in the Senate in the eighties, Terry Sanford was his counterpart in the Senate who is one of best-known southern progressive liberals.

SEN. TERRY SANFORD: We need to remind ourselves that protest, even obnoxious and blood-boiling protest, is the fundamental ingredient of a free people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Our state constitution says …

BILL MOYERS: Today the state’s progressive leader is William Barber. Before the right-wing takeover, his coalition had pushed for a string of successful reforms, including raising the minimum wage and measures increasing voter participation.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Because this right to vote, and the fight for it, is not just political, it’s personal.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Reverend William Barber is the head of the North Carolina NAACP. He is a, he is a man if you’re ever in the room with him, you’ll know he’s in the room.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And we have come to serve notice that we will unleash every political legal and moral strategy that we can to create the New South. But we will not go back.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Well, fundamentally America constantly finds itself in, where the question is a moral question. How are we going to live out our deepest moral principles of doing justice, loving your neighbor, and what does that mean in terms of our laws and our public policy?

BILL MOYERS: Barber was arrested on the first Moral Monday back in April. On the news he declared he was protesting an avalanche of extremist policies.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER on WRAL: That threaten health care, that threaten education, that threaten the poor.

SUE STURGIS: One of the things that particularly upset people is we saw cuts to long-term unemployment assistance.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist Sue Sturgis covers North Carolina politics for the progressive Institute for Southern Studies, in Durham.

SUE STURGIS: It wasn’t a lot of money in the first place, but it was a safety net. And so one of the things we’ve seen as part of the agenda that’s now being played out in Raleigh is constant snips and cuts and tears to that social safety net. It’s no longer a priority for the people who control the state.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 11: 31 yeses and 17 nos, the vote tonight on Senate Bill 4 to block the expansion of Medicaid.

BILL MOYERS: The Republican refusal to expand Medicaid meant denying health insurance to half a million people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: How can you stand up and say I just cut 500,000 people’s access to Medicaid and it’s the moral thing to do?

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: They decided that they’re not going to expand Medicaid. And this was going to do great damage to my patients. And so I take that very personally that I’m not a person who just takes care of hearts and livers, but I need to take care of their, the whole body and the whole person.

BILL MOYERS: Dr. Charles van der Horst is an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: What had happened is that April 29th, Reverend William Barber, had had a rally against these policies. So I thought, I should check this out. So on Monday, May 6, I went along and ended up doing civil disobedience and getting arrested.

WOMAN IN CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Thank you Dr. van der Horst.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: And I deliberately made some decisions in subsequent rallies that I, I stand next to him. I wanted there to be an old white guy in a white coat with a stethoscope standing next to him.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: We’re going to walk together.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Walk together.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And go forward.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: And go forward.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Love is lifted.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Love is lifted.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Justice is realized.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Justice is realized.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Don’t ask us…

ARI BERMAN: He’s trying to build a multi-issue, multi-racial coalition in North Carolina.

BILL MOYERS: Ari Berman has been covering the Moral Mondays movement.

ARI BERMAN: There’s this feeling that social justice is under attack and that people have to get in the streets to make people care, to dramatize what’s happening in the state.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Same struggle, same fight.

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: Gay, straight, black or white.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Same struggle, same fight.

BILL MOYERS The conservative ideology the Moral Monday protesters are fighting isn’t new. What’s new is that just about everything on the right-wing wish list for the past four decades is at last becoming reality. Just as Art Pope planned.

BILL MAHER on Real Time with Bill Maher: What happened in North Carolina? Well, his name is Art Pope. That’s what happened.

ART POPE: I’m Art Pope and I’m a job creator.

CROWD protesting Art Pope Hey hey, ho ho, Art Pope has got to go!

BILL MOYERS: In public, the man most often fingered as the mastermind of the right-wing take-over presents himself as just a low-key member of the governor’s cabinet, running the numbers like an earnest accountant:

ART POPE on WRAL: This budget anticipates revenue neutral tax reform.

BILL MOYERS: He’s self-effacing.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 11: Are you the rainmaker of the North Carolina Republican Party?

ART POPE on ABC 11: No the voters are the rainmaker of the North Carolina Republican Party.

BILL MOYERS But Art Pope wields so much power here that he’s been called everything from kingmaker to king. Pope is very, very rich. And he has shelled out so many millions of dollars for conservative causes and Republican candidates that his adversaries accuse him of buying the state government. Pope claims that’s not what the money’s for.

ART POPE on WRAL: Of course I think it has an impact. But the impact is educating the voters on the issues so they hear both sides of the issues not just one side.

JANE MAYER: There are wealthy individuals who have outsized influence in many states. Usually there’s a handful of them.

BILL MOYERS: Jane Mayer, of "The New Yorker," was the first national journalist to investigate Pope’s power.

JANE MAYER: But he really dominates the landscape in North Carolina in a way that nobody else does.

BILL MOYERS: That’s because he practices the golden rule of modern politics: he with the gold, rules. And Art Pope has the money: his own, his company’s money, and money from the John William Pope Foundation, named for his wealthy businessman father. That single foundation has spent some 46 million dollars on a network of advocacy groups and think tanks bent on steering North Carolina far to the right. Sound familiar?

SUE STURGIS: When people talk about Art Pope, someone who’s often invoked are the Koch brothers, David and Charles Koch, who also run a privately held company and spend a great deal to promote their particular brand of libertarian politics. And he’s very close to the Kochs. He served as a board member of Americans for Prosperity, which is a conservative policy advocacy group that was founded and is funded by the Koch brothers.

JANE MAYER: In some ways, Art Pope is sort of a, a junior-sized version of the Koch brothers. He has what some people call kind of a factory production line for his ideology. The people that work for his think tanks are on the radio, they have websites, they have publications that are statewide. They get their message out all the time.

BILLL MOYERS: Like this message, aimed right at the Moral Mondays protesters.

FRANCIS DE LUCA in Money Monday, Not Moral Monday: Backed by a supportive liberal media, hundreds have been arrested for disrupting the state legislature.

BILL MOYERS: It accuses protest leaders of marching to protect access to government handouts.

FRANCIS DE LUCA in Money Monday, Not Moral Monday: These organizations are fighting to keep their spot at the public trough. Welcome to Money Mondays.

BILL MOYERS: Francis De Luca once ran the North Carolina chapter of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. He’s now head of the John William Pope Civitas Institute.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: So Civitas Institute is heavily funded by the Pope Foundation, but I can tell you having now worked at Civitas for seven years and run it for almost six years, Art Pope’s control over Civitas is very little. He likes policy. I always try to describe Art as a policy wonk. He believes in a vigorous debate, even among his different groups. If you check, you will notice that our groups do not always agree. The groups he’s fund do not always agree on policy.

BILL MOYERS: Perhaps not always, but certainly often enough. For example, on cutting tax rates for corporations and the rich, which is exactly what the state recently did. By 2015, the highest earning North Carolinians will pay almost 26 percent less in income taxes than they did in 2013. Corporations will pay over 27 percent less. There’s also been a repeal of the estate tax, which applied only to people so wealthy, that just 23 families had paid it in the year 2011. When corporate and wealthy interests are at stake, Art Pope is right at home.

Where did Art Pope get the money – and the ideas – that have reshaped the politics of North Carolina?

The story begins when he was young man.

JANE MAYER: He was a very intellectual kid and very early on he went to a summer program that was run by the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank and he was quite swept up with libertarian ideology and the ideas of Ayn Rand. Once he was through college and he went to Duke Law School he eventually became the general counsel in the family firm, and then he rose in the firm.

BILL MOYERS: All the way to the top, becoming CEO of that family firm.

SUE STURGIS: It’s a privately held company called Variety Wholesalers. It was started by his forebears. It’s a discount retail chain.

ADAM HOCHBERG: These are usually lower end discount stores than, than a Target or even a Walmart or a K-Mart store. They go by a variety of different names. One of the largest chains he owns is called Rose’s. There’s one called Maxway. He has great personal wealth and great family wealth.

JANE MAYER: And he had great political ambitions.

SUE STURGIS: Pope served in the legislature for several terms back in the 1980s and into the ‘90s.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Art is a, he’s a very bright man and he knows the state budget and he knows numbers inside and out, but he is not what you call the stereotypic political candidate. You know the smiling telegenic politician. And after a couple years he ran for lieutenant governor and lost, badly. And he realized he was not going to influence North Carolina politics by being lieutenant governor or governor. He was just unlikely to get elected.

BILL MOYERS: Turns out he didn’t need to get elected to win elections. He just had to put his money in where it counted. He first set out to purge moderate Republicans from the state assembly by supporting candidates to their right in GOP primaries. And then, in 20l0 he took on the Democrats, who played right into his hands.

SUE STURGIS: The Democrats were in disarray in 2010. There had been a series of scandals in the party. Corruption scandals.

BILL MOYERS: A Democratic governor had pled guilty to a felony campaign finance charge. And that wasn’t all.

ADAM HOCHBERG: We had a Democratic Speaker of the House go to prison on a bribery scheme. I mean there was a lot of, a lot of sleaze in the Democratic Party. We saw a backlash against President Obama and Obamacare, which is the same thing we saw nationally. We saw frustration over a lousy economy, which was the same thing we saw nationally.

SUE STURGIS: Also that election was right after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened up the door to outside money.

BILL MOYERS: That Citizens United decision, the handiwork of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, enabled corporations and individuals to spend unlimited amounts of often untraceable money—what’s now called “dark money.”

JANE MAYER: He provided a perfect example of how the landscape had changed after the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

ART POPE on C-SPAN: Well, break those numbers up.

JANE MAYER: He saw the opportunities and he had the cash because of his family fortune. Art Pope is a very smart man who is, almost thinks about the world almost like an engineer. And it’s as if somebody had looked at the map in every single district and figured out what it would take to get Republican control. And so he along with some of the people he was working with targeted legislative races to pour money into.

BILL MOYERS: One of their vessels was a front group called Real Jobs NC. Co-founded by Art Pope, and bankrolled by one of his companies and a national Republican group, its real job was to demolish the other side. And in 20l0 it went on the attack.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 1: Putting Raleigh Liberals first.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 2: Their high taxes and wasteful spending cost us jobs.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 3: Her priorities are costing us jobs.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 4: Real Jobs NC sponsored this ad.

SUE STURGIS: That year he and his family and also the outside spending groups that he’s associated with spent 2.2 million on state legislative races.

JANE MAYER: Which in the national scheme of things is not a tremendous amount of money, but in the context of a state, and in the context of state legislative races where really there’s not usually that much money spent, it—it was decisive.

NEWSCASTER on WRAL: Tonight’s shift in power is historic. The Republicans have taken control of both chambers for the first…

NEWSCASTER 1 on ABC 11: Republicans are now in control for the first time in more than a century.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: So how big of a role does Pope himself think he played?

ART POPE on ABC 11: I supported 19 Republican legislative candidates that I contributed to and 17 of those won.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: That’s a pretty good track record.

ART POPE on ABC 11: I’m glad.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The 2010 election, Republicans got control of both houses of the state legislature, first time since just after the Civil War.

SUE STURGIS: And the Republicans were very smart. You know they, they realized that there was an opportunity there. Whoever controlled the legislature in 2010 would control the state’s political future.

BILL MOYERS: The winners would control the future because 2010 was a census year – the first in a decade.

ADAM HOCHBERG: That means they get to control the redistricting process. So as you can imagine, that’s an opportunity for legislators to do some pretty self-serving things, and it was the same thing when Democrats were in charge. With computers nowadays you can get very specific about every house that’s included in the district, and you can know, what’s a Republican neighborhood, what’s a Democratic neighborhood, so you can look up at an individual house and say, okay, the man of the house is a Republican, and the lady of the house is a Democrat, and I see they have one adult son living at home and he’s also a Republican, I mean you can do it to that level. And you can draw districts in such a way that pretty much foretells which party is going to control that district. And what the Republicans did was draw districts as best they could to elect Republicans.

BILL MOYERS: They had help, according to the investigative group ProPublica. Help in the form of dark money from outside sources and Republican operatives down from Washington to help figure out the boundaries most favorable to their party. But there was someone else in the room, too. Art Pope. One person present told "ProPublica:" "we worked together at the workstation … he sat next to me." When the next election came around, 2012, the gerrymandering worked like a charm.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The 2012 election occurs and it is the best election for Republicans in modern history in North Carolina. They take not just control of both houses of the state legislature, and they had not done that in a century, but they take overwhelming control. They take a veto-proof majority control of both houses of the legislature. They also get the governor’s mansion back for the first time in 20 years.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in Campaign Ad: Let’s forget about politics for a while, and think about us. That’s what we tried in Charlotte when I was mayor.

BILL MOYERS: As mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory was known to be a fiscal conservative, but on other issues, fairly moderate for a southern Republican.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in Campaign Ad: I’m Pat McCrory and I’m running for governor.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Governor McCrory in one of the debates before the 2012 election was specifically asked by somebody on the panel in a televised debate, would you sign any measures to further restrict abortion in North Carolina, and he said flat out no.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE If you’re elected Governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign? We’ll start with you, Mr. McCrory.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in 2012 gubernatorial debate: None.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: All right.

BILL MOYERS: But once in office McCrory swung hard to the right, beginning with the casual announcement of a key appointment.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on WRAL: Art Pope has agreed to serve as my deputy budget director.

BILL MOYERS: Say what?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on WRAL: Art Pope has agreed to serve as my deputy budget director.

BILL MOYERS: An innocuous title, masking a startling reality. The man who for years had poured money into those right wing think tanks into the Republican Party, and into Republican campaigns – including Pat McCrory’s -- would now be the governor’s man overseeing the state budget.

VICKI RYDER: His power is, is tremendous and very frightening to me that people can buy their way into that kind of power in what’s supposed to be a people’s democracy.

THE RAGING GRANNIES at Moral Mondays Protest: We’re the Raging Grannies…

BILL MOYERS: Vicki Ryder sings at Moral Monday protests with a group called “The Raging Grannies.”

THE RAGING GRANNIES at Moral Mondays Protest: To think that men in suits might take our voting rights away.

BILL MOYERS: Several years ago she moved from New York to North Carolina.

VICKI RYDER: After my husband and I retired, we were looking for a place to live that would be supportive of our values. And the Triangle region of North Carolina seemed to be a good fit for us. So we have just been shocked by how quickly things have turned from a very progressive atmosphere to one of extraordinary regression.

BILL MOYERS: Conservatives were getting the results they had been praying for. Some examples. Seventy five percent of the tax cuts went to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. Anyone making more than, say, $250,000 a year would now pay a state income tax rate at the same level as those making $25,000. Earned income tax credits for the poor were cut. Budgets were cut for at-risk kids in pre-K even as vouchers were given to private schools. Unemployment insurance was cut – with a bill crafted by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. And in Art Pope’s budget, the state’s higher education system took a hit of 64 million.

ADAM HOCHBERG: You’ve traditionally had a lot of support for education in North Carolina, especially for a southern state. And I think it’s something that a lot of North Carolinians take, take pride in, not just, you know, pointy-headed liberal intellectuals, but a lot of people in the business community too. And I don’t think you’ll find even among Republican business leaders this attitude of marginalizing higher education that you have seen from the state capital. One of the first things that Governor McCrory did, one of the first controversies he got involved with as governor is he went on a conservative radio show, a national show, and took some swipes at the university and said, there are too many degrees in liberal arts, and he said, if you want to get a degree in gender studies, go to private school and do it, the people of North Carolina don’t want to pay for that.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: That's a subsidized course, and frankly if you want to take gender studies that's fine, go to a private school and take it, but I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: And he said that if you wanted to study these things that you should go to a private college rather than a, rather than a public one, which is not an option for so many of us.

BILL MOYERS: Molly McDonough grew up in Chapel Hill. She’s a sophomore at North Carolina State University.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: I'm looking at legislation right now in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday, go ahead and develop legislation which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges.

BILL BENNETT on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: Great, great.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America It's not based upon how many butts in seats, but how many of those butts can get jobs.

BILL BENNETT on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: Excellent. How many employable butts. Okay.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: I can’t remember the exact quote, but he said, it was something weird. It was about like all the butts in seats need a job.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH at Moral Mondays My name is Molly McDonough. And I am 18 years old. So when I told my friends and my family that I was planning to get arrested, they were all very concerned about my future. And my response to that was I am doing this so that I can have a future.

BILL MOYERS: The budget did more than strip cash from education. Among other things, it got rid of jobs for environmental regulators, cut funds for drug addiction treatment, even funds that help people with AIDS buy drugs – the costly ones that would keep them alive. Sean Gorman is a hemophiliac, who got HIV from a blood transfusion. He’s been treated by Dr. Charles van der Horst since 1985.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Again. And he was desperately ill very early with all sorts of horrible, horrible infections, including you had CMV retinitis.

SEAN GORMAN: Yeah, that’s how I lost this eye. I don't have vision in this eye.

BILL MOYERS: Gorman gets his medicine through a program called “AIDS Drug Assistance Program” – “ADAP.”

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Deep breath.

BILL MOYERS: The Art Pope budget cuts 8 million dollars from ADAP. And advocates say that’s enough to prevent some 900 future AIDS patients from getting the life-saving drugs they need through the program.

SEAN GORMAN: You know, people won’t be able to buy their, you know, to afford to get their medications, then they’ll do without, and then they’ll get some crazy opportunistic disease, go into the hospital and have huge hospital bills which they won’t be able to pay for.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Right. The average hospital admission would be something like $100,000 for an opportunistic infection.

Who’s going to pay for that? Well you and I will pay for that. That comes out our health insurance costs. So not only is it not being a good, moral person to take care of them, it economically makes no sense.

SEAN GORMAN: Alright, we’ll see you in six months.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Yeah, take care.

SEAN GORMAN: All right, thank you.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Good luck. Bye bye.

SEAN GORMAN: Yep, thank you. Bye bye.

BILL MOYERS: There have been other dramatic changes. For one, the election of state judges.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: I believe we were the first state in the country to enact public financing for our appellate court races, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. And the rationale was we didn’t want judges running who were going to be getting money from the lawyers who were going to be appearing before them to finance their campaigns.

SUE STURGIS: And it worked very well and it’s been very popular. Democrats and Republicans, men and women, black and white, across the board it was a very popular program.

BILL MOYERS: But popular or not, the Art Pope network wanted it gone. And the Republicans killed that clean elections system for judges.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: What further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?

BILL MOYERS: Then there’s abortion rights.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: We’ll start with you Mr. McCrory.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY: None.

BILL MOYERS: Remember that campaign promise candidate McCrory made in 2012? Well in 2013, Governor McCrory was singing a different tune.

NEWSCASTER on NBC-CHARLOTTE: He says he’ll sign a controversial abortion bill into law. Protesters tell NBC-Charlotte reporter Rad Berky that is a broken promise.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: Basically the impact will be that 15 of the 16 clinics left in the state that provide abortions will have to shut down under the new standards.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go!

BILL MOYERS: Moral Monday protesters say they barely recognize their state under the current regime. What has outraged them most is the state’s new voting law, which cuts right to the heart of democracy.

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: When voting rights are under attack, what do we do?

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Stand up, fight back!

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: When voting rights are under attack, what do we do?

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Stand up, fight back!

BILL MOYERS: To understand their outrage, you need to know a little history.

ARI BERMAN: For a long time, North Carolina didn’t really have a very strong voter turnout.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist Ari Berman is writing a book about voting rights.

ARI BERMAN: And then they did a number of things after the 2000 election to make it easier for people to vote, they, for example, expanded early voting, they allowed same day voter registration during that early voting period, and those kind of things started to propel North Carolina forward in terms of voter turnout.

BILL MOYERS: Those voting reforms were on display during the presidential election of 2008, when North Carolina swung toward the Democrats for the first time in decades – not least because early voting brought more people to the polls.

RACHEL MADDOW on MSNBC: On election day itself there were actually more votes cast for John McCain than there were for Barack Obama, but Obama still won the state because […] more than half of all North Carolina voters in 2008 voted early, and early voters ultimately put Obama over the top.

ARI BERMAN: And so I think Republicans said we need to down some of these voters. We need to make it so that the electorate is older, whiter, more conservative, not younger and more diverse.

BILL MOYERS: And how better to do that, than to push for strict voter ID requirements? And in 2008, that’s exactly what the Pope network began to do.

SUE STURGIS: There just has not been any kind of widespread voter fraud, but they repeatedly raise it as a concern in order to build a case for voter ID laws.

ARI BERMAN: Then you had candidates who are funded by Pope who said the same thing, so that there was some perception among elected officials that voter fraud was a problem even though it wasn’t.

REP. TOM MURRY In order to restore confidence and accountability to our elections, we need voter ID.

ARI BERMAN: And pass this anti-voting legislation, essentially based on the manufactured outrage that Pope had ginned up.

BILL MOYERS: In 2013 the right-wing legislature passed a new law that critics called a voter suppression act – in part because its requirement for ID cards is most likely to affect the young, elderly, poor and minority voters. And there’s more.

ARI BERMAN: They cut a week off of early voting, they eliminated same day registration during that early voting period, they expanded the number of poll watchers that can challenge eligible voters on election day. At the same time they were eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: One of the changes in the bill was this thing they called preregistration, where they registered 16 and 17 year-olds using the schools to register them. You know, I like to call this the “pedophilia enabling act.” Where in the world can I go on a government website and find a list of 16 year-olds and their home addresses? I can go to the state board of elections. If you walked into a school and asked for that list, not only would you not get it, you would probably be arrested. And they would send police to your home and say why do you want a list of all our 16 year-olds in the school?

ARI BERMAN: I think that’s a legitimate argument, but I don’t think that’s what motivated the passage of that provision. I mean, there is really no evidence that pre-registering 16 and 17 year-olds endangers their security, there’s no evidence that it leads to voter fraud. And so to get rid of something like that I think sends a very bad message to the young people in North Carolina.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: And I think that it’s unfortunate because it’s, it seems to be part and parcel of pattern to make it much more difficult for a particular demographic to vote. And I guess I would say the bill is designed to make it more difficult for Democrats to vote basically.

BILL MOYERS: If you don’t want to take that from a Democratic legislator like Pricey Harrison, take it from a Republican county executive, Don Yelton, who admitted as much in his now infamous appearance on the Daily Show.

DON YELTON on The Daily Show: The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt. If it hurts a bunch of college kids that’s too lazy to get up off their bohunkus and go get a photo ID, so be it.

AASIF MANDVI on The Daily Show: Right, right.

DON YELTON on The Daily Show: If it hurts the whites so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.

BILL MOYERS: Almost immediately, Yelton was forced to resign his position in the Republican Party.

ROSANELL EATON: Good evening everybody.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Good evening.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: I am Rosanell Eaton, 92 years old. A citizen of Franklin County. I am before you today to speak on voting rights. We need more, not less, public access to the ballot.

BILL MOYERS: Her name is Rosanell Eaton, and she has a very long memory, including crosses burning on her lawn and Jim Crow laws forcing segregation on black Americans far into the 20th century.

ARMENTA EATON: My mother, Rosanell, always believed that everybody should have the right to vote. She’s registered approximately, probably over 4,000 people. She got an award for that. She was awarded what is called the Invisible Giant Award. She would always have her little forms with her, she even has them now when she doesn’t really necessarily have to, but she wants to make sure that everybody—if she’s to see a person, she might ask them if they’re registered to vote.

BILL MOYERS: When she first registered to vote as a young woman, she faced a group of white men who put her to a test reserved for African Americans: she was told if she wanted to vote, she’d have to recite the preamble to the US Constitution.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: One of the men told me, stand up straight against that wall with your eyes looking directly toward me, and repeat the Preamble of the United States of America. Without missing a word, I did it.

ARMENTA EATON: All right, ready to roll.

And it really bothers her that voter suppression coming right back in the year 2013. She just never thought she’d have to be fighting this battle just on another type of turf.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the N.C. General Assembly: Bring it down, bring it down. Everybody listen up.

ROSANELL EATON at the N.C. General Assembly: So let me tell you people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the N.C. General Assembly: So let me tell you.

ROSANELL EATON at the N.C. General Assembly: There’s nobody in here I know that’s any older than I am.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: There’s nobody in here any older than I am.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: But you need to get involved.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Get involved.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: When something comes up, you be involved.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When something comes up, you be involved.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: You won’t have to learn—

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: You—

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: You won’t have to learn new strategy.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: You don’t have to learn new strategy.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: Be ready for them.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Just be ready for them.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: So you all just keep on.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Keep on.

POLICE OFFICER at the NC General Assembly: …General Assembly Police. You have two minutes to disperse or you will be arrested. Two minutes.

BILL MOYERS: On June 24th, 2013, Rosanell Eaton was arrested at the state legislature and charged with trespassing. Vicki Ryder was arrested in July.

VICKI RYDER: I think one of the things frankly that bothers me the most about what’s happening is that we fought that fight. You know, I was there in Washington, DC 50 years ago when Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. And we thought that we were making some progress.

BILL MOYERS: It’s a common theme among the protesters that today’s battles hark back to earlier ones, in the Civil Rights movement.

ARI BERMAN: Remember, North Carolina was where the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, started. Those sit-ins in Greensboro inspired the modern civil rights movement of the 1960s. And so there’s a long history in North Carolina of civil rights activism and some of those very activists, people like Bob Zellner of SNCC, have been extremely active in the Moral Monday movement today.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go.

BOB ZELLNER: Well I grew up in L.A., in Lower Alabama. I was the first white southern field secretary for SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and I was one of the first seventeen that were arrested in Moral Monday.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: We fight, we fight, we fight.

BOB ZELLNER: Our purpose in life is to work for those who are powerless. And what’s happening now in the Moral Monday movement is on the same moral plane as what happened in the civil rights movement.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: I got to say I think this is laughable. We’re talking about the people in the civil rights era, we’re talking about people being beaten, we’re talking about people, when they were put in jail, they didn’t get out of jail in time to go eat dinner that night. I am not questioning the individuals, why they’re doing it in their motivation, I am questioning the ones who try and equate it with the ‘60s and ‘50s and some of the great struggles in history.

BILL MOYERS: Protesters, however say the Pope-funded Civitas Institute itself has reached back to the past and dredged up an ugly tactic used against civil rights activists.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: So what they did, they put all our names, our occupations, our age, our race, party affiliation, and our employer, and our salary if we were public employees.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: And we put all that up there, and we put up their party registration, which we just cross-checked, public record, to help identify what they were.

SUE STURGIS: It really hearkened back, and this is what really upset people a lot, it really hearkened back to a strategy that we saw during the mid-20th century civil rights movement where people protesting Jim Crow, who were signing petitions against segregation would have their names pulled off those petitions and put in the newspaper. And it was a way to encourage retaliation against them. Not necessarily violent retaliation, but you know the employer might see your name there and maybe didn’t want to hire a troublemaker.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: You know I just don’t understand that thing that on one hand, you’re publicizing how you got arrested but on the other hand if we say it, it’s intimidation.

BILL MOYERS: There’s also an interactive feature on the Civitas site.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: Like there’s this game called “pick the protestor” where it has like three mug shots and it’s like, which person is retired? Which person lives in Chapel Hill? Which person has the last name of McDonough? And you click on the mug shot of the person you think it is.

BILL MOYERS: Francis De Luca says the game is a “fun” way to get people to interact with the site, and to prove that the protesters don’t really represent North Carolina – that they are disproportionately white Democrats, with more clergy and public sector workers than the state as a whole. The protesters say they indeed represent their state’s diversity. And that parts of the database are skewed.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: I looked myself up and they have some inaccurate information there. They, they have one section of the spreadsheets that are voting discrepancies, and so they say that I’m a registered Democrat which I am and then they say that I am registered to vote at the wrong address. Now what they either didn’t take into account or didn’t, you know, care to think through is that I’m a student. In November I live in Raleigh on NC State campus, and my permanent address is in Chapel Hill. And so when I got arrested I put down the address that they will always be able to contact me through which is my mother’s address. And that’s not where I registered to vote.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: You vote where you live. If I tell you, if I registered to vote, I can tell you, if I get arrested, it’s going to be the same place. My home address is the same place I vote. I mean that’s how it’s supposed to be that your domicile is where you vote so if I’m telling you I get, when I get arrested I actually live somewhere else, but my registration is over here, then one of those two things is a lie.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: I think their intention was to intimidate others from committing acts of civil disobedience. And instead it’s had the reverse effect.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Gathering: Mr. Pope, it’s a waste of your money. See they want us to come here today and be all upset about this site. They want to sucker us into a back and forth about people on a website so they can take the focus off the policies being passed and signed by them in the General Assembly and in the Governor’s office. But it will not work.

BILL MOYERS: But so far, what North Carolina’s far right government is doing is working.

MAN at NC General Assembly: Clerk will allow the machine to record the vote. 84 have voted in the affirmative, 32 in the negative. The motion passes.

BILL MOYERS: Protesters are powerless to stop the passage of a single law.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Not going back.

BILL MOYERS: It’s true they aren’t giving up.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And so turn to your neighbor and say, let us not despair.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH AND HER SISTER at Moral Mondays Protest: Let us not despair.

BILL MOYERS: But neither are Art Pope, the governor, and the veto-proof legislature.

JANE MAYER: Well, I think what’s important is that what Art Pope has done in North Carolina could be done pretty much in any state. He’s shown that one really wealthy individual can almost rule.

BILL MOYERS: And so we enter 2014 with one more reminder that America is a country where the wealthy almost rule. Money talks. Although when we offered Mr. Pope and Governor McCrory an opportunity to be interviewed for our report, they didn’t respond.

Luckily, some people are much more vocal -- fighting back, saying enough is enough. And I don’t just mean the Moral Mondays protestors. The U.S. Justice Department is challenging North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law, arguing that it will have a disproportionate impact on minorities. And those new gerrymandered districts, engineered with Art Pope sitting in the room to ensure Republican dominance, are also being challenged in North Carolina’s own Supreme Court. The charge is that they’re race-based, and therefore unconstitutional. Yet even there, in the state’s highest court, money may affect the outcome. Take a look.

A Republican political action committee in Washington sends over a million dollars to a political action committee in North Carolina called Justice For All NC. That group then sends over a million dollars to a Super PAC called North Carolina Judicial Coalition, which spends over a million dollars supporting Justice Newby’s re-election.

Now that Republican political action committee in Washington where the money started is the same one North Carolinian Republicans worked with to gerrymander the state. That plan is being challenged by citizen groups as race-based and unconstitutional. So where do these citizens turn to seek justice? To the very state Supreme Court, one of whose members was re-elected with money from the partisans who drew up the redistricting in the first place. Justice can't be more corrupted than that. But when money rules, nothing is sacred, or cheap.

Which could explain why Art Pope, as we reported earlier, has waged a long crusade to kill the state’s popular system of public funding for judicial races – a system created to prevent rich people like pope and corporations from buying justice.

Last summer, Pope succeeded, opening North Carolina's highest court to the highest bidders.

Katie bar the door – except that no matter which door we’re talking about, Art Pope has the key to it. And possibly to the future.

Take the firepower of the rich, pour in heaps of dark money loosed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, add generous doses of fervent ideology, and presto: the battle for American politics and governance is joined. And every state becomes North Carolina, including yours.

TITLE CARD: "State of Conflict" is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC, and the Schumann Media Center, Inc., headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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North Carolina: Battleground State

Thursday, 09 January 2014 00:00 By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company | Video Report

Media

The Moral Monday protest in Marshall Park on August 19, 2013. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/57319697@N00/9554230897/in/photolist-fygVYV-fywzwb-fywAFw-eRe8UJ-eR2pTR-fyeGBh-fyeBVs-fxZsA4-fyw8Eo-fyePNY-fygRrz-fygU6P-fywcUy-fygTzM-fywa3J-fygMvM-fyw871-fygNf6-fygRQV-fygLSi-e1kKer"target="_blank"> Ken Fager / Flickr</a>)The Moral Monday protest in Marshall Park on August 19, 2013. (Photo: Ken Fager / Flickr)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.

This week on Moyers & Company, “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.

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to you and the New Year. An election year for every seat in the House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, 36 governors, and thousands of state legislators. Now, chances are you’re not hearing a lot about those races yet, but in this era of gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, the battle to determine America’s agenda is being fought in state politics.

So on this first weekend of the year, we’re looking at one state that embodies the conflicts roiling the whole country. On one side: a government controlled by the most right-wing conservatives of the Republican Party, who are remaking their state in their image, fueled by the wealth and power of one very rich man. On the other side: a very vocal mix of citizens whose resistance turned the first day of every week into a “Moral Monday.”

Join us for "State of Conflict: North Carolina."

ANNOUNCER: Funding is provided by:

Carnegie Corporation of New York, celebrating 100 years of philanthropy, and committed to doing real and permanent good in the world.

The Kohlberg Foundation.

Independent Production Fund, with support from The Partridge Foundation, a John and Polly Guth Charitable Fund.

The Clements Foundation.

Park Foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues.

The Herb Alpert Foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society.

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.

The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. More information at Macfound.Org.

Anne Gumowitz.

The Betsy And Jesse Fink Foundation.

The HKH Foundation.

Barbara G. Fleischman.

And by our sole corporate sponsor, Mutual of America, designing customized individual and group retirement products. That’s why we’re your retirement company.

BILL MOYERS: A Monday in July. Raleigh, North Carolina. A procession moves toward the state house.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Forward together.

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: Not one step back.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When it comes to education what do we do?

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When it comes to healthcare what do we do?

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

CHIEF WEAVER at the NC General Assembly: My name is Chief Weaver of the General Assembly Police. This is unlawful assembly. You have five minutes to disperse and leave the property.

CROWD at the NC General Assembly: We fight, we fight, we fight.

BILL MOYERS: Once inside they block doors and passageways, knowing it will get them arrested. They are part of a movement that’s become known as Moral Mondays.

WOLF BLITZER on CNN: Thousands rallying, protesting at the North Carolina State House for weeks.

NEWSCASTER on MSNBC: It’s been called Moral Mondays, it’s a protest against the state’s government.

NEWSCASTER on CNN: At the Moral Mondays protests here in Raleigh, North Carolina.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: In a state like North Carolina, in the South, turn to your neighbor, say, “We in the South.”

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: We in the South.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Tell the media, this ain’t Wisconsin.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: This ain’t Wisconsin.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Where justice was hammered out.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Where justice was hammered out.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Where freedom was hammered out.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Where freedom was hammered out.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: This is the South.

NEWSCASTER 1 on WRAL: More than a dozen protesters are still in police custody, hours after taking a stand with…

BILL MOYERS: The protests began with a small gathering on a Monday in April. Then, their numbers started growing, Monday after Monday.

NEWSCASTER 2 on WRAL: Each week there are more arrests than the week before. Tonight there were 49.

BILL MOYERS: The rallies kept growing through the spring and the hot Carolina summer.

NEWSCASTER 3 on WRAL: The 13th wave of the Moral Monday protests. Crowds grew so large police had to shut down a portion of Lane Street in downtown Raleigh.

BILL MOYERS: By August, citizens were turning out in town after town across the state.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 13: Ashville Police telling us 5,000 or more gathered here in downtown Asheville.

BILL MOYERS: And the nation was taking notice.

NEWSCASTER on FOX: Moral Monday organizers say the media attention they’re generating outside the General Assembly makes up for much of the political power they lack on the inside.

BILL MOYERS: The protesters are challenging a relentless right-wing crusade to remake the laws of the state.

NEWSCASTER on CBS: In North Carolina, they are trying a new way to get people back to work. They’re cutting off unemployment benefits.

NEWSCASTER on MSNBC: North Carolina passed one of the most restrictive voter suppression bills.

NEWSCASTER 1 on ABC 11: Lawmakers in the statehouse and Senate just voted to prohibit expansion of Medicaid.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: Executions will soon resume here in North Carolina.

NEWSCASTER on NBC-CHARLOTTE: Dropping the state income tax and adding a higher sales...

BILL MOYERS: For the first time in almost 150 years, Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, where they have a veto-proof majority. And they are using their monopoly of power to enact laws the "Charlotte Observer" says “will touch every North Carolinian’s pocketbook, every student’s classroom and every voter’s experience at the polls.”

BOB ZELLNER: The extreme right-wing, they have overstepped so far.

VICKI RYDER: They seem to be targeting those who can least afford to pay for these changes.

WOMAN 1 at Moral Mondays Protest: We’ve just kicked 71,000 of our neighbors off of the benefits that keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables.

MAN 1 at Moral Mondays Protest: What they are doing to public education is a travesty.

WOMAN 2 at Moral Mondays Protest: The legislature wants to lower the age that we can be tried as adults to thirteen.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Day or night, we stand for what is right.

WOMAN 3 at Moral Mondays Protest: We are here to save the soul of our state.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: At the age of 92, I am fed up, and—and fired up. I said fed up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fed up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Fired up.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: Thank you so very much.

ADAM HOCHBERG: North Carolina has in some ways a bipolar political culture.

BILL MOYERS: Adam Hochberg teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

ADAM HOCHBERG: A lot of people from outside North Carolina, when you say North Carolina, the first thing they think of is Jesse Helms who was of course a stalwart of the hard right and was our senator here for more than twenty years.

SEN. JESSE HELMS: Homosexuals, lesbians, disgusting people marching in our streets, demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other.

ADAM HOCHBERG: On the other hand, North Carolina is the home of a lot of progressive politicians. At the same time that Jesse Helms was in the Senate in the eighties, Terry Sanford was his counterpart in the Senate who is one of best-known southern progressive liberals.

SEN. TERRY SANFORD: We need to remind ourselves that protest, even obnoxious and blood-boiling protest, is the fundamental ingredient of a free people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Our state constitution says …

BILL MOYERS: Today the state’s progressive leader is William Barber. Before the right-wing takeover, his coalition had pushed for a string of successful reforms, including raising the minimum wage and measures increasing voter participation.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Because this right to vote, and the fight for it, is not just political, it’s personal.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Reverend William Barber is the head of the North Carolina NAACP. He is a, he is a man if you’re ever in the room with him, you’ll know he’s in the room.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And we have come to serve notice that we will unleash every political legal and moral strategy that we can to create the New South. But we will not go back.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Well, fundamentally America constantly finds itself in, where the question is a moral question. How are we going to live out our deepest moral principles of doing justice, loving your neighbor, and what does that mean in terms of our laws and our public policy?

BILL MOYERS: Barber was arrested on the first Moral Monday back in April. On the news he declared he was protesting an avalanche of extremist policies.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER on WRAL: That threaten health care, that threaten education, that threaten the poor.

SUE STURGIS: One of the things that particularly upset people is we saw cuts to long-term unemployment assistance.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist Sue Sturgis covers North Carolina politics for the progressive Institute for Southern Studies, in Durham.

SUE STURGIS: It wasn’t a lot of money in the first place, but it was a safety net. And so one of the things we’ve seen as part of the agenda that’s now being played out in Raleigh is constant snips and cuts and tears to that social safety net. It’s no longer a priority for the people who control the state.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 11: 31 yeses and 17 nos, the vote tonight on Senate Bill 4 to block the expansion of Medicaid.

BILL MOYERS: The Republican refusal to expand Medicaid meant denying health insurance to half a million people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER: How can you stand up and say I just cut 500,000 people’s access to Medicaid and it’s the moral thing to do?

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: They decided that they’re not going to expand Medicaid. And this was going to do great damage to my patients. And so I take that very personally that I’m not a person who just takes care of hearts and livers, but I need to take care of their, the whole body and the whole person.

BILL MOYERS: Dr. Charles van der Horst is an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: What had happened is that April 29th, Reverend William Barber, had had a rally against these policies. So I thought, I should check this out. So on Monday, May 6, I went along and ended up doing civil disobedience and getting arrested.

WOMAN IN CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Thank you Dr. van der Horst.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: And I deliberately made some decisions in subsequent rallies that I, I stand next to him. I wanted there to be an old white guy in a white coat with a stethoscope standing next to him.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: We’re going to walk together.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Walk together.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And go forward.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: And go forward.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Love is lifted.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Love is lifted.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Until.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Justice is realized.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Justice is realized.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Don’t ask us…

ARI BERMAN: He’s trying to build a multi-issue, multi-racial coalition in North Carolina.

BILL MOYERS: Ari Berman has been covering the Moral Mondays movement.

ARI BERMAN: There’s this feeling that social justice is under attack and that people have to get in the streets to make people care, to dramatize what’s happening in the state.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Same struggle, same fight.

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: Gay, straight, black or white.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Same struggle, same fight.

BILL MOYERS The conservative ideology the Moral Monday protesters are fighting isn’t new. What’s new is that just about everything on the right-wing wish list for the past four decades is at last becoming reality. Just as Art Pope planned.

BILL MAHER on Real Time with Bill Maher: What happened in North Carolina? Well, his name is Art Pope. That’s what happened.

ART POPE: I’m Art Pope and I’m a job creator.

CROWD protesting Art Pope Hey hey, ho ho, Art Pope has got to go!

BILL MOYERS: In public, the man most often fingered as the mastermind of the right-wing take-over presents himself as just a low-key member of the governor’s cabinet, running the numbers like an earnest accountant:

ART POPE on WRAL: This budget anticipates revenue neutral tax reform.

BILL MOYERS: He’s self-effacing.

NEWSCASTER on ABC 11: Are you the rainmaker of the North Carolina Republican Party?

ART POPE on ABC 11: No the voters are the rainmaker of the North Carolina Republican Party.

BILL MOYERS But Art Pope wields so much power here that he’s been called everything from kingmaker to king. Pope is very, very rich. And he has shelled out so many millions of dollars for conservative causes and Republican candidates that his adversaries accuse him of buying the state government. Pope claims that’s not what the money’s for.

ART POPE on WRAL: Of course I think it has an impact. But the impact is educating the voters on the issues so they hear both sides of the issues not just one side.

JANE MAYER: There are wealthy individuals who have outsized influence in many states. Usually there’s a handful of them.

BILL MOYERS: Jane Mayer, of "The New Yorker," was the first national journalist to investigate Pope’s power.

JANE MAYER: But he really dominates the landscape in North Carolina in a way that nobody else does.

BILL MOYERS: That’s because he practices the golden rule of modern politics: he with the gold, rules. And Art Pope has the money: his own, his company’s money, and money from the John William Pope Foundation, named for his wealthy businessman father. That single foundation has spent some 46 million dollars on a network of advocacy groups and think tanks bent on steering North Carolina far to the right. Sound familiar?

SUE STURGIS: When people talk about Art Pope, someone who’s often invoked are the Koch brothers, David and Charles Koch, who also run a privately held company and spend a great deal to promote their particular brand of libertarian politics. And he’s very close to the Kochs. He served as a board member of Americans for Prosperity, which is a conservative policy advocacy group that was founded and is funded by the Koch brothers.

JANE MAYER: In some ways, Art Pope is sort of a, a junior-sized version of the Koch brothers. He has what some people call kind of a factory production line for his ideology. The people that work for his think tanks are on the radio, they have websites, they have publications that are statewide. They get their message out all the time.

BILLL MOYERS: Like this message, aimed right at the Moral Mondays protesters.

FRANCIS DE LUCA in Money Monday, Not Moral Monday: Backed by a supportive liberal media, hundreds have been arrested for disrupting the state legislature.

BILL MOYERS: It accuses protest leaders of marching to protect access to government handouts.

FRANCIS DE LUCA in Money Monday, Not Moral Monday: These organizations are fighting to keep their spot at the public trough. Welcome to Money Mondays.

BILL MOYERS: Francis De Luca once ran the North Carolina chapter of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. He’s now head of the John William Pope Civitas Institute.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: So Civitas Institute is heavily funded by the Pope Foundation, but I can tell you having now worked at Civitas for seven years and run it for almost six years, Art Pope’s control over Civitas is very little. He likes policy. I always try to describe Art as a policy wonk. He believes in a vigorous debate, even among his different groups. If you check, you will notice that our groups do not always agree. The groups he’s fund do not always agree on policy.

BILL MOYERS: Perhaps not always, but certainly often enough. For example, on cutting tax rates for corporations and the rich, which is exactly what the state recently did. By 2015, the highest earning North Carolinians will pay almost 26 percent less in income taxes than they did in 2013. Corporations will pay over 27 percent less. There’s also been a repeal of the estate tax, which applied only to people so wealthy, that just 23 families had paid it in the year 2011. When corporate and wealthy interests are at stake, Art Pope is right at home.

Where did Art Pope get the money – and the ideas – that have reshaped the politics of North Carolina?

The story begins when he was young man.

JANE MAYER: He was a very intellectual kid and very early on he went to a summer program that was run by the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank and he was quite swept up with libertarian ideology and the ideas of Ayn Rand. Once he was through college and he went to Duke Law School he eventually became the general counsel in the family firm, and then he rose in the firm.

BILL MOYERS: All the way to the top, becoming CEO of that family firm.

SUE STURGIS: It’s a privately held company called Variety Wholesalers. It was started by his forebears. It’s a discount retail chain.

ADAM HOCHBERG: These are usually lower end discount stores than, than a Target or even a Walmart or a K-Mart store. They go by a variety of different names. One of the largest chains he owns is called Rose’s. There’s one called Maxway. He has great personal wealth and great family wealth.

JANE MAYER: And he had great political ambitions.

SUE STURGIS: Pope served in the legislature for several terms back in the 1980s and into the ‘90s.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Art is a, he’s a very bright man and he knows the state budget and he knows numbers inside and out, but he is not what you call the stereotypic political candidate. You know the smiling telegenic politician. And after a couple years he ran for lieutenant governor and lost, badly. And he realized he was not going to influence North Carolina politics by being lieutenant governor or governor. He was just unlikely to get elected.

BILL MOYERS: Turns out he didn’t need to get elected to win elections. He just had to put his money in where it counted. He first set out to purge moderate Republicans from the state assembly by supporting candidates to their right in GOP primaries. And then, in 20l0 he took on the Democrats, who played right into his hands.

SUE STURGIS: The Democrats were in disarray in 2010. There had been a series of scandals in the party. Corruption scandals.

BILL MOYERS: A Democratic governor had pled guilty to a felony campaign finance charge. And that wasn’t all.

ADAM HOCHBERG: We had a Democratic Speaker of the House go to prison on a bribery scheme. I mean there was a lot of, a lot of sleaze in the Democratic Party. We saw a backlash against President Obama and Obamacare, which is the same thing we saw nationally. We saw frustration over a lousy economy, which was the same thing we saw nationally.

SUE STURGIS: Also that election was right after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened up the door to outside money.

BILL MOYERS: That Citizens United decision, the handiwork of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, enabled corporations and individuals to spend unlimited amounts of often untraceable money—what’s now called “dark money.”

JANE MAYER: He provided a perfect example of how the landscape had changed after the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

ART POPE on C-SPAN: Well, break those numbers up.

JANE MAYER: He saw the opportunities and he had the cash because of his family fortune. Art Pope is a very smart man who is, almost thinks about the world almost like an engineer. And it’s as if somebody had looked at the map in every single district and figured out what it would take to get Republican control. And so he along with some of the people he was working with targeted legislative races to pour money into.

BILL MOYERS: One of their vessels was a front group called Real Jobs NC. Co-founded by Art Pope, and bankrolled by one of his companies and a national Republican group, its real job was to demolish the other side. And in 20l0 it went on the attack.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 1: Putting Raleigh Liberals first.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 2: Their high taxes and wasteful spending cost us jobs.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 3: Her priorities are costing us jobs.

ANNOUNCER in Real Jobs NC Campaign AD 4: Real Jobs NC sponsored this ad.

SUE STURGIS: That year he and his family and also the outside spending groups that he’s associated with spent 2.2 million on state legislative races.

JANE MAYER: Which in the national scheme of things is not a tremendous amount of money, but in the context of a state, and in the context of state legislative races where really there’s not usually that much money spent, it—it was decisive.

NEWSCASTER on WRAL: Tonight’s shift in power is historic. The Republicans have taken control of both chambers for the first…

NEWSCASTER 1 on ABC 11: Republicans are now in control for the first time in more than a century.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: So how big of a role does Pope himself think he played?

ART POPE on ABC 11: I supported 19 Republican legislative candidates that I contributed to and 17 of those won.

NEWSCASTER 2 on ABC 11: That’s a pretty good track record.

ART POPE on ABC 11: I’m glad.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The 2010 election, Republicans got control of both houses of the state legislature, first time since just after the Civil War.

SUE STURGIS: And the Republicans were very smart. You know they, they realized that there was an opportunity there. Whoever controlled the legislature in 2010 would control the state’s political future.

BILL MOYERS: The winners would control the future because 2010 was a census year – the first in a decade.

ADAM HOCHBERG: That means they get to control the redistricting process. So as you can imagine, that’s an opportunity for legislators to do some pretty self-serving things, and it was the same thing when Democrats were in charge. With computers nowadays you can get very specific about every house that’s included in the district, and you can know, what’s a Republican neighborhood, what’s a Democratic neighborhood, so you can look up at an individual house and say, okay, the man of the house is a Republican, and the lady of the house is a Democrat, and I see they have one adult son living at home and he’s also a Republican, I mean you can do it to that level. And you can draw districts in such a way that pretty much foretells which party is going to control that district. And what the Republicans did was draw districts as best they could to elect Republicans.

BILL MOYERS: They had help, according to the investigative group ProPublica. Help in the form of dark money from outside sources and Republican operatives down from Washington to help figure out the boundaries most favorable to their party. But there was someone else in the room, too. Art Pope. One person present told "ProPublica:" "we worked together at the workstation … he sat next to me." When the next election came around, 2012, the gerrymandering worked like a charm.

ADAM HOCHBERG: The 2012 election occurs and it is the best election for Republicans in modern history in North Carolina. They take not just control of both houses of the state legislature, and they had not done that in a century, but they take overwhelming control. They take a veto-proof majority control of both houses of the legislature. They also get the governor’s mansion back for the first time in 20 years.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in Campaign Ad: Let’s forget about politics for a while, and think about us. That’s what we tried in Charlotte when I was mayor.

BILL MOYERS: As mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory was known to be a fiscal conservative, but on other issues, fairly moderate for a southern Republican.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in Campaign Ad: I’m Pat McCrory and I’m running for governor.

ADAM HOCHBERG: Governor McCrory in one of the debates before the 2012 election was specifically asked by somebody on the panel in a televised debate, would you sign any measures to further restrict abortion in North Carolina, and he said flat out no.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE If you’re elected Governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign? We’ll start with you, Mr. McCrory.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY in 2012 gubernatorial debate: None.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: All right.

BILL MOYERS: But once in office McCrory swung hard to the right, beginning with the casual announcement of a key appointment.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on WRAL: Art Pope has agreed to serve as my deputy budget director.

BILL MOYERS: Say what?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on WRAL: Art Pope has agreed to serve as my deputy budget director.

BILL MOYERS: An innocuous title, masking a startling reality. The man who for years had poured money into those right wing think tanks into the Republican Party, and into Republican campaigns – including Pat McCrory’s -- would now be the governor’s man overseeing the state budget.

VICKI RYDER: His power is, is tremendous and very frightening to me that people can buy their way into that kind of power in what’s supposed to be a people’s democracy.

THE RAGING GRANNIES at Moral Mondays Protest: We’re the Raging Grannies…

BILL MOYERS: Vicki Ryder sings at Moral Monday protests with a group called “The Raging Grannies.”

THE RAGING GRANNIES at Moral Mondays Protest: To think that men in suits might take our voting rights away.

BILL MOYERS: Several years ago she moved from New York to North Carolina.

VICKI RYDER: After my husband and I retired, we were looking for a place to live that would be supportive of our values. And the Triangle region of North Carolina seemed to be a good fit for us. So we have just been shocked by how quickly things have turned from a very progressive atmosphere to one of extraordinary regression.

BILL MOYERS: Conservatives were getting the results they had been praying for. Some examples. Seventy five percent of the tax cuts went to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. Anyone making more than, say, $250,000 a year would now pay a state income tax rate at the same level as those making $25,000. Earned income tax credits for the poor were cut. Budgets were cut for at-risk kids in pre-K even as vouchers were given to private schools. Unemployment insurance was cut – with a bill crafted by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. And in Art Pope’s budget, the state’s higher education system took a hit of 64 million.

ADAM HOCHBERG: You’ve traditionally had a lot of support for education in North Carolina, especially for a southern state. And I think it’s something that a lot of North Carolinians take, take pride in, not just, you know, pointy-headed liberal intellectuals, but a lot of people in the business community too. And I don’t think you’ll find even among Republican business leaders this attitude of marginalizing higher education that you have seen from the state capital. One of the first things that Governor McCrory did, one of the first controversies he got involved with as governor is he went on a conservative radio show, a national show, and took some swipes at the university and said, there are too many degrees in liberal arts, and he said, if you want to get a degree in gender studies, go to private school and do it, the people of North Carolina don’t want to pay for that.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: That's a subsidized course, and frankly if you want to take gender studies that's fine, go to a private school and take it, but I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: And he said that if you wanted to study these things that you should go to a private college rather than a, rather than a public one, which is not an option for so many of us.

BILL MOYERS: Molly McDonough grew up in Chapel Hill. She’s a sophomore at North Carolina State University.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: I'm looking at legislation right now in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday, go ahead and develop legislation which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges.

BILL BENNETT on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: Great, great.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America It's not based upon how many butts in seats, but how many of those butts can get jobs.

BILL BENNETT on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America: Excellent. How many employable butts. Okay.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: I can’t remember the exact quote, but he said, it was something weird. It was about like all the butts in seats need a job.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH at Moral Mondays My name is Molly McDonough. And I am 18 years old. So when I told my friends and my family that I was planning to get arrested, they were all very concerned about my future. And my response to that was I am doing this so that I can have a future.

BILL MOYERS: The budget did more than strip cash from education. Among other things, it got rid of jobs for environmental regulators, cut funds for drug addiction treatment, even funds that help people with AIDS buy drugs – the costly ones that would keep them alive. Sean Gorman is a hemophiliac, who got HIV from a blood transfusion. He’s been treated by Dr. Charles van der Horst since 1985.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Again. And he was desperately ill very early with all sorts of horrible, horrible infections, including you had CMV retinitis.

SEAN GORMAN: Yeah, that’s how I lost this eye. I don't have vision in this eye.

BILL MOYERS: Gorman gets his medicine through a program called “AIDS Drug Assistance Program” – “ADAP.”

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Deep breath.

BILL MOYERS: The Art Pope budget cuts 8 million dollars from ADAP. And advocates say that’s enough to prevent some 900 future AIDS patients from getting the life-saving drugs they need through the program.

SEAN GORMAN: You know, people won’t be able to buy their, you know, to afford to get their medications, then they’ll do without, and then they’ll get some crazy opportunistic disease, go into the hospital and have huge hospital bills which they won’t be able to pay for.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Right. The average hospital admission would be something like $100,000 for an opportunistic infection.

Who’s going to pay for that? Well you and I will pay for that. That comes out our health insurance costs. So not only is it not being a good, moral person to take care of them, it economically makes no sense.

SEAN GORMAN: Alright, we’ll see you in six months.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Yeah, take care.

SEAN GORMAN: All right, thank you.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: Good luck. Bye bye.

SEAN GORMAN: Yep, thank you. Bye bye.

BILL MOYERS: There have been other dramatic changes. For one, the election of state judges.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: I believe we were the first state in the country to enact public financing for our appellate court races, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. And the rationale was we didn’t want judges running who were going to be getting money from the lawyers who were going to be appearing before them to finance their campaigns.

SUE STURGIS: And it worked very well and it’s been very popular. Democrats and Republicans, men and women, black and white, across the board it was a very popular program.

BILL MOYERS: But popular or not, the Art Pope network wanted it gone. And the Republicans killed that clean elections system for judges.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: What further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?

BILL MOYERS: Then there’s abortion rights.

DEBATE QUESTIONER LAURA LESLIE: We’ll start with you Mr. McCrory.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY: None.

BILL MOYERS: Remember that campaign promise candidate McCrory made in 2012? Well in 2013, Governor McCrory was singing a different tune.

NEWSCASTER on NBC-CHARLOTTE: He says he’ll sign a controversial abortion bill into law. Protesters tell NBC-Charlotte reporter Rad Berky that is a broken promise.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: Basically the impact will be that 15 of the 16 clinics left in the state that provide abortions will have to shut down under the new standards.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go!

BILL MOYERS: Moral Monday protesters say they barely recognize their state under the current regime. What has outraged them most is the state’s new voting law, which cuts right to the heart of democracy.

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: When voting rights are under attack, what do we do?

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Stand up, fight back!

CHANT LEADERS at Moral Mondays Protest: When voting rights are under attack, what do we do?

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Stand up, fight back!

BILL MOYERS: To understand their outrage, you need to know a little history.

ARI BERMAN: For a long time, North Carolina didn’t really have a very strong voter turnout.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist Ari Berman is writing a book about voting rights.

ARI BERMAN: And then they did a number of things after the 2000 election to make it easier for people to vote, they, for example, expanded early voting, they allowed same day voter registration during that early voting period, and those kind of things started to propel North Carolina forward in terms of voter turnout.

BILL MOYERS: Those voting reforms were on display during the presidential election of 2008, when North Carolina swung toward the Democrats for the first time in decades – not least because early voting brought more people to the polls.

RACHEL MADDOW on MSNBC: On election day itself there were actually more votes cast for John McCain than there were for Barack Obama, but Obama still won the state because […] more than half of all North Carolina voters in 2008 voted early, and early voters ultimately put Obama over the top.

ARI BERMAN: And so I think Republicans said we need to down some of these voters. We need to make it so that the electorate is older, whiter, more conservative, not younger and more diverse.

BILL MOYERS: And how better to do that, than to push for strict voter ID requirements? And in 2008, that’s exactly what the Pope network began to do.

SUE STURGIS: There just has not been any kind of widespread voter fraud, but they repeatedly raise it as a concern in order to build a case for voter ID laws.

ARI BERMAN: Then you had candidates who are funded by Pope who said the same thing, so that there was some perception among elected officials that voter fraud was a problem even though it wasn’t.

REP. TOM MURRY In order to restore confidence and accountability to our elections, we need voter ID.

ARI BERMAN: And pass this anti-voting legislation, essentially based on the manufactured outrage that Pope had ginned up.

BILL MOYERS: In 2013 the right-wing legislature passed a new law that critics called a voter suppression act – in part because its requirement for ID cards is most likely to affect the young, elderly, poor and minority voters. And there’s more.

ARI BERMAN: They cut a week off of early voting, they eliminated same day registration during that early voting period, they expanded the number of poll watchers that can challenge eligible voters on election day. At the same time they were eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: One of the changes in the bill was this thing they called preregistration, where they registered 16 and 17 year-olds using the schools to register them. You know, I like to call this the “pedophilia enabling act.” Where in the world can I go on a government website and find a list of 16 year-olds and their home addresses? I can go to the state board of elections. If you walked into a school and asked for that list, not only would you not get it, you would probably be arrested. And they would send police to your home and say why do you want a list of all our 16 year-olds in the school?

ARI BERMAN: I think that’s a legitimate argument, but I don’t think that’s what motivated the passage of that provision. I mean, there is really no evidence that pre-registering 16 and 17 year-olds endangers their security, there’s no evidence that it leads to voter fraud. And so to get rid of something like that I think sends a very bad message to the young people in North Carolina.

REP. PRICEY HARRISON: And I think that it’s unfortunate because it’s, it seems to be part and parcel of pattern to make it much more difficult for a particular demographic to vote. And I guess I would say the bill is designed to make it more difficult for Democrats to vote basically.

BILL MOYERS: If you don’t want to take that from a Democratic legislator like Pricey Harrison, take it from a Republican county executive, Don Yelton, who admitted as much in his now infamous appearance on the Daily Show.

DON YELTON on The Daily Show: The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt. If it hurts a bunch of college kids that’s too lazy to get up off their bohunkus and go get a photo ID, so be it.

AASIF MANDVI on The Daily Show: Right, right.

DON YELTON on The Daily Show: If it hurts the whites so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.

BILL MOYERS: Almost immediately, Yelton was forced to resign his position in the Republican Party.

ROSANELL EATON: Good evening everybody.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Good evening.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: I am Rosanell Eaton, 92 years old. A citizen of Franklin County. I am before you today to speak on voting rights. We need more, not less, public access to the ballot.

BILL MOYERS: Her name is Rosanell Eaton, and she has a very long memory, including crosses burning on her lawn and Jim Crow laws forcing segregation on black Americans far into the 20th century.

ARMENTA EATON: My mother, Rosanell, always believed that everybody should have the right to vote. She’s registered approximately, probably over 4,000 people. She got an award for that. She was awarded what is called the Invisible Giant Award. She would always have her little forms with her, she even has them now when she doesn’t really necessarily have to, but she wants to make sure that everybody—if she’s to see a person, she might ask them if they’re registered to vote.

BILL MOYERS: When she first registered to vote as a young woman, she faced a group of white men who put her to a test reserved for African Americans: she was told if she wanted to vote, she’d have to recite the preamble to the US Constitution.

ROSANELL EATON at Moral Mondays Protest: One of the men told me, stand up straight against that wall with your eyes looking directly toward me, and repeat the Preamble of the United States of America. Without missing a word, I did it.

ARMENTA EATON: All right, ready to roll.

And it really bothers her that voter suppression coming right back in the year 2013. She just never thought she’d have to be fighting this battle just on another type of turf.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the N.C. General Assembly: Bring it down, bring it down. Everybody listen up.

ROSANELL EATON at the N.C. General Assembly: So let me tell you people.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the N.C. General Assembly: So let me tell you.

ROSANELL EATON at the N.C. General Assembly: There’s nobody in here I know that’s any older than I am.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: There’s nobody in here any older than I am.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: But you need to get involved.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Get involved.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: When something comes up, you be involved.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: When something comes up, you be involved.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: You won’t have to learn—

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: You—

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: You won’t have to learn new strategy.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: You don’t have to learn new strategy.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: Be ready for them.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Just be ready for them.

ROSANELL EATON at the NC General Assembly: So you all just keep on.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at the NC General Assembly: Keep on.

POLICE OFFICER at the NC General Assembly: …General Assembly Police. You have two minutes to disperse or you will be arrested. Two minutes.

BILL MOYERS: On June 24th, 2013, Rosanell Eaton was arrested at the state legislature and charged with trespassing. Vicki Ryder was arrested in July.

VICKI RYDER: I think one of the things frankly that bothers me the most about what’s happening is that we fought that fight. You know, I was there in Washington, DC 50 years ago when Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. And we thought that we were making some progress.

BILL MOYERS: It’s a common theme among the protesters that today’s battles hark back to earlier ones, in the Civil Rights movement.

ARI BERMAN: Remember, North Carolina was where the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, started. Those sit-ins in Greensboro inspired the modern civil rights movement of the 1960s. And so there’s a long history in North Carolina of civil rights activism and some of those very activists, people like Bob Zellner of SNCC, have been extremely active in the Moral Monday movement today.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: Hey hey, ho ho, Pat McCrory has got to go.

BOB ZELLNER: Well I grew up in L.A., in Lower Alabama. I was the first white southern field secretary for SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and I was one of the first seventeen that were arrested in Moral Monday.

CROWD at Moral Mondays Protest: We fight, we fight, we fight.

BOB ZELLNER: Our purpose in life is to work for those who are powerless. And what’s happening now in the Moral Monday movement is on the same moral plane as what happened in the civil rights movement.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: I got to say I think this is laughable. We’re talking about the people in the civil rights era, we’re talking about people being beaten, we’re talking about people, when they were put in jail, they didn’t get out of jail in time to go eat dinner that night. I am not questioning the individuals, why they’re doing it in their motivation, I am questioning the ones who try and equate it with the ‘60s and ‘50s and some of the great struggles in history.

BILL MOYERS: Protesters, however say the Pope-funded Civitas Institute itself has reached back to the past and dredged up an ugly tactic used against civil rights activists.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: So what they did, they put all our names, our occupations, our age, our race, party affiliation, and our employer, and our salary if we were public employees.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: And we put all that up there, and we put up their party registration, which we just cross-checked, public record, to help identify what they were.

SUE STURGIS: It really hearkened back, and this is what really upset people a lot, it really hearkened back to a strategy that we saw during the mid-20th century civil rights movement where people protesting Jim Crow, who were signing petitions against segregation would have their names pulled off those petitions and put in the newspaper. And it was a way to encourage retaliation against them. Not necessarily violent retaliation, but you know the employer might see your name there and maybe didn’t want to hire a troublemaker.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: You know I just don’t understand that thing that on one hand, you’re publicizing how you got arrested but on the other hand if we say it, it’s intimidation.

BILL MOYERS: There’s also an interactive feature on the Civitas site.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: Like there’s this game called “pick the protestor” where it has like three mug shots and it’s like, which person is retired? Which person lives in Chapel Hill? Which person has the last name of McDonough? And you click on the mug shot of the person you think it is.

BILL MOYERS: Francis De Luca says the game is a “fun” way to get people to interact with the site, and to prove that the protesters don’t really represent North Carolina – that they are disproportionately white Democrats, with more clergy and public sector workers than the state as a whole. The protesters say they indeed represent their state’s diversity. And that parts of the database are skewed.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH: I looked myself up and they have some inaccurate information there. They, they have one section of the spreadsheets that are voting discrepancies, and so they say that I’m a registered Democrat which I am and then they say that I am registered to vote at the wrong address. Now what they either didn’t take into account or didn’t, you know, care to think through is that I’m a student. In November I live in Raleigh on NC State campus, and my permanent address is in Chapel Hill. And so when I got arrested I put down the address that they will always be able to contact me through which is my mother’s address. And that’s not where I registered to vote.

FRANCIS DE LUCA: You vote where you live. If I tell you, if I registered to vote, I can tell you, if I get arrested, it’s going to be the same place. My home address is the same place I vote. I mean that’s how it’s supposed to be that your domicile is where you vote so if I’m telling you I get, when I get arrested I actually live somewhere else, but my registration is over here, then one of those two things is a lie.

DR. CHARLES VAN DER HORST: I think their intention was to intimidate others from committing acts of civil disobedience. And instead it’s had the reverse effect.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Gathering: Mr. Pope, it’s a waste of your money. See they want us to come here today and be all upset about this site. They want to sucker us into a back and forth about people on a website so they can take the focus off the policies being passed and signed by them in the General Assembly and in the Governor’s office. But it will not work.

BILL MOYERS: But so far, what North Carolina’s far right government is doing is working.

MAN at NC General Assembly: Clerk will allow the machine to record the vote. 84 have voted in the affirmative, 32 in the negative. The motion passes.

BILL MOYERS: Protesters are powerless to stop the passage of a single law.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: Not going back.

BILL MOYERS: It’s true they aren’t giving up.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER at Moral Mondays Protest: And so turn to your neighbor and say, let us not despair.

MOLLY MCDONOUGH AND HER SISTER at Moral Mondays Protest: Let us not despair.

BILL MOYERS: But neither are Art Pope, the governor, and the veto-proof legislature.

JANE MAYER: Well, I think what’s important is that what Art Pope has done in North Carolina could be done pretty much in any state. He’s shown that one really wealthy individual can almost rule.

BILL MOYERS: And so we enter 2014 with one more reminder that America is a country where the wealthy almost rule. Money talks. Although when we offered Mr. Pope and Governor McCrory an opportunity to be interviewed for our report, they didn’t respond.

Luckily, some people are much more vocal -- fighting back, saying enough is enough. And I don’t just mean the Moral Mondays protestors. The U.S. Justice Department is challenging North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law, arguing that it will have a disproportionate impact on minorities. And those new gerrymandered districts, engineered with Art Pope sitting in the room to ensure Republican dominance, are also being challenged in North Carolina’s own Supreme Court. The charge is that they’re race-based, and therefore unconstitutional. Yet even there, in the state’s highest court, money may affect the outcome. Take a look.

A Republican political action committee in Washington sends over a million dollars to a political action committee in North Carolina called Justice For All NC. That group then sends over a million dollars to a Super PAC called North Carolina Judicial Coalition, which spends over a million dollars supporting Justice Newby’s re-election.

Now that Republican political action committee in Washington where the money started is the same one North Carolinian Republicans worked with to gerrymander the state. That plan is being challenged by citizen groups as race-based and unconstitutional. So where do these citizens turn to seek justice? To the very state Supreme Court, one of whose members was re-elected with money from the partisans who drew up the redistricting in the first place. Justice can't be more corrupted than that. But when money rules, nothing is sacred, or cheap.

Which could explain why Art Pope, as we reported earlier, has waged a long crusade to kill the state’s popular system of public funding for judicial races – a system created to prevent rich people like pope and corporations from buying justice.

Last summer, Pope succeeded, opening North Carolina's highest court to the highest bidders.

Katie bar the door – except that no matter which door we’re talking about, Art Pope has the key to it. And possibly to the future.

Take the firepower of the rich, pour in heaps of dark money loosed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, add generous doses of fervent ideology, and presto: the battle for American politics and governance is joined. And every state becomes North Carolina, including yours.

TITLE CARD: "State of Conflict" is a collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC, and the Schumann Media Center, Inc., headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Bill Moyers

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations. In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of "Moyers & Company." With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill Moyers has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as "NOW with Bill Moyers" (2002-2005) and "Bill Moyers Journal" (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers' most recent book, "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," was published in May 2011. He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.


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