Karen Cox, a professor at UNC Charlotte, writes a meandering column in the New York Times today about politics in the south, and more specifically, about liberals in the south. Touching on race, education, and the urban-rural divide, she addresses a number of important points, but doesn't quite manage to see the elephant in the room.
Many people have labeled my home state of North Carolina a red state, but it’s much more complicated than that. In the very rural mountain county of Avery, for example, Mr. Romney won with a whopping 74.5 percent of the vote, yet in Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, he lost to Mr. Obama by nearly 23 percentage points. True, North Carolinians elected a Republican governor, but to be fair, the Democratic candidate ran a weak campaign.
The elephant in the room, of course, is Art Pope, who after a decade of electioneering, has succeeded in buying both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Supreme Court. With an assist from Duke Energy, he also now owns the Governor's mansion and a new brigade of puppets at the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better.
I would like to be able to drink some blue Kool-aid and draw the same conclusions at Professor Cox. But the sad truth is, North Carolina IS a red state, bought and paid for by a handful of privileged white men and corporate special interests. Unless we accept that harsh reality and knock off the happy talk, we'll have no chance at turning things around.