Barbed wire facing in

Back in the day, one of my favorite musicians was Joni Mitchell. The woman's voice is sublime and startling all that the same time, with lyrics that have proven timeless. In Big Yellow Taxi, she wrote:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

That's how North Carolina is feeling these days. After years of moderate Democratic leadership, voters threw "the bastards" out in 2010 and 2012, looking for greener pastures under the watchful eye of responsible Republicans. Boy were they fooled. Instead of having to contend with Democratic bastards, voters invited in the Devil himself, a trinity of wanton destruction in the form of Thom Tillis, Pat McCrory and Phil Berger. These are men who don't quality for the faintest of praise; they don't even mean well.

As Thomas Mills observes today, we're not alone in our misery. People in North Carolina share a common fate with people in Kansas.

Republicans in North Carolina and Kansas decided to make both states conservative laboratories, enacting ALEC supported legislation to slash taxes and cut funding to all sorts of government programs including public schools, community colleges and universities. Both states are seeing a public backlash. Just like North Carolina, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican legislature slashed taxes on the wealthiest while raising them on the poor, promising that the changes would spur economic growth. It didn’t happen in either state. Kansas has seen a hole in its budget so large that its bond rating was downgraded. North Carolina already has a 10% drop in revenue and we are still a couple of years behind Kansas.

Will voters in November recognize the damage done and return to the familiar Democratic pastures that have been left behind? I believe they would if they could, but they can't. Because in addition to all the damage they've done, Republicans have used gerrymandering and voter suppression to build a fence around us, with the barbed-wire facing in. Short of full-scale uprising, there's no way out.

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