Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Sunday, April 07, 2013

NC vs. TN: A Race to the Bottom

Last month I wrote about how Tennessee welcomes you unless you're gay, poor, or have special needs. I related how I was too embarrassed to tell people where I was from and didn't mind making something up - Boston, Denver, Seattle - anywhere but here.

That was before I started paying attention to what was happening in our neighbor state to the east of us. I used to think North Carolina ceded us back to the Union because they simply didn't like us but it turns out we have more in common than just our hills and stills.

There's a whole lot of shaking going on. Both states are trembling with fear, ignorance, loathing and God's word. One would be justified in thinking the two states are racing to see which one will reenter the 18th century first.

Take a moment to scan these summaries of what's happening in North Carolina and Tennessee. There's more in this mirror image than just the widths of the two states and there's more at stake than these silly bills.

Voter Disenfranchisement
     NC: Killing the youth vote and shortening early voting period
     TN: Student IDs and an underhanded primary plan

Punishing Poor People
     NC: background checks on people seeking welfare and food stamps
     TN: cut off food stamps for kids not making passing grades in school
     (video of Martin Bashir grilling this utter disgrace to humanity)

That Old Time Religion
     NC: Resolution proposed to establish a state religion DOA
     TN: Paranoid fears of Muslims leads to the absurd

Regardless of whether or not these idiotic measures pass, it will take decades, if not forever, for North Carolinans and Tennesseans to recover from the stupidity and insanity on the part of these public servants. The fallout just creates more division and, in the meantime, far more serious problems go unresolved.

If I were to pen an open letter to my state legislators in Tennessee, it would go something like the one Jamison Doran wrote to those in North Carolina. She talks about the profound love she has for her native state:
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I have found that to be almost painfully true as someone who is no longer a resident of North Carolina. I find myself often longing for the cool mountain breezes, ice-cold creeks, sweet tea, and southern hospitality. I wear a pendant of the state around my neck, publicly displaying where my heart lies, and that while Washington, D.C. might be my home right now, it'll never actually be home.
I can relate because I felt exactly the same way all the years I lived in Colorado and elsewhere, returning as often as circumstances would allow. I too felt that the time would arrive when my native state would beckon me home. Ten years ago when the decision was actually made to come back once and for all, I didn't have the "benefit" of reading glaring and embarrassing headlines about "another horrid piece of legislation".

After reviewing North Carolina's collection of absurd and draconian measures, which are so much like Tennessee's that one would be justified in wondering if our legislators met at the bottom of a ravine on the state line, Jamison ends with a plea:
In this "race to the bottom" my only hope is your utter disregard for what is good and right in the state helps bring people together to voice their outrage over what you're doing. So when the time comes we're mobilized to take our state back and out of the hands of the likes of all of you.
It's too late for me but I urge Jamison to remember the words of one of her state's most talented authors:
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
Thomas Wolfe Museum
Asheville, NC


  1. Thank you for reminding me. After a couple incidents recently, I was seriously contemplating a movie back to my roots and am currently changing my mind. I need/want to make some changes but going 'home' isn't one of them.

  2. Cut food stamps when kids don't do well in school? Who would have thought that making kids go hungry is the best way of helping them to learn? Now that's thinking outside the box!

    About the Senate-primary thing, lately the saner Republicans have been doing a lot of thinking about reducing grassroots influence in their primaries, to stop the teabaggers from nominating any more Christine O'Donnell types who then go on to lose elections a more moderate Republican could have won. So maybe this is something to do with that. If it's true that the teabaggers started out wanting to repeal the 17th Amendment, they've hardly got grounds for complaint.

    1. I don't know what their motivation is. They're so damn crazy it's really hard to tell. I'm pretty confident that the food stamp nonsense will not pass and hopefully it'll mean the end to any further political aspirations these morons have.

      I actually got into a bit of a tiff with this Stacey Campfield on a state rep's FB page (a Dem). Campfield is not only dumber than a bucket of rocks he's a nasty piece of work - vile, petty and just mean. He makes Chris Christie look and sound like a well bred southern gentleman!

  3. Wonderful, Leslie. As I said recently in a slightly different context, the sleeping giant of the American Left is awakening from a long and troubled slumber. Hang in there. Things will change. They've got to.


    1. OMG, Tom. Somehow your comment went to spam and I'm just now seeing it. I'm so sorry. This is what I get for not paying more attention to the shop. Anyway, I hope you're right. Somehow we have to light the fire under some Congressional Democrats or replace them.