Point of View

‘Moral Monday’ aka ‘Majority Monday’

July 25, 2013 

My wrists were red and sore when the cuffs came off. The detention officer said, “boy, yours were really tight.” I was among 84 North Carolinians who had been arrested and cuffed for exercising our constitutional rights at the General Assembly on a “Moral Monday.” We used civil disobedience to show our disapproval of Republican legislation. I was there because as a business owner I could afford the time, didn’t need the tax cuts and – this may surprise you – felt my views represented the majority of North Carolinians, both Democrats and Republicans.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory makes the case that calling the event “Moral Monday” implies that those with whom we disagree are immoral. I guess that’s a smarter tactic than mistakenly calling thousands of North Carolinians “outsiders” as he did recently. Some of the governor’s supporters also bristle at the name and have thrown around alternative terms like “Moron Monday” and “Money Monday.”

But perhaps the governor and I could agree to drop these subjective terms and re-christen the event with an objectively accurate name.

I propose giving it the nickname “Majority Monday” since polls over the past two months show that fewer than a quarter of voters support most of the Republican legislators’ actions and in many cases solid two-thirds majorities oppose them.

Republicans claim they are merely carrying out their campaign promises, but can that be true if:

• Only 13 percent support Republican plans to cut corporate and personal income taxes and raise the sales tax, but 68 percent of voters are opposed. (Remaining voters are counted as “not sure.”)

• Only 26 percent support the Republican denial of Medicaid coverage to half a million North Carolinians, but 56 percent oppose that.

• From 17 to 29 percent support the Republican move to allow concealed handguns either in bars, parks or college campuses. Majorities of North Carolina voters ranging from 65 percent to 73 percent oppose those misfires.

Overall only 20 percent of voters approve of the job the General Assembly is doing. And 56 percent of voters disapprove. Can these numbers be believed?

They come from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, which was rated highly by The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Business Insider and a Fordham University study as one of the most accurate swing state pollsters during the 2012 election.

But wait, here are more lopsided results.

• Only 10 percent support the Republican proposal to ring up a sales tax on groceries; 81 percent oppose it.

• Only 13 percent support the Senate’s tax plan and 21 percent support the House’s tax plan. A majority of North Carolina voters oppose the two plans by 68 percent and 55 percent respectively.

• Only 33 percent support the Republican plan to shrink the number of early voting days. A 59 percent majority opposes the reduction.

• Only 14 percent support the Republicans’ move to pull the plug on renewable energy; 73 percent of voters oppose that effort.

• Only 26 percent support the Republicans on dropping the Earned Income Tax Credit. But 61 percent of voters oppose that cut. I suspect that 61 percent group includes many – if not all – of the 64,000 veteran and military families who depended on that tax credit last year.

Yes, in a public protest like “Moral Monday” – or “Majority Monday” if you will – participants are mostly Democrats like myself. But in the privacy of their homes 63 percent of unaffiliated voters and 40 percent of Republican voters report their disapproval of the General Assembly’s caustic bills.

The Republican leadership has clearly swung to the right of North Carolina voters, even across party lines. Most Tar Heels sense the painful handcuffs Republican legislators are bringing their way. So can a protest movement representing a majority of voters stop them? We’ll know in 2014.

Frank Hyman lives in Durham,

owns a small business and has

held two local elected offices.

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