October 28, 2016
This blog post originally appeared on AFL-CIO Now.
North Carolina, the beautiful battleground
North Carolina is a beautiful state. We’ve got mountains, beaches and the biggest battleground of the 2016 election. Here are five reasons why the outcome on Nov. 8 matters:
1. Win North Carolina and Wave Goodbye to Donald Trump: The battle for North Carolina could be the one that wins the electoral war for Hillary Clinton and saves the United States (and the world) from the unmitigated disaster that would be a Trump presidency. If Donald Trump loses North Carolina, his campaign for president is over.
2. Control of the U.S. Senate Could Come Down to North Carolina: As president, Hillary Clinton is going to need Democrats to control the U.S. Senate in order to introduce her legislative agenda and to confirm her appointments and nominations—especially nominations to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court. A victory for working people’s endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross would bring to an end the do-nothing, block-everything Republican Senate majority.
Ross has turned what many expected to be an easy re-election campaign for her Republican opponent, Richard Burr, into the most hotly contested Senate race in the country. A past director of the ACLU of North Carolina and a former state lawmaker in Raleigh, Ross has proven herself to be a savvy campaigner in a state with an increasingly diverse electorate turned off by years of legislative extremism and the toxic candidacy of Donald Trump.
3. Ending the Parade of “Worsts”: Since Republicans captured the governorship and used control over redistricting to gerrymander legislative super majorities in 2012, North Carolina has made news repeatedly for the worst reasons, passing laws and enacting policies regarded by many as among the most regressive, extreme and punitive in the nation:
- The worst voter suppression law, key provisions of which the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as racist.
- Cuts to unemployment benefits now among the worst in the nation.
- Three of the 10 worst congressional district gerrymanders, also struck down as racist (ditto state legislative districts).
- Eighth worst in the country for teacher pay.
- Fourth worst for having a dying middle class.
4. And Then There’s HB2: Whoever people thought North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was in his former political life—the LGBTQ community knew better than to call him a moderate—he showed his true colors by signing House Bill 2 (HB2).
HB2 requires transgendered men, women and students to ignore their gender identity and use public bathrooms matching the sex on their birth certificates, but its provisions went well beyond bathrooms. It invalidated every local non-discrimination ordinance in North Carolina—replacing them all with a statewide policy that notably does not include LGBTQ people and specifies its safeguards against sex discrimination apply only to “biological sex.”
HB2 went further, forbidding municipalities from requiring employers with whom they spend our tax dollars to pay living wages, offer paid leave, or not discriminate, and it dramatically restricted workers’ right to sue in state court if fired because of their religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.
The fallout from HB2 has cost North Carolina dearly. Millions upon millions of dollars in work and good-paying jobs have been lost and continue to be lost because employers like PayPal and Deutsche Bank, and organizations like the NBA, NCAA and ACC refuse to open business, do business, or hold events in our state.
5. North Carolina is the Future: North Carolina is the ninth most populous state in the country and is growing in political influence. Big wins in the state in November can set the stage for future wins in the voting booth and in the workplace. By building a movement here and organizing more working people into unions, we can advance policies to help working families and send more pro-labor representatives to Congress. And that’s good for all of us.
Check out the NC Labor 2016 Voter Guide for more info about the election here.