Voting for candidates running for office in Brunswick County’s cities and towns is a moral and personal imperative. Municipal elections are all about our well-being in its most personal and intimate form. Who are identified more closely with the decisions that affect our daily lives than the members of our local councils and commissions? Which of our neighbors is the most qualified to represent our hopes and beliefs about the future of the communities where we live?
But the upcoming municipals also have significance beyond where we live — and beyond Nov. 7.
Across North Carolina and the nation, MAGA Republicans are sacrificing our democracy and well-being on the altar of self-interest, greed, autocracy and fear-mongering. But they’re in charge now. As none other than the odious Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida recently proclaimed in Washington, “If you don’t think that moving from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement and where the power in the Republican Party truly lies, then you’re not paying attention.”
We’re paying attention, and it pains us. In Raleigh, our MAGA-dominated state legislature has adjourned, leaving behind a despicable collection of flotsam and jetsam that could — without a vigorous response from Democrats and independents — poison the quality of life in the Tarheel State for years to come.
It’s not just us who are deeply concerned. Representatives from the media, advocacy groups and residents throughout North Carolina are on record as stating this year of the MAGA GOP-led North Carolina General Assembly is the worst in modern state history. Here is a list of the most egregious Republican-approved laws, compiled by the non-partisan publication, NC Newsline:
An abortion ban that endangers the health, well-being and privacy of thousands of women
The latest in a series of laws that seize powers from the governor and hands them to Republican legislators
An aggressive and broad-based assault on democracy that discourages early voting and voting by mail, invites partisan advocates to wander around polling places and eavesdrop on private conversations, disenfranchises numerous citizens, keeps election inadequately funded, and makes GOP legislators the ultimate arbiter of state and local election board disputes
A series of cruel and mean-spirited attacks on our LGBTQ residents, including bans on health care for transgender youth — even when parents and doctors agree it is necessary
A law that invites censors to insert themselves into the curriculum decisions of public school professionals
Environmental law changes that eviscerate state regulations and give license to polluters
Then, just before they departed Raleigh, the GOP further undermined the tenets of democracy by designing in secret a set of one-sided, gerrymandered maps. These undemocratic maps portend the General Assembly will remain under an iron-fisted, veto-proof MAGA dictatorship for the remainder of the decade. The GOP’s new maps also set the stage for a likely swing in the makeup of the delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, discarding a 7-7 congressional delegation in favor of a lopsided and unrepresentative 10-3 count in favor of Republicans.
Sadly, the damage MAGA Republicans have visited on us will not dissipate any time soon. Until we have the will to replace current officeholders with responsible representatives in Raleigh and Washington, the pendulum cannot swing.
Reasonable candidates don’t grow on trees. They must be experienced, thoughtful and dedicated to the public good. That’s why we’re paying close attention to the municipal elections, where leadership at a level closest to us will be on display.
We can turn the tide for good government. We can closely monitor the activities of those who represent us at the local level. We can, in time, elect the best and brightest of them to higher office. Then, we can choose new candidates with the will to promote our collective well-being to take their place. We can — and have the power to — construct a pipeline to elect responsible officials at all levels of government.
The time to start is now.