The News & Observer opines that the broad coalition of protesters that assembled in Raleigh on Saturday represents mainstream North Carolina, not that the Republican-led legislature acknowledges it, or cares:
To see the long ranks of protesters was to wonder how much longer North Carolina’s Republican leaders can dismiss them as a rabble, as outsiders, as “takers,” as agitators, and not see them for who they are: The People. Their issues include labor conditions, pay for public employees, environmental protections, voting rights, fair taxation, help for the unemployed, gay rights, abortion rights and civil rights.
But another of their issues is one they hold in common: They feel they are not being heard. And the deafness of the state’s political powers is deliberate. Legislative leaders and the governor can’t hear above the sound of the corporate money that steers their agenda. And even if they could, they wouldn’t listen. The people in the streets holding signs and chanting are not people they consider “the mainstream” or “real Americans.”
Led by NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the Forward Together movement may be indigenous to North Carolina, but Saturday's mass rally showed that its influence is expanding. Moral Monday protests are starting in Georgia and South Carolina. Over two dozen states sent marchers to Raleigh on Saturday -- from neighboring southern states to New York, Florida and Missouri.
Not just a coalition of single-issue groups, this fusion movement recognizes that their varied interests are connected in their struggle against the "extremism" of North Carolina's General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory. Forward Together set five demands for 2014:
• Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability;
• Provide well-funded, quality public education for all;
• Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice;
• Address inequalities in the criminal justice system;
• Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.