Lynn Parramore: The Secret of the Sauce: What Democrats Need to Know About North Carolina’s Kick-Ass Populism

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet contributing editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore. Originally published at AlterNet.

A native explains how the people of North Carolina have been giving hell to fatcats for over 300 years.

Stretching past scrubby pines and open fields where tobacco once grew, Highway 70 East guides you to a low-slung, red-roofed building where the scent of smoldering oakwood hangs thickly in the air. You have reached Wilber’s, the High Church of old-school barbecue, where whole hogs are slow-cooked over coals, doused with red-pepper vinegar and served to locals with tar-thick accents.

On the wall hangs a shrine to a beloved politician, whose death has erased neither his legacy nor the fond feelings of the octogenarian owner. The man remembered is not Jesse Helms, the segregationist right-winger who symbolized North Carolina to the rest of America for over a quarter of a century.

The face you see is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Taxer of fatcats. Regulator of banks. Friend of the worker and the farmer. Checker of unchecked capitalism.

Proprietor Wilberdean Shirley is a diehard Democrat, and his love for FDR is not unusual in these parts, where old-timers remember how power lines dragged through swamps and rivers brought refrigerators, electric stoves, washing machines, and water pumps. They recall the radio crackles that wafted the outside world into farmhouse kitchens, drawing city and country values closer together. FDR’s programs set the stage for military bases, public health triumphs, accelerated industrialization and desperately needed jobs.

My granddaddy, a tobacco farmer, particularly prized his “two seater” – a deluxe outhouse constructed courtesy of the Civilian Conservation Corps to combat the hookworm scourge.

The Jesse Helms cartoon of North Carolina is familiar: an anti-union, private enterprise-worshipping backwater where racism and religious bigotry run amok. And it has its truth, evidenced in last spring’s vote in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, punctuated by hate-bombs from preachers who suggested, among other things, that homosexuals be left to die behind electric fences.

But there’s a special ingredient in Tar Heel politics that the state’s establishment – first, wealthy planters, and later, industrialists and corporate titans of the New South – have repeatedly ignored at their peril.

Unique in Dixie, North Carolina has a populist tradition going back to the 1670s, when rebels led by John Culpeper reacted to the proprietary governor’s attempt to enforce the restrictive British Navigation Acts by tossing him in prison and setting up their own legislature, which lasted two years. With a kick as potent as red-pepper vinegar, this insurgent current has risen up again and again to punish elites who overplay their hands. If your political coalition fails to reckon with its enduring power, you’ll end up teetering between chronic instability and full-throated conservative reaction.  

The Democrats may want to ponder this history to avoid repeating a very old mistake as they roll into Charlotte for September’s nominating shindig.

Ornery, Radical Tarheels

Radicals found their way to the home state of Billy Graham and Jesse Helms from the very beginning. They set up camp mostly in the interior, where they vexed the Anglican aristocrats of the Tidewater region. Attracted by the colony’s religious freedoms, Quakers preaching non-violence and spiritual equality between men and women quickly seized the political reins. Aghast, the Anglicans eventually wrestled them back, but until 1800 the Friends were pretty much the only organized religion around, with the exception of Moravian dissenters who shockingly practiced common ownership and profit-sharing.

The Anglicans eyed these and other backcountry “enthusiasts” with alarm. Might these nonconformists take to calling out abuses of power?

They might, and they did. The Occupiers of their day, Protestants of various “New Light” sects rebelled against the royal government’s inequitable taxation in the War of Regulation. In the year 1770, in a dress rehearsal for the Revolution, a mob snatched a corrupt county officer by the heels and dragged him down the stairs, bouncing his head on every step. They chucked another from the window of his house.

The planter class kept the upper hand, but even its stars had to bow to the state’s radically contrarian sentiments. The revolutionary hero Thomas Burke asserted both strong resistance to arbitrary power and ornery individualism when he insisted that the Articles of Confederation expressly recognize state’s rights. Later, North Carolina’s suspicions of manipulative elites helped make it the second last state to accept the Constitution.

Many a Tar Heel felt equally ambivalent about the Confederacy. The state was the last to secede, and western farmers, rightly suspecting that the conflict was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight, took to draft dodging, desertion, tax evasion, and even open support of the Union. In the east, Henry Berry Lowry, a Native American “free person of color,” led an outlaw gang that raided plantations and launched guerilla attacks on the militia. The legendary “Robber Chief” continued to steal from the wealthy after the Civil War, concluding that the new Reconstruction Republican government could not be trusted any more than the one it replaced.

Insurgents v. the Establishment

During the Civil War, soldiers on both sides took turns looting John Green’s little factory in Durham and got a taste for his “bright leaf” tobacco. In the decades after, Washington Duke and his son Buck blazed their way to a near worldwide monopoly of the tobacco business. Spreading out alongside the mighty “Tobacco Trust,” a network of railroads linked the state to the rest of the nation. Commerce began to transform North Carolina’s agricultural, rural profile into an industrial and urban one, with political power shifting from east to west as towns exploded along the tracks from Raleigh through Greensboro, Winston-Salem to Charlotte.

The high-handed rapacity of the corporate chieftains reminded many North Carolinians of the old slave owners. As farm prices buckled and industrial conflicts spread, the spirit of John Culpeper and the Regulators reawakened. First the Knights of Labor and then the Populist Party traumatized the state political establishment.

In the mid-1890s, a “fusion” ticket of populists and Republicans, with key support from black leaders, won the legislature and elected not only the governor, but both U.S. senators. Recoiling in horror, conservative Democrats rallied a vast umbrella coalition of planters and industrialists to crush the insurgency with a mix of violence and bile-spitting racist appeals in the election of 1898. The Republican Party was reduced to a pathetic shell as the winners disenfranchised nearly all blacks and most poor whites through poll taxes, grandfather clauses and bare-knuckles brutality. By 1924, voter turnout, which stood at 85.6 percent in 1896, had plummeted to 35.8 percent in the presidential elections. In state elections, the Republican Party all but vanished. Democratic primaries were the only real contests. [See: Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson, Voting in American Elections: The Shape of the American Political Universe Since 1788 (Academica Press, 2009)].

But even this brutal regime could not survive without tolerating strident insurgent voices. The first wave of critics was heavily compromised by the Jim Crow system, but its searing indictments of the new corporate elites were often startlingly direct. State Supreme Court Chief Justice William Clark supported women’s suffrage and – very cautiously — black economic empowerment; battling the railroads and the Dukes’ tobacco trust as he issued pointed calls for “socialized democracy.” Even Josephus Daniels, whose Raleigh News and Observer stoked the white supremacy that helped conservative Democrats beat back the Populists, filled his paper with reports of the Dukes’ tax dodging and mistreatment of farmers.

Once again North Carolina politics began to resemble a clash of two powerful weather fronts. Progressives grew bolder in the twenties, at first in the enclaves of the state’s colleges. At Wake Forest, liberal president William Louis Poteat mounted a vigorous defense of evolution.  The University of North Carolina blossomed into a major intellectual center, as historian Frank Porter Graham and others encouraged the first stirrings of a revived labor movement. Fearful of another populist upsurge, major East Coast institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation lent support to these islands of enlightenment. Their graduates sprang onto the national literary scene heaping scorn on southern backwardness — Thomas Wolfe in Look Homeward Angel and Wilber J. Cash in his classic The Mind of the South.

Appeals to economic fairness and mistrust of moneymen were clearly appealing to ordinary North Carolinians. But the old order had a significant advantage: It was the old order. When country folk listened to radical speakers, they heard religion ridiculed, patriotism blasted and racial equality proclaimed. Talk of treason and atheism alienated people who lacked basic necessities and wanted to hear about how to improve their welfare.

In May of this year, when the 93-year-old Billy Graham declared from his mountaintop retreat near Asheville that God did not wish gays to marry, his call was duly heeded. So it went in the ’20s, when evangelicals aligned with the conservative Democrats cautioned rural people to reject the “pinkos,” organizers and evolutionists in favor of spiritual salvation. 

In 1928 the Democratic Party monolith finally cracked when conservative leader Senator Furnifold Simmons backed Republican Herbert Hoover instead of the Catholic, anti-Prohibition Al Smith. His apostasy cost Simmons his iron grip on the party, and soon a Democratic faction led by textile magnate O. Max Gardner emerged to challenge the old guard. Political scientist V.O. Key described this new current as “Progressive Plutocracy.” Some of its progressivism reflected business desires for cautious modernization, but much stemmed from the realization that power depended on at least lukewarm support from the real progressives.

The New Deal and Beyond

When the Great Depression struck, evangelical defenses of the old order palled in the face of farm bankruptcies and soaring unemployment. The Roosevelt administration’s relief efforts and push to modernize the South during World War II galvanized more liberal Democrats like W. Kerr Scott, a pro-Truman New Dealer who defeated the Progressive Plutocrats in the 1948 governor’s race. He appointed Frank Graham, by then the president of UNC, to fill the senate term left open by the death of the incumbent.

Graham narrowly lost his effort to win reelection in his own right in an epic red-baiting battle featuring a young Jesse Helms enlisted on the other side. Graham’s defeat and the labor movement’s failure to organize the South put the latter-day incarnations of the Progressive Plutocrats back in the saddle. But the Holy Grail of power was out of reach without genuine progressives. Garnering support from eastern liberal foundations, the more progressive parts of the national Democratic Party, and eventually key civil rights activists, these business Democrats pushed back against reactionary forces.

In the ’50s and ’60s, leaders like Luther Hodges and Terry Sanford championed industrial development and investments in education and various social projects. Their records, especially Hodges’, were hardly stellar, but these men refused to stoke the racial violence breaking out in other parts of the South. The business moguls who supported them were shrewd enough to see that having North Carolina burn like Mississippi would be inconvenient for the bottom line.

Progressive Christians in the state following a social gospel tradition of inclusiveness and equality picked up the thread of religious dissent. In 1958, the liberal firebrand W.W. Finlator led Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist to embrace all races. Over a tenure that stretched into the 1980s, he gave passionate sermons calling for racial equality, women’s rights and relief for the poor that often landed on local editorial pages. The church’s support for gay marriage appalled the Southern Baptist Assembly, which expelled it in 1992. But today a lesbian co-pastor leads Pullen, which defies the state’s Billy Grahams from its post at the edge of North Carolina State University.

By the end of the ’60s, Tar Heels seemed to be casting away the millstone of segregation. North Carolina became the poster-state of the modern South, bursting with pride in its desegregated schools, enviable higher education system and high-tech industries. The Research Triangle area, boasting more Ph.D.s, scientists and engineers than any comparable region in the country, became a kind of Cambridge-in-Tobaccoland. By the early ’80s, the state’s eighth-grade history textbook unabashedly embraced evolution and racial equality and had my class of 12-year-olds cheerfully pronouncing the word “ol-i-garch” as we read of the state’s 300-year battle against backwardness.

But North Carolina’s business-led Democratic Party was in deep trouble. Conventional wisdom ascribes this to the race issue. Race assuredly played a major role, but its workings were conditioned by a fundamental dilemma arising from tax policies favored by the wealthy. In a twist that would have made the Regulators reach for a pitchfork, business Democrats rapidly shifted state tax burdens from the rich to the poor between 1957 and 1977. 

When expenditures were new and relatively small, the sheer novelty of decent education and other public goods attracted widespread cheering. But as mounting bills were handed to those who could least afford them, the Democrats realized too late that they had given the Republicans an opening. Trolling for white votes to build national Republican majorities, first Richard Nixon and then Ronald Reagan made common cause with Jesse Helms, who guided the new course of reactionary Republican politics with unflinching purpose.

The new climate made things much harder for liberal Democrats. In his losing 1984 senate race against Helms, Governor Jim Hunt feverishly courted bankers and multinationals, hoping that talk of economic growth would drown out the Republican conversation on abortion and homosexuality. That his “business-friendly” tax policies were hostile to struggling Tar Heels was plain, especially to the blacks and liberal whites who had helped his campaign. In the aftermath of the defeat of Hunt and other Democrats, pollster William Hamilton found that by a two-to-one margin, North Carolinians wanted to abolish the regressive sales taxes and keep taxes on corporations. Two years later, Democrats in the state legislature did just the opposite.

They quickly drowned in their own snake oil.

To Be, Rather Than to Seem

Which brings us to the present conundrum, reflected vividly in North Carolina’s motto, Esse quam videri, which means, “To be, rather than to seem.” It is a sentiment the Democrats might reflect upon as they study the electoral map.

Four years ago, reeling at the financial collapse, Tar Heels astounded the nation by electing Barack Obama, making him the first Democrat to carry the state in a presidential election since 1976 — and certainly the first black. For a moment, it seemed that the Democratic Party might reclaim its heritage as the party of egalitarian opportunity.

It was not to be. The Wall Street-friendly centrism of the current White House has rankled in a state where folks have little patience for the rich man’s tricks.

North Carolina’s per capita income has been falling steadily for the last decade relative to the rest of the country. 2008 accelerated the pace of the plunge and recovery has been lackluster. And how have North Carolina Democrats responded to evaporating manufacturing jobs and the crushing devastation of the Great Recession? With little more than policies of cutting taxes and budgets. Their champions (I’m looking at you, Erskine Bowles) rush to rip the social safety net. They refuse to admit that their favored trickle-down strategy in the face of globalization has left a desert of Walmart destitution.

True to the script of the state’s history, deep-pocketed conservatives like the Koch brothers and Tar Heel tycoon Art Pope have capitalized on this mistake made by Democrats. They know that state legislatures can be bought on the cheap, and so they spurred the Tea Party movement that helped the GOP take control of the General Assembly in 2010, whence it set about reversing national healthcare reform, curtailing reproductive rights, restricting immigration, and shoving gays back into the closet. (The influence of the Kochs on state politics has been so pervasive it has just been satirized in the new Will Farrell movie, The Campaign.)

But the Republicans’ hold on power is far from secure. The state’s changing demographics, bringing in more people of color, bode ill for the GOP. Frustrated by economic stagnation, bank bailouts and political corruption, Tar Heel voters, like those elsewhere, eye both parties with disgust. The Democrats still hold a registration lead in this swing state, despite falloff in others.

Tar Heel populist voices have hardly fallen silent. In late spring, protesters greeted the state legislature banging pots to announce their fury at budget cuts and unemployment. But can the national Democrats hear them? The choice of a slick banking town known as the “Wall Street of the South” to host their convention certainly argues for deafness. The city has long been held in suspicion by the rest of the state. I grew up in Raleigh, the state capital, and considered Charlotte to be almost a foreign zone, filled with banksters and sterile office buildings and golf courses. “A tight, white world,” as one friend put it recently.

Bank of America may be Charlotte’s economic center, but the foreclosure-happy, price-gouging, job-slashing avatar of Too Big to Fail increasingly looks like a national dead-end to most people. Obama is scheduled to accept his party’s nomination at Bank of America Stadium from the corporate-friendly centrist Bill Clinton as millionaires in skyboxes peer on. Such a scene could hardly be better suited to stir up John Culpeper’s ghost. The Democrats are hoping that giving populist Elizabeth Warren a key speaking slot will help deflect some of the ire, but there are signs that Culpeper’s ghost won’t be so easily appeased. On May 9, Occupiers marched on BofA headquarters – and they promised to come back in September, despite frantic efforts by the city to curb demonstrations. Unions, outraged by the choice of a city lacking unionized hotel workers, are also threatening to hold protests.

The Democrats’ faith in Mammon easily surpassed the intensity of their populist urges when, after proclaiming that their convention would eschew million-dollar donations, they allowed local organizers to do just that by forming the New American City fund to handle donations from the likes of Duke Energy and Bank of America to put on lavish and no doubt tax-deductible parties.

In a spirit of high pandering, the Democratic Party has selected three official barbecue sauces for its Charlotte extravaganza. Such ignorance of local tradition has already played to comic effect, beginning with Michelle Obama’s praise of Charlotte as a place for “great barbecue,” which is, of course, nonsense (the state’s best ‘cue is found elsewhere). North Carolinians recognize only two types of barbecue sauce: 1) the red-pepper vinegar dominant in the east (considered by many to be the only sauce; and 2) the sweeter, tomato-based variety favored in Lexington, in the west. To these two indigenous sauces the Democrats have added a third, “official” sauce, a mustard-based, South Carolina product that ranks just above radiator drippings in Tar Heel estimation.

You could argue that there is a third sauce in North Carolina, more to do with the stuff sold in bottles at the supermarket and labeled “Heinz” – a smooth, insipid, fake-tasting variety we might call “To Seem Rather Than To Be” sauce.” Slathering on this particular condiment is likely to gain the Democrats little traction in the state where the tradition of popular rebellion is more than 300 years old.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. craazyman

    that was good but it was too long.

    I don’t know how somebody can choose between the eastern sauce and the wesern sauce. Both are awesome. How can anybody take sides?

    Just thinking Carolina pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw make my mouth water, even at 5:50 am on a Sunday. Even with that little piggie antidote from a few days ago. The thing is already dead, so it’s too late to worry.

    How could they be so stupid to use B of A stadium. It just cracks me up. What a bunch of morons. What’s Elizabeth Warren supposed to do? She’s like a female version of the earnest dude who knocks on your door with a Bible in hand to bring you the good news. I’m in the middle of reading it myself. I’ll figure out on my own, thanks. This election will be a hard fought contest of total apathy.

    Who’ll vote for either of these glad-handed money-puppets? Not me. Who’ll even watch this sh-t on TV? Isn’t there a Star trek rerun marathon on or something? If not, maybe there’s a test pattern! Or if not, just the screen itself with the TV turned off. At least you won’t be looking at bullsh*t.

    1. scraping_by

      That was good but it stopped.

      Dig in the remainder bins for a good book and only come up for coffee refills and to post. My current favorite is The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street by John R Talbott. I’m only up to #52 (The Federal Reserve works for average Americans and is concerned with keeping the economy growing and vibrant) but then, I’m savoring slowly.

    2. F. Beard

      I’m in the middle of reading it myself. I’ll figure out on my own, thanks. craazyman

      Good for you! If only more did.

  2. russell1200

    Culpepper’s Rebellion is pretty much taking place at the same time as a whole series of disruptions that include Bacon’s Rebellion, and King Philip’s War. The one common factor in all the viollence was the overreach of the local oligarchs. In the case of Bacon’s Rebellion you had the local small farmers, and the indentured servants combining to protest against the corrupt rule of the local oligarchs.

    As Bacon’s rebellion was in Virginia in 1676, it doesn’t seem fair to say that North Carolina was unique in its rebellious-populist tradition.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think if we had 50 posts, one for each state, we’d find many more than one history of rebellion that’s been disappeared, and many more than one local cuisine that the national parties don’t know about. (As a commenter said recently, it’s the essence of the global elite not to be from anywhere).

    2. scraping_by

      You’ve put your finger on one of the main themes of American history as taught – that populist uprisings didn’t happen, and if they did, they weren’t widespread.

      Class violence, especially the bosses shooting uppity labor, isn’t part of The American Story, at least not as told in the public schools.

  3. jake chase

    Having lived in eastern North Carolina during much of the last decade, I see too much obesity and too few signs of intelligent life. The best things about the State are the pervasive civility and the gardens. But people here are stuck in a hopeless individualism. Most keep knocking their heads against the wall, expecting the wall to crack. Too many seem to give up and balloon to four hundred pounds. A trip to the local emergency room will tell you more about what life here is like than this romantic history essay. As a country we are in deep trouble if life elsewhere is chugging along in the same vein.

    1. F. Beard

      I do recall hearing about a lot of pig raising in N. Carolina.

      But hey, the Austerians and the food speculators should get the population down to fighting weight, eh? And wish they hadn’t?

    2. Greg Taylor

      Yeah, the obesity problem is bad here in NC – even among college students. Especially bad in rural and poor areas. Guess we’re not known as the buckle of the stroke belt for nothing.

      When I moved here 25 years ago, if you wanted a voice in city politics you needed to vote in the Democratic primary – and that meant declaring yourself a Democrat. Times have changed.

      Coming from Ohio, NC culture is a bit of an acquired taste – especially down east. There are plenty of smart people here but the natives seem to have been taught not to show it – that pervasive civility you mentioned gets in the way.

      1. LucyLulu

        With a dose of poverty to amplify the effects of the above.

        At one time in history, obesity was the disease of the elite. Members of royalty and the aristocracy were most often obese. Now it has become the disease of the poor. The wealthy have very low incidences of obesity compared to other socioeconomic classes. Think about it. How many rich people can you think of who are overweight?

        Social evolution. Ain’t it grand?

  4. JEHR

    We all should be so aware of our local history. If we were, it would not be so easy to be fooled by the oligarchs.

  5. barrisj

    I’m afraid Ms Parramore glosses over the influence of Art Pope and like-minded wealthy and influential rainmakers in NC. The New Yorker had an in-depth article on Pope last October, and reading that it is impossible to minimise the effect of reactionary Big Money to turn a state legislature into the 1%er’s plaything. Whatever streak of “people’s populism” still exists in NC, Pope and his ilk continue to dominate state politics.

  6. Wat Tyler

    Thank you Lynn. This post might be a bit detailed for some but ,as one who also grew up in Raleigh (Broughton class of ’60) and would sled down the Josephus Daniel’s house front yard when it snowed (I lived about 2 blocks away on the “poor side” of Harvey street), this state history was also the history of my family. My Father worked for the old Seaboard RR and was a union organizer in the 30’s.

    A couple of comments:

    – You mentioned the bitter election of 1898. In Wilmington where I now live, a majority Black population elected a Republican biracial city council which led to the only military coup in American history.

    – The battle between Jesse Helms and the liberal Raleigh News and Observer was legendary and was the genesis (or at least one) of the “liberal media” line of attack so beloved by the right-wing. Not much has changed in 50 years. A Helms editorial on WRAL-TV (he was a vice president) then would sound modern with “communist” replaced by “socialist” or “liberal”.

    – I don’t give the President much chance to win NC again. Whatever you see in the polls add 3% to the Republicans – polls always undercount the conservative trailer park population.

    From one Tar Heel to another – thanx again.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The detail in this article is to savor. It’s not too long for me, any more than a fine multi-part meal is too long.

      And the point on the sauce at the end: What a palate cleanser!

  7. Justicia

    Great post. I’d love to read more regional reports like this one on NC. Being an NY provincial (who’s planning to retire in the South), I’m fascinated by the progressive political history of the region.

    Several years ago I gave a lecture at the Keenan-Flagler business school at UNC. I had dinner in the (very good) restaurant of my hotel. Over at the next table sat a group of men and one woman. I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation and it made my head spin. The men were congratulating the woman on her “marriage” to her lesbian partner. Well shut my Yankee mouth. I could hardly believe my ears.

    1. ArchLover

      I would not be so surprised if I were you. The Research Triangle, with all of its colleges and universities, is a particularly liberal area of North Carolina (look at a county map showing the breakdown of voting for the gay marriage amendment – supporters of the amendment really didn’t even bother campaigning here). Coming from a liberal family in the Northeast and having lived in Boston for most of my adult life, Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Durham is one of the few areas I can comfortably live in with my kind of politics and opinions.

  8. LucyLulu

    ” Unions, outraged by the choice of a city lacking unionized hotel workers, are also threatening to hold protests.”

    Until recently, I didn’t know that NC had any unions. I thought maybe they were illegal or something. Anyways, I looked it up. The DNC chose to hold their convention in the state with the lowest union membership of all 50 states. (But hey, Charlotte IS Wall Street of the South.)

    Given that, union leaders are upset about no union hotel workers? When are the unions going to realize they’ve been dissed?

    1. Greg Taylor

      Public sector unions are illegal in NC. We’re also a right-to-work state. For the few unions that exist, there is no compulsion to join. Didn’t realize we were at the bottom of the union participation heap though. Usually we can count on being on top of SC.

  9. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Originally from Southeast Charlotte, as the second type of Faulknerian exile, I felt a twinge reading Ms. Parramore’s piece and could almost smell the tang of woodsmoke as the pig spiraled on the spit. And we mustn’t forget that strain of gracious North Carolina nobility, civility and honor embodied by the likes of native son Sam Ervin, who chaired the Watergate committe and his grandson, Sam Ervin the III, who made a precedent-setting First Amendment decision with regard to Prior Restraint in INQUISITION vs. City of Charlotte. May the individualism mentioned above fan the flames of vigorous and righteous dissent so painfully missing from national fora.

  10. Mike

    Excellent piece!

    Too bad everything in it will land you in prison for no charges except “tarheel terrorism.” The South sounds like an enemy combatant to me, all that remains is the Money-Congress Inc to take away everything “for your own good.”

    What a fucking disgrace the US has become. In reading this it is painful that the spirit of fighting against corruption and fraud-capitalsm has been neutered and thrown to the dogs of New York. The same dogs that absolutely caused every bit of current hardship. Not one thing is left to chance. Disgusting.

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