And we're off! 🚀

The official launch of Carolina Forward was huge. Now comes the hard part.

We knew the launch was going to be big when Clay weighed in. 🤗

Our official launch of Carolina Forward this past week involved a press release, a big email push, and social media out the wazoo. So, how’d we do?

The big launch is behind us now, and we’re off to a strong start.

Now comes the hard part.

Let’s talk about values.

Carolina Forward is fundamentally focused on values. Specifically, progressive values.

The preponderance of real power in North Carolina is located in our legislature, and that leadership has led our state badly astray. A decade of radical right-wing governance has shredded our state’s unemployment safety net, left hundreds of thousands without affordable healthcare, stripped out funding from the public education system, and hollowed out core functions of our state’s capacity to govern.

More fundamentally, the movement right-wing leaders of our state have debased North Carolina’s system of government. Their hyperpartisan gerrymandering, which makes it all but impossible to lose, makes a cheap mockery of our democracy. Between bigoted and racist legislation, blatant public corruption and sheer dirty-trick gutter politics, the last decade of Republican leadership has made North Carolina politics a meaner, cheaper and nastier business.

This isn’t a partisan divide. It’s a values divide. Progressive leaders need to explain what we stand for again. All the policies are downstream of that.

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Progressives need to stand up for justice again.

Rural broadband - Rural North Carolinians are being deprived of their fair share of our state’s economic growth. One contributing factor is the atrocious state of rural broadband. Among Republican leaders’ first priorities upon winning power in 2011 was to ban local governments from setting up their own broadband services where private operators refused to. We hear a tremendous amount of hand-wringing about this issue today, despite the fact that a big, obvious answer is right there: just let local governments step in where private operators won’t. AT&T and Spectrum hate that idea, because they’d have to compete, which is why they donate heavily to Republican candidates who will stop it from happening. This is a justice issue.

Wages - Hourly workers in North Carolina are being deprived of their fair share by a criminally low minimum wage. North Carolina’s minimum wage is only $7.25/hr, and hasn’t changed in over a decade. That’s criminal. Volumes of research, and the experience of dozens of states, shows that raising the wage directly benefits working families with little or no adverse economic impact - and, in fact, can boost economic activity. This is a justice issue.

Unionization - North Carolina is a "right-to-work” state, meaning that it’s difficult for employees to unionize and demand better wages and working conditions from employers. The big business lobby fights fiercely to protect “right to work” statutes, because unions threaten their power over employees. But the evidence is very clear: unions benefit employees, and result in higher wages and better conditions. In this economic climate of enormous and increasing corporate power, North Carolinian workers deserve the right to collectively bargain with employers. This is a justice issue.

Economic justice isn’t the only type that’s important. Housing equity is vital too. Racial justice is vital. Environmental justice is vital. Educational equity is vital. Each of these, and more, intersect in a million different ways. And where they intersect becomes the quality of life that North Carolinians can expect.

On the right, there is a great deal of talk about “freedom,” which they define more often than not as the freedom from positive goods: the freedom not to have healthcare; the freedom not to bargain for higher wages; the freedom not to enjoy public goods. It is a complete coincidence, we’re told, that these “freedoms” happen to align with the financial benefit of entrenched business interests.

Let us not only dismiss this hollow definition of “freedom,” but reclaim the language of justice. Because there is no freedom without justice, and the other side cannot substantively talk about justice. Healthcare is freedom. Education is freedom. Housing is freedom. Wages and jobs and economic prosperity begets freedom. And justice is how we all realize these goals.

This is what we’re going to talk about, and advance, at Carolina Forward. Are you with us?

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