You know how everyone’s extended family has at least one raging drunk tucked into the mix? Who always totters around family gatherings, slurring their words, eating all the pinwheel sandwiches, and standing up and toasting at the most inopportune times, usually without their pants?
Well, I just saw mine on the news, and stared slack-jawed at the television screen.
And hung my head in shame, muttering, “Jesus. Get ahold of yourself!” as the newscast droned on about her latest antics.
But it’s not Aunt Patty making headlines tonight.
It’s my former home state: North Carolina.
Not only has North Carolina’s Republican majority routinely walked out of the Houses without their proverbial pants, but they seemed to have forgotten a little something else.
No, not the pantyhose tucked into their underwear. The Constitution.
With every slash the Republican majority makes to Medicaid, to voter rights, to LGBTQ rights, to women’s rights, to immigrant rights, to environmental protection, to religious freedom, North Carolina’s body politic is resembling a cadaverous stump.
Republican-authored legislation has been hemorrhaging minority rights at such alarming rates, it’s difficult to identify suitable tourniquets. But even when citizens apply pressure to quell the bleeding, they’re rewarded with handcuffs.
The most recent legislative lunacy evidences the callous disregard the Republican majority has for the rights of those “others” who don’t line their pockets with dirty money.
Who work and work and work for a better future, and are constantly feeling the swift breeze of so many doors slamming in their faces.
Who are just trying to get by.
Who just want a legal ID that reflects their gender identity.
Who just want to govern their own reproductive organs.
Who just want to marry the person they love.
Who just want to be acknowledged.
Who just want peace and balance, with a touch of order.
Who just want a state that takes into account all of its constituents, not just the wealthiest or whitest.
Before long, the newscast shifts to the weather, and I stare back down at the stack of papers on the cafe table, and think about our Disunited States.
How absurd it is that, after crossing state lines, the stories of minorities retaining civil rights read like chapters from The Lord of the Flies.
How foolish it is for there not to be blanket protections for all citizens–that gender identity, socioeconomic class, sex, and ethnicity are still such divisive topics, and often limit the rights extended to a state’s constituents.
It’s a sad time in our country when the drunk relative becomes the role model.
When a raucous few are rewarded for pouring them another, and the cab called by a concerned majority leaves empty.
When I don’t regret leaving a state I once loved.