Bill Moyers on the Dark Money Assault on Democracy and How Racism Stills Drives Our Politics
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AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Bill Moyers, the legendary broadcaster and host of Moyers & Company. Earlier this month, his program, Moyers & Company, aired the documentary report, State of Conflict: North Carolina. He is the former host of Bill Moyers Journal. He has won more than 30 Emmy Awards. He’s also a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News. His most recent book is Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, as I hope it continues right here. Quite a report, and it isn’t even the whole thing. You go on in this report on the state of conflict in North Carolina to talk about the whole issue of voting rights. [Watch the documentary here, with full transcript published on AlterNet earlier this month].
BILL MOYERS: Yes, North Carolina now, because of this new far-right government—and these are not your father’s Republicans, they are really right-wing Republicans adhering to the fundamentalism of the right—they went after voting rights. It was one of the first objectives they fulfilled when they took power. And they now have the most restrictive voting rights in the country—a very complicated process of getting IDs that you have to have. They’ve redistricted in a way that packs African Americans into three districts, so that it’s hard to argue "one man, one vote" is happening down there. And the Justice Department has challenged the North Carolina state voting laws. But they are very restrictive, and they’re designed to perpetuate the Republican rule and to make it harder for the elderly, for the young, for minorities to vote.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the things they realized very quickly was that a lot of the voters who were voting early were voting Democrat, so they’re cracking down on the number of days that you can take—the number of days you can vote.
BILL MOYERS: Yes, there—for a while, it looked as if Mitt Romney had won in 2012, but when the early votes were finally counted, the margin went to—victory went to Obama. So, they don’t like that, and they’re doing away with early voting.
AMY GOODMAN: So, why did you focus on North Carolina, of all the states? Is it really so singular, so unique?
BILL MOYERS: Well, it’s very compact, what’s happening down there, and it’s very recent. This has happened to a considerable extent in Wisconsin. These are battleground states, where the right wing and the conservatives and the business and wealthy communities are collaborating to make sure they don’t lose again. North Carolina is an interesting state in and of itself. It’s a blue state, it’s a red state, it’s a purple state. Obama carried it by a whisker in 2008, Romney by a whisker in 2012. It goes back and forth. Jesse Helms, the, to use your term, legendary right-wing senator from North Carolina, was simultaneously in office with a progressive United States senator. It’s a purple state, really, that goes this way. So the Republicans, the right wing, are focusing on it. The Democrats ought to be focusing on it, but they’ve had their problems down there with corruption and scandals that played into Art Pope’s hands.
But there are three reasons for this story. One, it’s very clear what’s happening in North Carolina. Second, it’s a paradigm, a harbinger of what’s happening in other states. And then, most important, it really reveals what dark money is doing to American politics. So much of this money that has flowed into North Carolina comes from untraceable and unaccountable sources. They don’t know in North Carolina who’s funding the redistricting. They don’t know who’s funding these campaigns against their opponents. It’s coming from national sources, from Republican sources in Washington, from very wealthy people around the country. And that is, of course, flying in the face of the fundamental tenet of democracy, which is, we should know who’s buying our government.