As we celebrate our independence from tyranny, let us not forget those who still face political injustice, intimidation and voter manipulation. I wish I were talking about some far away land or a third world Country which we are always eager to compare ourselves with in order to show our political superiority. No my friends, political intimidation is not a thing of the past, but a living entity in Gaston County, North Carolina.
On Friday, July 2nd, two days before our Nation was set to celebrate its independence from all things politically oppressive and deceptive, Annette Carter, Democratic candidate for the NC state Senate seat in Gaston County, backed out of the race with physical pain and a heavy heart.
Annette entered the race with eyes wide open aware of the fierce fight over the open seat of current Democrat David Hoyle. The republicans smelled blood and like sharks, have been circling this Senate seat for several years now. Annette who is the current Gaston County School Board chair jumped in with an open heart and a dream to help Gaston County residents climb out of the depressive hole we have sunk into. She promised to focus on job growth, raising education standards, protecting the elderly and middle class as well as being fiscally responsible.
Miss Carter knew she was jumping into a bed of hot coals. On numerous occasions she confided in me that she knew the opposition would come after her with both barrels. She understood that the dirty politics and mudslinging which dominated the republican primary between Kathy Harrington and Wil Neumann was going to shift her way. She was prepared for that. She was prepared to defend her record of service; she was prepared to have to counter act rumors, misinformation and various dirty tricks. She was prepared to have people digging into her past trying to find some kind of dirt to stick onto her clean and honest reputation. What she was not prepared for was to have her safety threatened and her ability to adequately campaign diminished.
The Gaston Gazette reported it this way in its Saturday, July 3rd edition, “Gaston County school board Chairwoman Annette Carter said Friday that an injury would end her run for the county’s state Senate seat.
The Democratic candidate said she is dropping out of the race due to mobility problems stemming from a fall at her home. Carter slipped and fell after someone hurled a brick through a glass door on the side of her home May 21. A crumpled Carter for Senate campaign sign was found on the side porch.
The fall left her limping, and after doctors’ visits and physical therapy, she still experiences pain and difficulty walking.
“There comes a time in life when you simply can’t do the things you want to do,” Carter said in a prepared statement. “It would not be fair to conduct a campaign when I am not physically able to attend events and fully participate as a candidate should.” “.
The terror of waking up out of a sound sleep to the sound of a blaring alarm and then discovering broken glass on your sun room floor is terrifying enough, but the later discovered crumpled campaign sign on her front step makes the message all too clear. This was not some childhood prank. In spite of what some may think and what the other side says, Annette was a victim of political intimidation. Someone for whatever reasons wanted Annette Carter out of the race and sent a very clear and “intimidating” message to this mature, single woman residing in the country with no neighbors within sound or sight.
Don’t get me wrong, Annette Carter is no wall flower. She is perhaps one of the most vivacious and outspoken advocates for causes she believes in that one would ever have the pleasure to meet. She does not back down easily and welcomes a good clean fight based on the issues and facts at hand.
This was not a fair fight, nor was it a random act of violence. Political intimidation has occurred before in Gaston County and will again as long as its citizens do not stand up and say enough is enough. Annette Carter is a human being susceptible to the physical maladies of falling at her home during a violent act of vandalism and to the psychological effects which linger long after the sore bones and muscles heal. Annette simply did what most of us in her shoes would do, step aside.
That leads us to the bigger problem here. In a country as great as ours and in a County so rich with patriotism and the desire to protect our political process, how can political intimidation still be alive and well? We do not reside in a war torn country where the leaders have lost power and all legal systems are broke down. We do not vote in a society where ballots cast are tossed aside and those in charge of overseeing the election are bribed or working for an outside interest. We don’t have to run from armies wielding guns forcing those of us with opposing views to keep quiet or else. No, this is America where the blood, sweat and tears of generations of freedom’s pilgrims have blazed a trail of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For this act of cowardice and political intimidation to exist is downright disgusting and ought to make any proud American mad as hell.
Gaston County party chair, Bill Toole summed it up this way, ““She struggled with it, and we supported her,” Toole said. “It’s all about people first and politics second.”
The attack on Carter’s home could make good leaders reluctant to run for public office in Gaston County, Toole said. No arrests have been made in the May 21 incident.
“The long-term effect of something like this is other people out there are going to say to themselves, ‘Why should I put my family through that nonsense?".
So, as we celebrate this 4th of July, think not only of those in other places far and away struggling for equality and freedom, but also think of places right here at home. Places like Gaston County, North Carolina where unfortunately politics includes a little mudslinging and at times vandalism and political intimidation. Perhaps in all of our pomp and circumstance, in all of our back patting and flag waving we need to remember not only how far we have come, but how far we have yet to go.
Read the whole article in the Gaston Gazette: http://www.gastongazette.com/news/county-48733-problems-annette.html.
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