Waves of liberal protest are rippling across the South as a newly energized base—fueled by the momentum of the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina—are declaring to the largely Republican establishment that they will no longer be ignored.
Thirty-nine protesters were arrested at the capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday during a raucous protest against the GOP-led effort to prohibit Medicaid expansion in the state. In South Carolina, 17 demonstrators were also arrested at the Columbia state house in the third weekly demonstration against lawmakers’ refusal to accept federal health care funding.
“The movements are rare stirrings of impassioned, liberal political action,” writes Herbert Buchsbaum at the New York Times, “in a region where conservative control of government is as solid as cold grits and Democrats are struggling for survival more than influence.”
The focus of these demonstrations was health care, but the rhetoric of those protesting touched upon a wide swath of issues, from education to voting rights to women’s health. Spinning off from the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina—which organizes weekly demonstrations and grew into a massive march of more than 80,000 people last month—the demonstrators are borrowing the notion of morality- and agenda-based protests, including issues that resonate with the poor and minority populations in the South.
“We are at the beginning of a new Southern strategy,” said Tim Franzen, the lead organizer behind Moral Monday Georgia, which held its first protest in early January. “The changes we need to make in Georgia to transform the state are going to take years. But with the changing demographics of the South, our victory is inevitable. This train has left the station.”
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