Change Begins in NC Homes. That’s Why We’re Launching ‘Cardinal Voices.’

In this May 2018 file photo, lawmakers and legislative employees watch the crowd grow outside of the North Carolina Legislative Building as educators gathered to protest education funding shortfalls. One of those shortfalls is at stake in NC's 30-year-old Leandro case concerning the chronic underfunding of rural eastern NC schools. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

By Billy Ball

June 2, 2021

A new project featuring local North Carolinians speaking directly to the local issues that matter to them. 

Spend a little time in Raleigh or in Washington, DC and you’ll notice something. 

The people of North Carolina aren’t there. It’s lobbyists, media, and policy wonks. Regular North Carolinians aren’t chatting up their representatives or senators in the hallways. They’re not speaking to the legislative committees that will create the policies that change their lives. They’re too busy for that, or they think the whole thing is a sham. They’re at home, working and caring for their families. 

We’re launching “Cardinal Voices” because we think talking about the good and the bad ideas in state and federal government with local people makes a difference. We want to put North Carolinians front and center talking about the burning issues in their communities. North Carolinians of all races, ethnicities, and beliefs are speaking. The folks up top just aren’t hearing them very well.

The problem is legislation in Congress or the NC General Assembly isn’t passed in a vacuum. It impacts you whether you note it or not. Good government listens. And good constituents speak. But that’s not often how it goes.

Policies tend to begin and end at the state or federal legislature, rather than at the homes, community centers, parks, places of worship, schools, and kitchen tables where they’re better off starting. Rather than in the homes of the people who put state and federal lawmakers in power to begin with.

They also tend to be created by policymakers who look just like me, a white man from a middle or upper-class family. There’s much more to North Carolina than that.

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Some ideas are good. Some are bad. But the bad ideas don’t often come to your attention unless they’re really bad, catastrophically bad, so bad you can’t possibly miss it. And the good ideas have a way of coming and going silently, because they make our lives a little easier.

It’s not the best system. And it’s not something we have to take as a fact of life.

Look for old-school op-eds from fresh voices you might not have met before. But we’ll also feature videos, recordings, photos, and anything else that gets the point across.

For instance, we’ll launch this week from a commentary from Greear Webb. If you haven’t heard of him, Greear launched two nonprofits for progressive advocacy while he was still in high school in Wake County. The Parkland shooting motivated him to action. Today, he’s a Morehead-Cain Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, and an emerging voice for racial justice in North Carolina. 

We’ll feature strong, fresh voices just like Greear, and they’ll come from all over the state, from all walks of life. We hope you’ll find it inspiring, enlightening, and engaging. 

Thanks for reading, watching, and listening. And look for more “Cardinal Voices” in the days, weeks, and months to come via our Facebook, free newsletter, Twitter, and Instagram platforms. 

If you want to participate, if you have suggestions for the project, or if you simply want more information, feel free to reach out to us on our social platforms or write Cardinal & Pine Managing Editor Billy Ball at [email protected].


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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