Opinion: The future of North Carolina will be decided in November. Our choices could not be more different

Opinion: The future of North Carolina will be decided in November. Our choices could not be more different

Photo: Getty Images

By Andy Craighill-Middleton

June 25, 2024

What a month, North Carolina.

June stands for a number of things – LGBTQIA+ Pride, Men’s Mental Health Awareness, PTSD Awareness, and Juneteenth, among others. Unfortunately, it’s also been another month of candidates for public office behaving badly and speaking frankly about the damage they stand to do against our state.

Take Mark Robinson, for instance. In the last two weeks, our current Lieutenant Governor-turned-gubernatorial-candidate has appeared at an event sponsored by PreBorn,  a group with a clear anti-women agenda that opposes birth control and wants to ban the over-the-counter sale of birth control. They, like Robinson, also believe abortion should be off the table in almost all cases. 

He’s previously spoken at length about the “hazards” of everyday life, and promised to roll back rights for our state’s most vulnerable populations. We’ve even heard him talk about the “dangers” of public education, calling it “satanic” and accusing teachers of “indoctrination,” and it doesn’t stop there. In his own memoir, he stated he’d “work to keep history, science, and a number of other subjects out of first through fifth grade curricula.” 

On the Republican Council of State slate, we see that sentiment echoed broadly by other candidates, particularly with Michele Morrow, the GOP nominee for state superintendent and a mother who elected to homeschool her children out of fear rather than get involved in the very department she seeks to lead and then dismantle.

(Our state is one of the few in the nation with a Constitutionally-granted right to an education.)

The idea that the entire educational system designed to teach and guide children needs to be abolished is, quite frankly, absurd. It’s an opinion wrought out of fear, rather than any form of fact. Doing so would cause untold damage that we’d feel for decades to come. 

Speaking of economics alone, if our state lost the ability to educate our children, what happens? A lack of students able to attain college degrees, trade school certificates, or even high school diplomas would ripple up and down every county in this state, and leave our middle class floundering. Working class families would have to fight for jobs that may only pay low wages, as those slots are filled to overflowing with tragically undereducated young adults. Our medical system would take a hit, and we’re already facing numerous care shortages and rural hospital closures. We can already see a sliver of where it could go.

Unfortunately, the only blame for this lies squarely on the Republican Party stoking those fears and fanning the metaphorical flames of discontent across North Carolina. Conversations that could have once found common ground are more commonly filled with accusations and screaming matches, and somehow, this is supposed to be acceptable to the folks who live here. Somehow, this is supposed to support constituents, apparently by ruining their lives, businesses, and ability to thrive. 

The far-right reaches of the party have even brought forth concerning plans like Project 2025, which seeks to do away with the FBI, Department of Education, rework national health agencies on conservative and religious principles, reverse course on climate change, and more.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had and heard enough.

I’ve written before about the importance of human rights, and repeatedly about how our state deserves the best across any and all categories. I’m not unbiased myself, certainly – I’m the father to a wonderful toddler, an active volunteer across many realms, and as far as I can tell, the first openly transgender man running for Congress. I say all of this to tell you that I do believe there’s a way for us to build a better North Carolina, and a better, more civil future.

First of all, we’ve got to elect candidates that actually care about the populations they’re supposed to represent. We’ve heard plenty of rhetoric and promises from one side of the aisle, but they lack something important: respect for the people they’re talking to. 

Even Sunday, former President Trump stated that he felt that ‘suicide over Biden’ was a preferred way to go for his supporters should he lose the election, indicating that their lives only have meaning if they’re still able to support his campaign and vast legal bills. Mark Robinson has called the Black community ‘slaves,’ discounting the fact that people can think for themselves and realize their situation on their own. 

Michele Morrow has called LGBTQIA+ people ‘satanic’, completely disregarding the fact that many of us have family members and friends in that community that we know and love; By trying to isolate those folks, we in turn would be isolating ourselves. The lack of respect or care for people is reprehensible.

Second, It’s important to genuinely look at the policies candidates are touting. North Carolina simply can’t survive policies that seek to cripple the institutions upon which we function. Candidates like Maurice “Mo” Green with proven track records can clearly show their process, and their own social media will tell you what they support. 

I know in my own campaign, we seek a certain level of intentionality with each of my posts and pieces. At the end of the day, I’m seeking to show people who I am and what I stand for, and do it in such a way that folks feel comfortable reaching out and asking questions if they have them. The current Democratic slate of candidates reflects this; we’re fortunate to have a number of very qualified, very passionate people who are running on a platform seeking to support our schools, our residents, and sensible policies that are a far cry from revenge tactics.

It’s time we step up and make sure we have a chance to implement those policies. In Washington, we can make sure money flows back to our state to raise teacher pay and school quality, rather than toss it aside. At the state level, we can make sure our districts are all funded, that community projects that benefit everyone can be seen to completion, and that folks have a say in how they’re governed. At the county level, electing the right candidate can be the reason your taxes get used to put in new sidewalks, parks, and things that directly benefit you. The entire political ecosystem has to work, though, and it’s currently under strain from the rapid descent into extremist views.

It’s often said, but your vote truly is your voice in this cycle. On one hand, we have the party of Project 2025, which seeks to dismantle systems and penalize folks for the crime of simply thinking differently. On the other, we’ve got a blue slate full of people in touch with their state and with the policy ideals to back it. As we head further into summer, I’d like to say we’re stronger than hate; America the Brave has no need to fear what we don’t know. We’ve just got to take our chance to prove it, while we can.

I strongly urge you to take the time to research, read, and choose the options that are best for our state on the whole. I and any other candidate in any other office would be grateful for it.


  • Andy Craighill-Middleton

    Andy Craighill-Middleton is a proud advocate and native North Carolinian running for the US House of Representatives in Congressional District NC-06. As a former marketing director, Democratic party officer, and current Rowan-Cabarrus YDNC leader, he seeks to promote a better life for Americans and compassionate, sensible legislation. When not working or volunteering, he can be found tending to his garden, three dogs, and toddler alongside his husband, Lloyd.

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