THE UK VOTES TO LEAVE THE EU: MY PERSPECTIVE

Charlotte, NC, June 24, 2016—Tonight, the news from London saddens me, although I feel excited to hear it live on BBC radio, first over the BBC channel on SiriusXM satellite radio, then in the BBC broadcast on WFAE, FM public radio (NPR affiliate, Charlotte, NC). It is already early morning in London.
     People in the United Kingdom (UK) have voted to leave the European Union (EU), according to the call of the BBC. The UK government has not declared a winner or loser, officially, yet, however. According to the BBC, various major newspapers in Europe have followed the lead of the BBC and called it for the “Brexit” side, or the leave side, in their morning headlines.
     Although I supported the remain side, the side to remain in the EU, out of a spirit of internationalism, I respect and affirm the result of the democratic vote, the referendum, on this issue. As a socialist, I champion democracy, as a value, and fundamental to that principle is the necessity of accepting and respecting the outcomes and results of a vote. Also, the fate and direction of each European country, including the UK, is entirely up to the people in that country, I believe. Therefor, although I have an opinion (and my side lost), that fact does not matter. What matters is what the voting public of the UK has said in their vote.
     My internationalist opinion arises out of my identity as an American, with the politics I already described. Also, I am Catholic, who, like so many American Catholics, forms my own opinion on the subject. I do not know, actually, any official opinion or opinions from the Catholic Church on the question, but that position would not matter to me. It would have made food for thought, though. My higher point here is that my political connection to the UK supersedes any religious connection I have. We are talking politics, not religion.
     Also, I am English, Scottish, and Italian by heritage and identity. I am witnessing the Europeans in Europe being… well… European. Historically, over the longer arc of history, Europeans have differences among… ourselves. Although Britain, i.e., “Brexit,” just voted to leave the European Union, no one can deny that the English, Scottish, Northern Irish, and Guernseyians, presumably, all of whom voted in the UK referendum, no one can deny their essential European identity. Ironically enough, voting to exit the EU only highlights their quintessential European identity.
     I would be a member of the Labour Party in England and Scotland. I think they should continue to support their internationalist vision for society, as a social democratic/democratic socialist party in Europe. Obviously, like all parties in the UK, the Labour Party should accept and respect the results of the referendum.
     It is a sad day for David Cameron, British Prime Minister. They say on the radio that he is done for, politically. His future in office is probably, as they say in America, toast. His side lost on the issue. In their parliamentary democracy, that is generally what happens over there, in the UK. Not in America, of course, but we are less democratic that way.
     Over here in America, however, we vote directly for the president. In the UK, they are less democratic, in that they do not vote directly for the Prime Minister. If I am not mistaken, they vote for their local Party member-of-parliament, who in their republican form of democracy, then chooses their Prime Minister along Party lines, and with any potential coalitions. A lot of people make a lot of hey out of our winner-take-all system, in America, but we do actually have a direct democracy structure for our direct vote for our president.
     Of course, General George Washington deferred on being our King, and insisted on some other office at the time. Hence, our directly elected President. In England and Scotland, there is still a King, and/or Queen, at this time… Queen Elizabeth II. Thank God.
     I am invested, emotionally, to find out what happens next in the UK government. Will there or will there not be a new election for Parliament, will David Cameron resign, and will they or will they not form a new government, with a new Prime Minister, a new Party, or not?
     Also, what will Scotland do? I am Scottish, myself, but I am wholly in favor of remaining with England in the UK. I know Scotland also lost the referendum, in terms of the popular vote. The City of London lost, also. I hope Scotland remains with England, and does not so something silly like leave and try to re-align with the rest of Europe. In fact, I hope Scotland does not even vote again on the subject of their national alignment.
      What of Europe? Well, if England follows the example of the nation of Italy, then maybe David Cameron has a chance. There, for example, in Italy, Prime Ministers have been known to re-take office. Who knows what that could mean for Mr. Cameron? He does not own any media outlets, so far as I know, but maybe he can pull off a political comeback after this electoral loss. Goodbye Europe, hello England and Scotland and, of course, hello Italy!
     Hooray for Europe, hooray for Britain, hooray for the vote, so sad for the results. All that we can do on the remain side, all we can do is accept the outcome, and move on.

—Nicholas Patti

Open Letter to the Editor: Voting Rights in NC vis-a-vis NY

Charlotte, NC/New York, June 20, 2016—I submitted the following letter to the editor to the New York Times, but it went unpublished. In the interest of balance, politically, let me weigh in on another issue in North Carolina politics, first. Although I wish to be counted against discrimination against LGBT people, I am against the bathroom law passed in the city of Charlotte, NC. On the photo-ID law in NC, however, I fall in on the mainstream, progressive side. My letter to the editor follows:

April 26, 2016

 

     With the ruling Monday by Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court in Winston-Salem, NC, the State of North Carolina fell backward from near the front of the line of the most advanced, progressive States on voting rights in the United States of America to near the end of the line, to one of the most reactionary in the country.

New York State moved up from significantly behind North Carolina on voting rights, for example, to far ahead of it.
North Carolina lost same-day voter registration and reduced the time for early voting, while New York has neither. On the more important policy of requiring a state photo-ID to vote, North Carolina fell far behind New York, which has no such provision. The federal judge upheld that plank of North Carolina’s 2013 law on Monday.
New York State is not without its problems, however. 126,000 Democratic voters were purged from the rolls, reportedly, in the New York State primary election in Brooklyn last Tuesday, according to the New York City Comptroller’s Office, Scott Stringer, as cited in the New York Post (4/25/2016).
Although North Carolina is no pariah with its softened photo-ID law, as compared and contrasted with New York State, with none, still the cause of voting rights in America would be best served by striking down the NC photo-ID provision. The NC law is next up for appeal in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia, according to The New York Times (4/26/2016).
Recently, North Carolina has been closely contested in U.S. Presidential elections, falling in line for President Barack Obama in 2008, and for the Republican, Mitt Romney, in 2012.
—Nicholas Patti

Poetry Open Mic & Launch of Charlotte Lit

February 27, 2016–A good poetry open mic happened on Wednesday, February 24th, at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, NC. Featured poets were Beth Ann Cagle and Anne Kaylor. One nice turn of phrase, from Ms. Kaylor’s latest book, Unwilling to Laugh Alone, was “…waiting for life to grow.” I enjoyed listening to the poems from both features. Also, I read two of my poems during the open mic section of the night.

Poet Anne Kaylor features at the open mic

In addition to this event, the launch of the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, or Charlotte Lit, happened on Friday, February 19th, in The Light Factory gallery in Charlotte, NC. Poet Linda Pastan read her work as the feature of the night. She was the only poet to read, and I liked her work.

Good luck Charlotte Lit!

–Nick Patti
Charlotte, NC

Redraw the 12th Congressional District in NC, but Allow a Delay

February 13, 2016–United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did not say, “no.” He did not say, “yes.” Instead, he said, “maybe.”
“Maybe” is what Roberts told North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and top state Republican officials when they asked him to sideline a federal court ruling and at least grant a stay on the federal court panel’s order. In that order, the three-judge, federal court panel ruled unconstitutional the boundaries of North Carolina’s 12th and 1st Congressional Districts, and gave the State until Friday, Feb. 19, to draw new districts, according to reports in The Charlotte Observer (2/11/2016, 2/10/2016).
Specifically, Chief Judge John Roberts offered no decision on the NC Republicans’ request for a stay and hearing. Instead, Roberts ruled that the plaintiffs in the Congressional re-districting case have until Tuesday, Feb. 16, to provide a response to the State’s request. That leaves only three days until the lower federal court’s original deadline for the State to redraw the districts, according to The Charlotte Observer (2/11/2016).
Therefore, the Chief Justice did not rule, “yes.” He did not rule, “no.” He ruled “maybe,” with an unrealistic time crunch, to boot.
Yesterday, Friday, Feb. 12th, the NC legislature decided to move ahead with redrawing the two districts to remain in compliance with the original federal court panel’s decision, according to The Charlotte Observer (2/13/2016). That was a wise choice. All of us wait to hear, however, what Chief Justice John Roberts will rule on Tuesday or soon after on the State’s request and appeal.
I think Justice John Roberts should grant a stay on the enforcement of the federal court panel’s ruling, but should not grant a hearing and appeal with the US Supreme Court. I hear the NC State officials’ complaint that the quick timing of the decision would throw this election into disarray, since it would force the State to move too quickly on the redrawing of the districts. Therefore, I think the Chief Justice should allow the decision to take effect immediately after the primary election: Roberts should give the State one month, until April 15th, 2016, to redraw the districts. That would be substantially more time than the two weeks originally provided by the panel, more than the one week that the State legislature is taking and using, and would not fall in the middle of a primary election. The new districts should be in place, however, by April 15th, I think, which would provide ample time for the general election to be held with the new district boundaries.
The current Congresswoman for the 12th District, Alma Adams, is running for re-election this year. She offered no opinion on the federal court decision at this time, but instead, she focused her attention on continuing to do her job as a Congresswoman and on running her re-election campaign.
“We don’t know what the impacts of this decision will be yet, but for now I am concentrating on doing my job as the Congresswoman for the 12th District,” Alma Adams said in a statement, “and running a campaign on the basis of my strong record of doing what is right for North Carolina and my District.” Sam Spencer, campaign manager for Congresswoman Adams, provided the statement.
Regardless of the outcome of all the current litigation, I support and endorse Congresswoman Alma Adams, a Democrat, for re-election to Congress in the 12thDistrict. I agree with her, and think she is good for the people of North Carolina, serving as our representative in Washington.

Congresswoman Alma Adams

Which brings us back to the merits of the case before the Chief Justice. I think the reality is obvious, and should not need to be heard by the full Supreme Court. The current party breakdown of NC’s congressional delegation is 10 Republicans and three Democrats, according to Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer(2/10/2016). That represents a lopsided number. Part of that must be attributed to the current political climate in North Carolina, definitely trending conservative and Republican, but part of that partisan representation may be due to Congressional maps that favor exactly the breakdown and representation we currently have.
Both the 12th and the 1st are represented by African-American Democrats, for example, and with the exception of one other seat held by a Democrat, all other seats are held by Republicans. That is precisely the kind of lop-sided representation that the current Congressional district maps in NC encourage.
The numbers follow race, as well. The Democratic Party vote is weakened across districts, and the African-American vote is concentrated into these two districts, both represented by African-American officials. These results indicate the diluting of the African-American vote out of nearby districts, and into the 12thand the 1st.
I think these two districts should be redrawn with sensible, obvious geography and politics as top concerns.

We should keep race in mind, however, I think, still, at this time. If it turns out that under the new maps, there are no African-Americans in the NC congressional delegation, then I think we might revisit the issue once again. Although I think we have made substantial progress in guaranteeing the right to vote to the African-American population, and in redressing their absence from political representation in Washington, still I think we are not all-the-way there on the voting rights front, as addressed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14thAmendment to the US Constitution.

For now, though, I think the numbers spell out an obvious case. We need to redraw these maps in a timely fashion with as little disruption to the current election as possible. I think there is no need for the full Supreme Court to explore all of these issues yet again, however, particularly for the 12thDistrict, which, according to Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer, has already been heard by our top court at least four times.
Leave it alone, I would argue. Delay the federal court panel’s ruling to make it more palatable to enforce by the current NC government, and otherwise, leave it alone. Let the ruling stand without further appeal. The merits of the case are obvious. This federal court panel has the right time for North Carolina in this ruling, and its order should stand.

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC

POEM: A Carolina Moon

June 28, 2014–

A Carolina Moon
 
 
A
full moon
 
shines
brightly
 
in
the black
 
night
sky
 
outside
my

bedroom
window.
 
It
hangs high
 
over
a trove
 
of
trees
 
nearby
in this
 
apartment
complex.
 
No,
this is
 
not
a story
 
of
any
 
seedy
underbelly
 
of
life
 
in
the
 
working-
class,
 
in
the
 
New
South,
 
detailing
rogue
 
figures
and
 
outlaws
and
 
drugs
and
 
prostitution
and
 
all
that.
 
No,
this is

just
a
 
story
of
 
the
Carolina moon—
 
how
bright,
 
how
beautiful
 
above
the
 
darkened
trees.
 
It
is
 
hard
to
 
imagine
someone
 
escaping
this place—
 
a
slave

 

running
in the
 
underground
railroad
 
in
the
 
antebellum
South,
 
headed
North,
 
or
a
 
mass
migration

in
the
 
early
twentieth-
 
century,
away
 
from
old
 
Jim
Crow.
 
It
is
 
hard
to imagine,
 
even
if
 
entirely
understandable.
 
Why?
Simply
 
because
no
 
moon
shines
 
so
bright,
 
so
beautiful
 
in
the dark

night
sky
 
as
this
 
Carolina
moon
 
tonight.

—Nicholas Patti

Libraries, Culture, and Teacher Pay Raises Worth Paying For

June 25, 2014–

Open letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC):

In response to “County Sends Sales Tax to Ballot” (June 18):

   As host city for Bank of America and Duke Energy, Charlotte sees some significant levels of capital flowing around town. So what does it mean to be poor, working class, and middle class here?

 

   Everyone—from the homeless to the 99% to the 1%—benefits from a better public library, for example. The book budget allows the library to stay current and relevant, establishing its basic value for the community. Expanded service to six days year-round means that Charlotte children have someplace positive and productive to go for an extra day each week—either with parents or when parents are away at work during the summer.

 

   All of us Charlotte and Mecklenburg residents deserve a better library, one more on the same scale as the highly concentrated wealth this city possesses.

 

 

   So the majority of Mecklenburg County Commissioners are asking the 99% to pay the bulk of it? It is not a perfect world. It is time for us all to step up, vote yes, and pay for what we need—and deserve.

 

—Nicholas Patti

 

 

POETRY IN NEW ANTHOLOGY

December 17, 2013–Two new poems of mine have appeared in a new anthology, released in November, 2013, entitled The Best of the Final Friday Reading Series, 2012-2013. The collection is edited by Jonathan K. Rice and M. Scott Douglass, and published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in Charlotte, NC. Their website is www.MainStreetRag.com.
     The book collects poems from the poetry open mic and featured reading at Vin Master in Charlotte, NC. I have two poems included. They are, “When Drowning,” and “Ode to a Sunny, Back-lawn Terrace in Charlotte in November.”
     An excerpt follows:

When drowning,
it is

important
to

tread
water.

    Check out my poems and this book full of good poetry. Go to Main Street Rag (above) and purchase/request your copy today!

–Nicholas Patti
   Charlotte, NC

Open Letter to the Editor

Open Letter to The Charlotte Observer (unpublished in the paper), December 17, 2013:

     It is with sadness but not regret that I note the passing of Nelson Mandela, South African revolutionary turned president turned elder statesman for the world.
     Like President Obama, my first serious political involvement was in the anti-apartheid movement. In my case, I chaired the Southern African Awareness Committee (SoAAC) as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) in 1989 and 1990, during the global divestment effort.
     Unlike President Obama, however, I took a more circuitous route through adulthood. I became a poet. My most recent publication is in the NC anthology, The Best of the Final Friday Reading Series, which just came out in November, 2013, in Charlotte.
     Nelson Mandela serves as an inspiration and ideal, now, for all of us, not only for presidents and leaders the world over. I commend your coverage.

–Nicholas Patti
   Charlotte, NC