Saturday, June 20, 2015

I77 Activism Blurs Political Lines...Precedent for Success in North Carolina

As someone who has been active in politics for a while now, one of the most interesting aspects of the activism surrounding the I77 HOT Lanes is how much it crosses political boundaries when it comes to the people involved.

It is clear from knowing some of the people personally and from reading comments in cyberspace from a wide variety of others that no one political label would cover the entire group.  If everyone who is actively working against this proposed plan were all in a room and someone asked people to raise their hands for the labels Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, moderate progressive, libertarian, or any other label, it is clear that numerous hands would go up for each one.

The opposition to this covers so many sub-groups it is hard to overstate how widespread it had become.  Rarely will you see this kind of teamwork across political lines, but there is precedent for it in North Carolina.

In eastern North Carolina there was a widespread effort that stopped the most powerful force on the planet from doing what it wanted.  That was the effort in the late 2000's to stop the US Navy from building a facility called the "Outer Landing Field" or OLF.

Here's an excerpt on the OLF from a piece I wrote back in 2012.  Unfortunately, the links don't work. The NOOLF site went dark - because it was no longer needed.

From April 2012...

Ever heard of the OLF?  If you've ever driven through some of the counties in eastern NC or Virginia, you would. signs dot the roadsides, and some have obviously been there for years.  Last year, the organization won a major battle in its long-running war of attrition.  Here's a quote from the most recent news item posted on the website.

"The U.S. Navy called a Jan. 27 truce in its 10-year battle to build a practice airfield in North Carolina or Virginia.

The proposed Outlying Landing Field (OLF) for practice landings and takeoffs by carrier-based jets from Norfolk, Va., stirred strong opposition in both states, but none more than in North Carolina, where the Navy first attempted to obtain land for the field a decade ago.

'The Navy made the right decision,' said Vance Aydlett Jr., chairman of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners, 'The Navy promised that it would not build an OLF in a community that did not want it, and today it followed through on the promise.'"

NOOLF is a successful activist driven effort to stop government overreach, and it provides a prime example of how diverse groups can come together to stop such efforts - even as they attack the issue from totally different perspectives.  Take a look at the site's "allies" page and you will see groups as diverse as the Sierra Club and FreedomWorks.

You would never expect to see that would you?  Those groups could not agree on anything could they?  The answer to both questions is "No".  However, on this effort they come at the issue from different perspectives and end up in the same place, and that place allows them to agree.  The OLF is bad for the community for environmental reasons and  property rights reasons.  So, they agree to fight it together.

Fast forward to today and the fight against the toll lanes.  One can certainly see a lot of parallels to the efforts of and Facebook groups like "Exit 28 Ridiculousness".

Always remember, no challenge is too big when "the people" work together.

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