Valdese, North Carolina is holding a special election on March 2, to decide if will be legal to sell alcoholic beverages within the town limits. Currently, it is not.
Last year some people got together and decided it would be a good idea, that it would bring new businesses to town, which would either directly or indirectly help current businesses. It also would bring increased tax revenues, which would help the town, so the theorey goes. They gathered enough signatures, followed all the laws and got the measure on a ballot, to be voted on.
I actually know a few of the people instrumental in getting this going. It is possible some of them may benefit financially from local alcohol sales but I doubt any of them would get rich from it.
When I first heard of it, I remember thinking, this is really going to be an uphill battle - and so far nothing has changed my mind. The pro-alcohol sales people got their signs out first, but the anti-alcohol sales people have struck back with a vengeance, sign wise. If singage is any indication, this measure will not come close to passing.
Valdese is a small town in the south, and it is no different than thousands upon thousands of other small towns in the south. There are a boat load of churches in town, all protestant, all conservative, all (except perhaps one), White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (I'm sorry, but the Waldensians, who's heritage is Italian, have become as WASPy as the rest of us - its a state of mind more than actual heritage), they equate drinking a beer with immorality, are adamantly opposed and are the driving force behind the opposition to this.
They don't put that on their signs though. On their signs they identify themselves as citizens for a drug free Valsese, or something like that. Well the good ship SS Drug Free Valdese left port over 40 years ago, and it has yet to return.
No, they think it is immoral. And how do I know this? It was how I was brought up, that's how I know. Kentucky, where I grew up, has 120 counties. When I was a child, 109 were dry - it was illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in them. It just so happened though, that in Perry County, right next to Knott county, alcohol sales were legal. When we drove from Hindman to my Granny's house, we left Knott County, went into Perry County, then back into Knott County (this was before they built the new road) - it was the only way to get around the mountain, I guess. The first thing that greeted us in Perry County was a liquor store. It had a big sign - Beer Wine Liquor. I was six years old, I remember pressing my face against the car window looking at it in disbelief, everytime I passed it. I remember thinking, these were bad, evil people, and not only that, they didn't care if everybody knew they were bad and evil. I was positive they were going to go to hell, and burn for eternity. Now, I was six years old - where did I learn that? Why did I think that way? I knew nothing of alcohol. My parents did not drink, I didn't know anybody who used it, it was not any part of my culture. I don't remember my parents ever talking about it. But yet I had very strong six year old views on the subject, how did I get them? They came from church - the Montgomery Baptist Church, Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible School, tent revivals, the Mennonite church I sometimes attended and some of the various other fundamentalist churches that were a part of my life back then.
So, that's how I know. Even though they don't put it on their signs, the opposition is church driven, and they are opposed because they feel it is immoral.
I think they are also better organized, and have more money, and certainly have a lot more people willing to donate their time to supporting their beliefs.
So, my prediction is that Valdese will stay safely dry. I'll let you know on March 3rd.