Growing up in North Carolina, I spent many summer days playing in the forests. My friends and I would trek deep into the woods to play hide-and-seek, build forts, make bows and arrows, climb trees, and play along creeks and rivers. Before heading out the door, my grandmother often told me to search for quartz rocks for her. They were her favorite, especially purple amethyst. Simply walking into a wooded area or along a creek, it is quite common to find pieces of various types of quartz scattered about. North Carolina is filled with quartz and gemstones, including aquamarine, citrine, smoky quartz, and amethyst.  

It was years later that I discovered when you find an abundance of quartz, you can also find pyrite and actual gold. With North Carolina being plentiful in quartz and gold, many lapidarists, miners, and geologists frequent the state. The way these scientists can quickly tell the difference between pyrite and actual gold is by scratching it with a piece of copper or hitting it with a hammer. Pyrite will not scratch with copper, but it will shatter with a strike of a hammer. Gold, on the other hand, will scratch with copper, but not break with a strike of a hammer. To purify the gold, it is then put in a fire to rid it of impurities.  

Although geology and physical geography were some of my most memorable courses in college, my major was political science. In my field of study, we often become inspired by the world around us and apply those ideas to the study of politics and government.  

North Carolina is not only filled with quartz and hues of purple amethyst, but it has also become a purple voting state. This means the voting population has become equally Democrat and Republican, but with unaffiliated voters surpassing them both. Of course, ‘unaffiliated’ does not mean these voters do not tend to vote Democrat or Republican. Rather, there are specific issues unaffiliated voters do not believe are being answered by either of the two main political parties. I believe this is an opportunity to search the political landscape for something deeper buried in this political purple pattern — the gold of liberty.  

Increasingly, many Gen-Z voters are finding they do not resonate with either Democrats or Republicans. Older voters are getting tired of the political turmoil and feel frustrated with the limitations of the two-party representation. With this increased disaffiliation from parties, there are several issues North Carolinians on all sides may be able to find agreement on.  

Such purple topics include: ending many of the limitations of the alcohol control state laws in the archaic ABC system, making changes to the bureaucratic laws that prevent more affordable and alternative housing options, combating the increased costs of medical services and health care due to strict limits of health insurance and Certificate of Need laws. With this fertile, purple, political ground, gold (i.e. liberty) can be found. Of course, testing will need to take place to determine if this is fool’s gold or actual gold.  

North Carolinians are feeling the fire of a political refinery that will determine the purity of gold that exists in the state. Some of the impurities have included severe limitations on personal liberty, curbed small and large business development, restrained affordable housing options, persistent mass incarceration, ceaseless civil asset forfeiture, and hindered health care provisions. If North Carolinians can come together to rid the state of these political impurities, as the writing is on the wall, the gold of liberty can glisten while the destructive overreach of the state can be left numbered, weighed, and divided.