The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 7, 2014

Change must come from Republicans

Sunday, July 8, 2014 — RALEIGH – Just a few days into this year’s short session, Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, shared his disappointment over current affairs.

“They’ve repealed all the progress we made over the last 30 years,” he said sadly of the Republican legislative leadership.

Blue’s dismay is typical among those who call themselves “progressives” in North Carolina. The legislatures of the 2011-14 have undone much of what they accomplished after wresting legislative control from conservative Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s.

Among those progressives, there is optimism that the political tide will turn. They imagine the following timeline for North Carolina politics.

They hope Democrats win enough seats in either chamber this year to be able to sustain any veto by Gov. Pat McCrory, thus pressuring him to resist Tea Party legislation. Their anti-GOP campaign this fall will tie individual legislators to unfavorable images of McCrory.

In 2016, they hope, a politically damaged McCrory will lose his re-election bid to Attorney General Roy Cooper, and Democrats will capture a majority in at least one chamber. In 2018 and 2020, Democrats hope to expand those gains and get back and re-set North Carolina on a progressive path.

This optimism is largely based on the state’s changing demographics – rural to urban, the growth of Hispanic voting, and the belief that the core of the Tea Party is dying of old age. To me, it looks like wishful thinking.

First, the gerrymandered legislative map is so firmly rigged in the GOP’s favor that Democrats need a strong majority of votes just to break even, but they trail in the generic ballot surveys done recently by their sympathetic polling firm, Public Policy Polling.

Second, the progressive effort is uncoordinated because the N.C. Democratic Party is a mess. Independent groups hope to organize, but there’s no replacing a unified party. And, add to that, the public doesn’t buy the Democratic brand any more.

Here’s my take: North Carolina can turn around, and it can head in a more progressive direction, but Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents must engineer that movement. Practical Democrats can help by becoming independents and voting in GOP primaries, boosting more centrist Republican candidates, as is happening in Mississippi.

This General Assembly has angered and frightened many constituencies, not just liberals. The medical community, local government leaders, teachers, sheriffs, university supporters and public school parents are all upset.

At some point, these different constituencies may decide to choose a different path, one for strong public schools, well paid teachers, an end to big UNC tuition increases, state policy that is more respectful of local governments and law enforcement, and a more generous safety net for those who lose their jobs or who cannot afford health care.

But only when Republican voters in those groups decide to change direction will North Carolina change.

Paul O’Connor is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

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    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

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    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
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    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
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