The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 26, 2014

A protest, an election and a contest to frame them

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 — RALEIGH — A day before tens of thousands of people gathered for a protest march in the state capital, the head of the state Republican Party, Claude Pope, called a news conference to conduct his own protest.

Pope told reporters that elected Democratic office-holders like U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Attorney General Roy Cooper should condemn the key organizer of the march, state NAACP head William Barber, for his inflammatory rhetoric.

“We can have our disagreements on policy,” Pope said.

“But if Democrats want to have a seat at the table, they need to learn how to turn down some of that rhetoric and discourse.”

In an indirect sort of way, his words get to the heart of the current state of politics here.

The problem is that they imply that the Republicans who control the levers of power in Raleigh, like the Democrats before them, have not acted as if politics is a zero-sum game, one in which those in the losing party are ignored like a dull water-colored landscape hanging on the wall.

And the words imply that those in the minority party, whether Democrat or Republican, who publicly cooperate with the majority party won’t eventually be punished for that cooperation.

After spending almost two decades watching Raleigh politics, I could write five columns citing examples to show that doesn’t happen very often.

So, what is one to make of those words, coming from someone whose job is electoral politics and not the formation of public policy?

They likely mean that, while Pope and Republican leaders hope to use Barber’s Moral Monday protests as a wedge (as I have already written about), the GOP also worries about the effect of its message.

Pope can say that the media pays too much attention to Barber.

When you can tap into voter anger and organize a rally that brings tens of thousands of people to Raleigh on a weekend, you deserve media attention. When you can do that after having organized weeks and weeks of protests during a single summer that brought thousands more to the legislative building, a political reporter who ignores that isn’t doing his or her job.

What Pope and his fellow GOP leaders fear is that Barber helps turn the 2014 elections into a bottom-up election, with voters more focused on policies bubbling up from Raleigh than those rolling down from Washington.

It would be quite a feat.

At a time when many voters are fairly disengaged when it comes to following the machinations of state and local politics, votes up and down the ballot are cast based on the political winds pushing out of Washington.

The Republicans hope that is the case again this year, that they can make all contests about Obamacare and turn Hagan, at the top of the ballot, into an Obamacare villain who damages the Democrats below her.

When thousands show up in Raleigh on a weekend to change the conversation, some worrying and fretting might be in order.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • 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!
    People are dumb.

    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.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

    RALEIGH – Earlier this year, state Sen. Ben Clark, a Hoke County Democrat, became a hero for a day among his party and environmentalists when his amendment to require more well water testing near future fracking sites passed the Senate. It even gained the support of a number of GOP senators, against the wishes of the Republican bill sponsor.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content