The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 21, 2012

The fantasy of political supremacy

By Scott Mooneyham for the SNAP
SNAP

Friday, September 21, 2012 — RALEIGH — Well, before Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention, New York Times columnist Bill Brooks wrote about the vice presidential nominee and his role on the debt reduction commission established by President Obama.

Ryan ultimately voted against the commission’s debt reduction proposals. He explained his vote by saying that the plan did little to restructure Medicare, despite the program being a huge part of the nation’s ballooning debt.

Brooks called the decision “intellectually coherent,” but still a “tactical error.” He noted that had Ryan and other House Republicans on the commission voted for the plan, it would have forced up or down votes in Congress on the proposals, creating a national debt reduction plan.

The columnist’s more intriguing commentary came regarding the psychology behind the vote. Brooks concluded that Ryan was “giving up significant debt progress for a political fantasy.”

“Ryan’s fantasy happens to be the No. 1 political fantasy in America today, which has inebriated both parties. It is the fantasy that the other party will not exist. It is the fantasy that you are about to win a 1932-style victory that will render your opponents powerless,” he wrote.

In North Carolina, some Republicans appear to believe that they are about to win that kind of a 1932-style victory, vanquishing the Democrats to an afterthought.

Unlike on the national political stage, the reality here might be closer to the fantasy.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has enjoyed a consistent lead in the polls over his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. Meanwhile, some unimaginable event outside of politics would probably be required to change the balance of power in the state legislature, where the GOP now controls both chambers.

So, come next January, there is a strong possibility that Republicans, for the first time since Recon-struction, will control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

From Tampa, you could hear the chorus of confidence oozing from state Republicans. House Speak-er Thom Tillis talked of turning the state red, of pushing through measures like voter I.D. that were blocked while a Democrat was in the governor’s mansion.

But will the fantasy that Brooks wrote of then be true for this state? Will the other party have ceased to exist?

No, and not for reasons that have anything to do with the organized (or disorganized) state Democratic Party.

That annihilation of one party won’t have occurred because of the voters, and their closely divided political sentiments.

McCrory, should he win in November, won’t take home some 17-point victory like FDR in 1932. The GOP, should it control both chambers of the legislature again, will have done so with close legislative vote margins, in individual districts and collectively.

Since at least the mid-1990s, North Carolina has been a two-party state. Republican control of the primary institutions of political power won’t change that.

Embracing a fantasy that it has, and governing without moderation, will ultimately change the balance that matters most — the balance among the people.