By Jeanne Milliken Bonds
Belonging to a political party and espousing values that define political ideology on a spectrum are not always the easiest concepts to grasp. Many folks respond to poll questions about their ideology as “moderate” because it sounds better than “liberal” or “conservative.” And, many people, like me, really believe we are “moderate” if we have to have a label. I don’t like extreme rhetoric with silly verbs. Calling someone out on policy ideology is fair game; villainizing them is not useful for policy debate. Let’s focus on the primary issue at hand. It’s the economy and the use of government tools to affect the economy and education that leads one to participate in the economy. Broad area of concern but it certainly excludes possums, nipples and other such nonsense that become distractions and embarrassments.
American politics has been dumbed down to an ideological label. For the sale of millions in NC, let’s focus on the issues, solving problems through politics and policy, using common sense to arrive at solutions. I don’t think I am alone in that I prefer to think about an issue first and ideology second. My values align with the Democratic Party and as member of that party, it is time to speak out on the absurdity of a “leaked memo” that is now a distraction from values, from ideas, from issues. And if we must debate a memo, we need to debate the bigger issue of money and the effect of Citizens United on the money grab of American Politics. There is nothing in this memo that hasn’t been done by those aligned with the GOP. Their memo just hasn’t been “leaked” yet.
The “leaked memo” from a group of organizations whose members align with the Democratic Party does not define me, doesn’t define 2.7 million NC Democrats and it shouldn’t define the debate about policy now in North Carolina. People struggling with economic challenges are too important to me. And if you are in elected office, they should be more important to you. That is the responsibility of leadership in this State. In the absence of real leadership on what really matters, it is time for some regular folks to stand up and remind everyone. That’s the strategy for 2014: Honestly debate the issues and leadership and let the chips fall where they may.
A “leaked memo” that uses silly verbs and “fightin’ words” that one might use in a moment of political passion has led to a fundraising plea using victimization. How silly. And how self-serving. The “memo” does not tell me anything except that it was written out-of-state by someone who has not been fortunate enough to understand that you can lead and win elections with statesmanship, ideas, passion and attention to the issues. Case in point. Governor Jim Hunt.
Using the memo to whine, complain and more importantly, distract from your job leading is just as bad as the rhetoric in the memo. Phooey on both sides. Would Governor Jim Martin start fundraising because someone said they wanted to “cripple” him? Doubtful.
Both parties have allied organizations engaging in the same tactics. Both sides use the same extreme rhetoric to “sell” ideology. Both sides craft messages to persuade, confuse and convince. Both sides want money. Both sides want power. Get off your high horses.
Last week, I was embarrassed to be a native North Carolinian. Silly bills and articles scattered across the US about NC – possums dropping, a local official blogging anonymously as a founding father rather than owning up to his words with his name, a bill outlawing nipples, a Governor calling people “whiners”, a group advocating medical marijuana made fun of, and then memo-gate … All overshadowing time and attention from the serious issues of medicaid, unemployment, tax reform, education. Seriously, how is our brand improved as a State with these issues overshadowing the real issues?
This memo is not THE strategy for Democrats for 2014. This memo is not a reason to demonize a group of 2.7 million Democrats. This memo is being used as a means to further divide, further heighten extreme rhetoric and push the ideology further to the extremes. How convenient. Explains why it was leaked. The memo is not reflective of most Democrats’ values and the response is not reflective of most Republicans’ values. The reasons it was “leaked” are just as bad as the reasons it was written.
Get to the issues that matter: high unemployment, jobs, education. A State is depending on your attention to what matters. A leaked memo does not define Democrats; values do.
Jeanne Bonds is a political analyst and an NC Spin Panelist