North Carolina is a politically centrist state. Depending on the personalities that emerge and the economy, it can lean right politically. Republicans and conservatives, armed with a web of 527s, 501( c) 4s, and PAC money from their gains in 2010, were able to boom a louder message across more channels and take over state government in total in 2012. I don’t know that their message was better. But the fact is they had more money and resources to move it out to more people and repeat it. In swing districts where Democrats should have run centrist candidates, a necessity to even give progressives a seat at the table, the slot was open or the conservative message was backed by resources to run their candidate as an appealing moderate, outspending the Democratic candidate. The result is the supermajority at the NCGA.
Rumor has it some Democrats are focusing efforts on a sharp turn left hedging their bets on a future growing urban population that is more liberal. Focusing that far in the future is leaving North Carolinians in the present behind.
In the past, North Carolinians looked to the Democratic Party for practical, common sense innovation and solutions. With small caucuses in the NC House and Senate, the Democratic members in the NCGA are basically hog-tied to do anything but speak out on the floor. A handful of Democratic legislators in the House have managed to remain relevant, predominantly the Mecklenburg Delegation of which the Speaker is a member.
Our State is facing challenges. The Party in power is making the law. The NAACP has effectively broadened its base and amassed a growing diverse army to object. They are taking the message on the road. The NAACP effort is helping educate North Carolinians about the policies. Rev. William Barber has stepped up his game and is inspiring conscientious objectors. Republicans can shake their heads but they see the crowds growing and they cannot deny it is effective. The NAACP is effectively changing its brand.
Democrats should be working in tandem with the protests to pitch alternatives to current policy. Instead the Party Chair is non-communicado except to roll out robo calls to the Party’s State Executive Committee. He has a team of seven is rolling out attacks, many vicious, on anyone who dares to question or comment on the current state of Party affairs. The attacks often come from an “anonymous” Voller supporter. Those are the strategies of kids in a 7th grade election for student council.
Tax reform, the budget and education are big ticket items in the NCGA that can change the playing field and the face of NC for years to come. They are on NOW. It is well past time for Randy Voller to speak for himself and speak to all Democrats about working together instead of driving the Democrats into factions. It is well past time to communicate about an alternative policy solution instead of robo calls and releases about how well he is doing.
The more time that passes without Voller making a concerted effort to listen to Democrats beyond his “yes” team, the less chance he has of doing anything but barely surviving in the role. And, the less chance North Carolinians have of hearing an effective alternative to current policies from the NC Democratic Party.
Jeanne Milliken Bonds is an NC Spin panelist, Host of Plain Talk Politics, PR Consultant and former Mayor.