No experience necessary

Published March 28, 2024

By Thomas Mills

At the end of the 2008 U.S. Senate campaign in North Carolina, incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole ran an ad accusing her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, of being an atheist based on the flimsiest of evidence. The moved wreaked of desperation. Republican consultant Alex Castellanos told a CNN panel, "When you're making ads that say, 'There is no God,' it usually means your campaign doesn't have a prayer."

We’re seeing similar desperation play out as the realization dawns on Republicans that they’ve nominated a bunch unaccomplished, extremist loudmouths to represent their party on the November ballot. Republican operatives were on social media this weekend accusing Mo Green, the Democratic nominee for superintendent of public instruction, of being a marxist. The charge is as ridiculous as the people who made it.

Mo Green is a serious man. He has spent his career trying to make North Carolina a better place and fits firmly in the mainstream of American politics. He graduated Duke Law school, clerked for a federal judge or two, served as general council and CEO for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, became superintendent of Guilford County Schools, and then was named executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. He’s part of Duke University’s North Carolina Leadership Forum, an organization dedicated for fostering dialogue across ideological lines. There’s nothing extreme about Mo Green.

Republicans are just trying to distract from the fact they’ve got people with loose screws and no experience as their standard bearers. The nominee for superintendent of public instruction may never have set foot in a North Carolina public school classroom. She’s best known for losing a Wake County school board race, suggesting Democrats like Barack Obama and Joe Biden should be executed, and calling public schools socialist indoctrination centers. Not only does she have a bunch of bad ideas, she doesn’t even have the experience to carry them out.

The GOP nominee for governor is no better. Before he was elected lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson’s greatest accomplishment was a viral video of a rant about gun rights. Before that he had moved from job to job, declaring bankruptcy and getting evicted along the way.

The GOP nominee for commissioner of labor, Luke Farley, calls himself a “Christian. Father. Husband. Patriot,” but doesn’t cite much experience. The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, an organization that traditionally supports Republicans, calls Farley “a far-right candidate whose two main campaign platform items were banning vaccine requirements for employees and ‘Making Elevators Great Again.’” I’ll put him in league with Robinson and Morrow.

The U.S. Army recruitment slogan is “Be all you can be.” The North Carolina GOP’s recruitment slogan is “No experience necessary.” They take the idea anybody can grow up to be president to the extreme.

Republicans will spend the rest of the election arguing that mainstream politicians like Josh Stein and Mo Green are extremist because they’ve got nothing else. They’re stuck with deeply flawed candidates with lots of baggage and no practical experience. The nominees of the Republican Party are elected by voters Lincoln described as the people you can fool all of the time. They’ve been duped by talk radio, right-wing pundits, Fox News, and Republican operatives.

They are the modern equivalent of the John Birch Society, consumed by paranoia, xenophobia, and racism. Unfortunately, a modern-day William F. Buckly, Jr. has yet to emerge to drive them back to the fever swamps from whence they came. Instead, GOP operatives and elected officials who know better are shilling for corrupt, unhinged, and morally compromised candidates because they’ve decided to put party before country.

Their whole campaign is based on the false equivalency that Democrats are just as bad as Republicans. Republicans put up a slate of candidate so pathetic that they have had to create fictitious boogie men from whole cloth. They made up the Biden Crime Family and convened sham impeachment hearings that ended up exposing the GOP, not the president. In North Carolina, they’re calling Mo Green a marxist because he worked for a foundation that funds projects they don’t like. They’re hoping that the North Carolina public is just as stupid or delusional as the Republican base and will believe their fallacies and lies.

Democrats, for their part, need to keep the pressure on. Define these candidates for who they are. They’ve told us what they believe and what they want to do. Now, Democrats need to tell the rest of the state. Force Republicans to defend them or abandon them. Spend the money now and don’t wait until next fall. Brand the GOP with middle America like Republicans have branded Democrats with rural Americans.

Republicans are clearly desperate. Don’t give them any breathing room.