Partners for Democracy

Published December 7, 2023

By Tom Campbell

We were invited to attend the meeting of Pamlico Partners for Democracy, a group concerned about current threats to Democracy.
Those present included a retired judge, two retired ministers, a small business owner and former county commissioner, a financial planner, two retired teachers, an equipment manufacturer, a former school principal, a pediatrician, retired law enforcement officer and a former traffic engineer. Many had retired and moved to Pamlico County. We were informed the group also includes other members, but it is obviously quite diverse and there was a good split of self-identified Republicans and Democrats.
As each took turns speaking there was almost unanimous consensus that Donald Trump was the biggest threat to Democracy any had known in their lifetime. Listening to the statements Trump’s public statements causes you to believe we might lose the way of life we have long enjoyed. One voice expressed that Joe Biden also was a threat, however the group overwhelmingly agreed Biden is not an equivalent concern.
After more than an hour of lively discussion the retired school principal stated that he felt like most were just rehashing the same sentiments. He opined that the group needed to decide what should be done to protect Democracy. The history teacher said that any message needed to be succinct and best expressed by bullet points. Although all agreed a plan of action was needed, no such plan was proposed before adjournment.
It was comforting to hear those at Pamlico Partners for Democracy. We believe there are large numbers of others in our state who feel similarly, wondering what they can do. It occurred to me that a good starting point in devising a plan would be to first identify what we believe are the principles of Democracy. After some extensive research I have condensed what I have found into 9 principles.
Principles of Democracy 
* Worth, value and rights of every person regardless of race, sex, age or origin.
* Guarantees included in the “Bill of Rights,” notably freedoms of assembly, speech, the press, religion, right to bear arms, and trial by jury of peers.
* Economic freedom, with reasonable laws and regulations, encouraging personal and corporate enterprise.
* Representative governance with an ethic of tolerance, respect and compromise to reach agreements serving the common good.
* A transparent, effective, accountable and apolitical government doing those things we cannot or will not do ourselves as citizens.
* An independent judiciary adhering to the Rule of Law in dispensing equal justice.
* Free and fair elections involving pluralistic parties and impartial election integrity that guarantees all eligible citizens the opportunity to vote, then accepts election outcomes.
* Separation of powers among three branches of government to assure adequate checks and balances.
* A military that does not represent any political viewpoint but exists and is trained to protect the nation and freedoms of its people.

 Others can and should look at these statements to make them better, but this is a good start.
Next is determining a plan of action. As a student of history, I thought it might be instructive to examine what colonists did when they felt threatened by a dictatorial King and Parliament.
From the site I learned the first steps toward Independence were taken in our state in December 1773, where a Wilmington meeting established The North Carolina Committee of Correspondence. Josiah Quincy from Massachusetts spent the night at the home of Cornelius Harnett and drew plans first to identify others with similar feelings, then communicate events, statements and positions to them and other colonies. Quincy later dubbed Harnett, chairman of the committee, the “Samuel Adams of North Carolina.” Also on this committee was Joseph Hewes and William Hooper (two of NC’s signers of the Declaration), Samuel Johnston, Richard Caswell, John Ashe, John Harvey, Robert Howe and Edward Vail.
Action followed. The First Provincial Congress to be held in America in open defiance of royal authority was held in New Bern in August 1774. The New Bern Resolves saw 71 delegates from 30 of the 36 counties and 6 of 9 boroughs in North Carolina draft resolves listing their grievances against taxes and laws imposed on them. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, in May 1775, was the first declaring residents to be “free and independent people.” And the Halifax Resolves in April 1776 instructed North Carolina delegates to the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to seek and vote for independence from Great Britain. These and other actions led to the breakdown of royal government in North Carolina, forcing royal governor Josiah Martin to flee the state on the warship Cruizer.
Our state has a rich heritage seeking and supporting Democracy. We played an important role in independence. Is it time for history to repeat itself? Other groups like Pamlico Partners for Democracy should form and initiate action.
Democracy is at a crisis point. North Carolina can once again lead. What shall we do?
Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965.  Contact him at