View from the Center

Published August 1, 2013

By Tom Campbell

by Tom Campbell, executive producer and moderator, NC SPIN, August 1, 2013

You’ve heard the spin from the right and the left regarding this session of the General Assembly, but little from centrists. I don’t claim to speak for all them all, but I call myself one and think I can provide some insights into what moderates want.

We despise the mean-spirited partisan acrimony enveloping our state. People on both sides feel at liberty to call those with whom they disagree ugly names, use foul language and spout venom at them. North Carolinians are better than this and have traditionally been able to disagree without being disagreeable. Can we call a truce and publicly denounce those who don’t speak and act civilly?

Moderates aren’t satisfied with public education outcomes and recognize the education community hasn’t achieved meaningful reform, but we also recognize many dedicated people are working hard in education. There is good education taking place in many classrooms and we can’t summarily dismiss successful teaching. Actions taken toward NCAE and teachers, who largely supported Democrats, felt like retaliation, not steps to improve outcomes.

The same is true for election law changes. Democrats changed election laws to favor turnout from their base and we understand Republicans wanting to level the playing field, but we don’t get the hubbub over voter ID. An ID is required in many places and we don’t feel discriminated against when someone asks for one. However, there is no evidence of corruption that requires an ID. Moderates don’t vote straight tickets anyway so that change might result in the election of more unaffiliated candidates and be a good thing.

The tax changes passed were a good start but not the major reform promised. Tax savings primarily benefit the rich and businesses.  The budget reflects fiscal responsibility and we like adding to the Rainy Day fund. We also agree there is inefficiency and like efforts to make government more accountable, less burdensome and cost effective. But the abortion bill, the intrusion into local municipalities’ governance and other actions seemed like vindictive revenge against Democrats.

Republicans gained control in election districts the Democrats gerrymandered because we unaffiliated and moderate voters wanted change. Now Republicans’ have their turn at bat, but moderates don’t like the hard turn to the right, just as we didn’t appreciate the leftward steering of Democrats.

Please understand this: The Republican social agenda is just that - your agenda, not ours and unacceptable. It appears to be your guiding star.

Here’s what centrists want. We want a government that works, works for all of us, not just a chosen few constituents. We want public servants who are indeed servants, willing to engage in dialogue. That includes being willing to listen, with a desire to seek compromise for the common good.

Changes made this legislative session are not as draconian and disastrous as Democrats say; neither are they the slam-dunk victory Republicans claim. They are the most dramatic changes our state has seen since The Great Depression and The Great Society. Centrists are willing to give this new team some time to see how the changes impact our state. But our number one priority is we want to know a clear and positive plan of where Republicans want us to be in four years and how they are going to lead us there.

August 1, 2013 at 11:55 am
Talmadge Walker says:

The idea behind requiring an ID is not to eliminate corruption. Cheating by individuals casting multiple ballots is such an inefficient way to cheat that it's extremely rare. The more efficient way to cheat (hence more frequently occurring) is through fraudulent use of the absentee ballot. If the legislature cared about voter fraud they would put more safeguards on that.

The real reason for the new voter ID requirement is to slow down the voting process. Combined with the shortened early voting schedule that means the lines in large urban precincts (mostly Democratic) will be lengthened considerably, especially during heavy turnout Presidential election years like 2016, when the law will go into effect. And don't count on voting if you're in line by 7:30. Polling places will no longer have the option of staying open an extra hour when there's a line.

August 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm
Joe Nico says:

Absolute baloney! Any voter in line when the polls close will still be allowed to vote, just like always. Stop spreading misinformation!

August 1, 2013 at 9:27 pm
dj anderson says:

With at least 10 early voting days, absentee ballot without cause, voters should take responsibility and plan NOT to be arriving at the polls near the last minute, so the polls should close on time, otherwise, stragglers will continue to come and the line never end. Let them in side at closing, and lock the rest out. This isn't a business trying to make money by staying open.

August 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm
dj anderson says:

"But the abortion bill...seemed like vindictive revenge against Democrats." --- Blog

Disagree on this one. Not vindictive, but is expected from candidate's campaigns. Republicans are obliged to Pro-life voters. Those 'single issue voters' who will not vote for pro-choice candidates to keep from being complicit in the millions of lives ended are forced to vote Republican. If the Democratic Party had dropped their 'abortion party' image then the Republicans would not have won the state. How ironic that the Democratic Party became the abortion supporters and Republicans the party of life?