One American’´s Plain-spoken Agenda
This is as unsettled a political season as I’ve ever experienced in what is, admittedly, a short span of about a half decade observing the process up close. It’s as angrily partisan, bitter and caustic as anything short of civil war.
As scores of impassioned first-time candidates from the ranks of the GOP fan out across North Carolina with a missionary zeal to take the country back and the Democrats mobilize organization and big money, I wonder: Is there any common ground left between the two major political parties to seek common good and common goals?
The Republican congressional candidates running against their own elder statesman Howard Coble, and against Democrats Brad Miller and Mel Watt — what exactly are they opposed to? And what do they propose as alternatives? The Democratic reformers from Guilford County — Ralph Johnson and Marcus Brandon, running against entrenched incumbents in the NC House — are they qualitatively different than those they seek to replace? If so, would they not be changed in the same ways by their elevation to Raleigh?
And what seems to be the hand selection of a successor by retiring NC Sen. Katie Dorsett in District 28 — was that maneuver intended to avoid the messy prospect of a roughand-tumble contest between primary contenders? If so, it seems more likely to flip the seat into the Republican column by setting up political novice Gladys A. Robinson against seasoned conservative street-fighter Trudy Wade.
(As an aside, Wade’s primary field is rapidly narrowing, to the point where she may win her party’s nomination by default. One opponent, Robert Brafford Jr., doesn’t return phone calls
and doesn’t have any profile on the internet. Another, John Wayne Welch, appears to be in such awe of Wade that he decided his candidacy was redundant. And on March 11, I received two phone calls from persons offering tips about another opponent, Jeffrey A. Brommer, has had with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As further evidence of an orchestrated effort, the story was published on the News & Record website within an hour.)
What exactly are the motives and aspirations driving the restless electorate and the candidates that have stepped forward to attempt to articulate its wishes?
I can only speak for myself. I switched my registration from Democrat to unaffiliated in 2008, as a delayed reaction to the bland corruption in the party exemplified by now-jailed former House Speaker Jim Black, who made professional associations such as the nurse anesthetists the primary brokers of political power. My political orientation is not much different from the progressive wing of the NC Democratic Party, a group almost as rarefied and obscure these days as the Whig Party. I quietly supported John Edwards in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, but in hindsight feel utter relief that he was forced to drop out. I celebrated Obama’s victory, but became disgusted before he was even inaugurated by his reliance on the very Wall Street technocrats who promoted the policies that set the stage for the economic crash.
I would like to see some kind of healthcare reform that ensures that all Americans have access to care and none are economically crippled by disease or accident. I would like to see significant investment in mass transit and alternative energy. I would like to see steps taken to slow down or reverse global warming. I would like to see direct aid to struggling homeowners, small business owners and unemployed workers instead of bailouts to banks that take the money but don’t do anything to ease credit.
The staff at YES! Weekly includes a wide range of ideological viewpoints that are the natural extensions of our respective life experiences, cultural backgrounds and economic stations. I like the big tent, and the ongoing challenge of wrestling over deeply held convictions in a civil and constructive manner.
Another kind of politics is represented at YES! Weekly, too. That being the strain expressed in the profusion of tea parties and town hall meetings last year. A sense that government is overreaching its powers, strangling businesses with new regulations and driving up the deficit with profligate spending that spells certain catastrophe for future generations.
Several unnerving questions hang in the air: Do we seek the same goals? Is there any common ground that doesn’t amount to abject capitulation by one or both sides? Can we put aside those differences that are more petty than principled for the good of our country?
If you’re a candidate on the Guilford County ballot that is running for office and you have a primary opponent, I want to meet you before May 4.
If you’re interested in expanding government programs to make a difference in citizens’ lives, I want you to tell me how you propose to pay for it. If you’re motivated by a desire to cut taxes, I want you to specify which expenditures you would eliminate from the budget to make that happen.
Any of us are likely to have differences of opinion on at least something. The many gerrymandered districts that carve up Guilford County tend to skew either Democratic or Republican, black or white, resulting in various empowered majorities and suppressed minorities.
Here’s a contract proposal: We the media listen to you the candidate with an open mind and render your positions honestly and without favor or malice. You speak forthrightly about what you plan to do in office.
Every one of us deserves representation.