Commentary

Three-and-a-half preliminary takes on the election shocker

trumpYesterday was a remarkable day in the history of American democracy. This morning, millions of people at home and abroad are rightfully concerned about where our country goes from here — not just with respect specific issues like Supreme Court nominees and reproductive freedom and access to health care, but with more existential matters like the fundamentals of the economy and global security. Let’s fervently hope (and pray, if that’s your thing) that the President-elect and people around him are serious about uniting the country and that much of the rhetoric of the past several months was just that — rhetoric.

Here, however, are three preliminary takes on what last night’s election means for American policy and politics and the situation in one of the country’s fastest growing states:

#1 – “You break it, you own it” — Colin Powell’s famous words to George W. Bush regarding the Iraq invasion he was about to embark upon seem especially apt now — not just for Trump supporters, but for the “mainstream” Republicans (i.e. the Bushes, Burrs, Kochs, McCains and their ilk) who refused to actively campaign against him. While those of us who opposed Trumpism must do our duty to offer a responsible opposition, help make our country work and fight for that in which we believe, the hard reality right now is that the political Right holds essentially all the levers of national power. When the stock markets dive or Russia flexes its muscle in Eastern Europe or Greenland starts to melt faster, it will be they who must fashion responses. One can only hope with all one’s heart that they know how big the stakes are and have some means of bringing helpful responses to bear.

#1A – Be sure to thank the Art Popes, John Hoods and Koch Brothers of the world for the Trump win — In keeping with #1, it’s important to point out the conservatives (like Pope, Hood and the Kochs) who derided Trump as personally unfit to serve but refused to do the only possible honorable thing and actually help Secretary Clinton win, must now take some responsibility for whatever happens next. Maybe things will be okay (again, let’s hope so), but the simple fact is that there were smart, wealthy and enormously powerful American conservatives who knew Trump was a dangerous loose cannon and that Clinton was the path to economic stability and a more secure planet, but who ultimately refused to help defeat him because of selfish parochial and partisan concerns. Merely staying neutral and somehow equating the “sins” of the two candidates was a coward’s way out.

#2 – Roy Cooper’s, Josh Stein’s and Judge Mike Morgan’s wins are modest solace for North Carolina progressives – It’s a hell of a mess that these three men will be forced to confront and their power to make much of a difference will be greatly constrained by national circumstances and the state-level forces arrayed against them, but securing the Governor’s office (at least apparently), the Attorney General’s seat and a majority on the state Supreme Court are no small matter for progressives. Especially when the presidential race was going so disastrously wrong, it reflects a stinging repudiation of Gov. Pat McCrory and his four years in office.

#3 – We are still an evenly divided and rapidly evolving nation and state – The plain and simple truth we wake up to this morning is that we were and are a 50/50 nation when it comes to politics and ideology. The same is equally true in numerous states like North Carolina. What’s more, we remain in the midst of a period of rapid demographic shifts that don’t figure to stop. The nativists and others fearful of change and modernity may have eked out an electoral win last night at the national level, but they do not have a mandate for radical change and will not be able to resist the demographic tides that continue to sweep the country (or modernity itself, for that matter). President-elect Trump will be President of all Americans come January and Governor-elect Cooper will be Governor of all North Carolinians — both of which feature divided and fast-changing polities. Again, let’s hope and pray they recognize and honor these realities.

Commentary

AIDS Action Network activist explains what’s at stake today

The following essay was authored by Christina Adeleke, Communications and Development Coordinator for the NC AIDS Action Network.

Why more is at stake this election than you think

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you will likely already know that Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day across the United States. To say that this election cycle has been hard to watch would be an understatement. The news cycle has been primarily focused on the general public’s disdain towards the candidates and the nasty attacks and harmful rhetoric that has been on display for the world to see (and hear). While having to select the next leader of the free world in these conditions may seem to be disheartening for some, we still need to participate in the political process because too much is at stake.

In addition to voting for our next President in the national election, we will also be voting in state and local level elections, which has more of a direct impact on our day-to-day lives. Here are a couple of things to consider if you are wondering what is at stake in this election and if you should even bother heading to the polls: Read more

Commentary

This year’s election got you down? Here is one solution

Melissa Price Kromm, the Executive Director of N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, has a shared a timely pep talk with us this morning that is directly on point and worth filing in your memory bank on this, the morning before Election Day 2016.

Attack ads got you down? Support Voter-Owned Elections!

By Melissa Price Kromm

The 2016 election is upon us and it’s evident that democracy is in peril. We can all agree that our system isn’t working as it should for ordinary Americans. The problem is that today very few people can run for office who aren’t either extremely wealthy or connected to wealthy people. As a result, there are few people in office who genuinely share most people’s perspectives or life experiences. As it stands, we all pay a price in our daily lives for a system being out of balance.

The bottom line is that wealthy special interests have far too much power in deciding who can run and what politics our representatives will consider when they are elected.

We need to restore balance to our system and make it possible for regular people to run for office. We need to attract the most qualified people that want to go into public service and make sure that they aren’t excluded by the barriers of big money. That’s why we need practical solutions like small-donor matching systems for funding elections that will level the playing field and make candidates listen to the voters, not big donors.

This is a critical time for our state. North Carolina is being called “ground zero” for 2016, with a marquee race for governor, the balance of the Supreme Court, as well as competitive races for U.S. Senate and more seats in the General Assembly. And not to mention, North Carolina is the closest and purest swing state in the nation! This means big money has been flooding our airwaves and having an unprecedented chance to influence your vote.

The good news is that there is a fast-growing movement of people taking action to solve the problem. Overwhelming majorities of Americans understand that big-money politics is killing our democracy and there are efforts nationwide to change it. Poll after poll shows that voters think special interest donors have way too much influence over public policy. Citizens want real reform that works in the interest of average people. Money in politics is a key election year issue. Our time is now. We can fight and continue to move forward, expanding reform and opportunity in our democracy. Or we can go backwards, allowing special interests to gain more power and influence, eroding the very idea of “one person, one vote.”

Over the years our country has overcome many challenges. We are resilient problem solvers.  This should be no different. Together, we can restore the balance to our democracy and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and every voice matters.

Commentary

Editorial: “Insane,” right-wing inspired voter purges in NC raise big concerns

Voting rightsAs an A.P story on WRAL.com reported this week, a federal judge in Greensboro has referred to North Carolina’s method for purging voters from the rolls “insane” during a hearing in a lawsuit brought by the NAACP:

“North Carolina’s process for challenging voters’ registration seems to harken to a bygone era when fewer safeguards were in place, a federal judge said Wednesday as she presided over a lawsuit that alleges voters are being purged unfairly.

Lawyers for North Carolina countered that state data shows only a sliver of names have been removed from county rolls in the past two years — fewer than 7,000 statewide out of 6.8 million registered voters.

The comments came during an emergency hearing over NAACP allegations that at least three counties purged voter rolls through a process disproportionately targets blacks”

Now, this morning’s lead editorial in the Fayetteville Observer asks some excellent questions about what the heck is going on. Here’s an excerpt:

“What’s going on with our election? We’re seeing worrisome things, and we’re not just talking about the problematic races high up on our ballots.We’re talking about the basic right to vote here in Fayetteville, and reasons why the feds feel a need to watch our polling places.

In U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem on Wednesday, Judge Loretta Biggs several times used the word ‘insane’ to describe the way names are purged from voter rolls in North Carolina. The issue is in Biggs’ courtroom because of a challenge by the state NAACP, which says counties are violating federal law by purging voters from the list less than 90 days before the election.

State elections officials say 6,700 challenged voters have been removed from the rolls in the past two years. About 5,600 of them were in Cumberland County. In August and September, 4,500 challenges were lodged in Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties alone.”

The editorial notes that the Justice Department is sending poll watchers to our state even as a far right group known as the Voter Integrity Project is leading the charge on the purge:

“The purges of voter rolls here have come at the behest of retiree Michael Hyers, who is working with the N.C. Voter Integrity Project, which is active in Moore County as well. Hyers insists he has carefully followed the letter of the law in challenging thousands of voter registrations in the past few years. But in court Wednesday, Judge Biggs was critical of that law. ‘This sounds like something that was put together in 1901,’ she said, and later told Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefield that, ‘It almost looks like a cattle call, the way people are being purged.’

Biggs is expected to rule on the NAACP suit quickly. This could produce last-minute chaos, but if that’s the price of insuring that legitimately registered voters aren’t disenfranchised, so be it.

Meanwhile, we’re hoping Justice Department officials will shed more light on why they’re sending poll watchers here, because the one thing we can all agree on is that voter confidence in the electoral process is essential to a functional democracy.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary

Editorial: “Stalled Court should be unthinkable”

Be sure to check out this morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer, “Stalled Court should be unthinkable.” Here’s an excerpt:

“They speak of their intentions, these Republicans do, as if a president’s duty to nominate members of the U.S. Supreme Court was nothing more than a checkoff of Oval Office duties. So if the next president is Hillary Clinton, GOP senators including North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Arizona’s John McCain, say they’ll just resist Clinton’s nominees, and leave the court with its current eight justices, and perhaps fewer if other sitting members leave the court. Thus, one of the three branches of this democracy would be weakened and damaged, perhaps beyond repair.

There have been times when some nominees didn’t pass muster because of their own records or what was viewed by some senators as extreme views — Bork, Carswell, Haynsworth. In other cases, nominees were seen even by allies of the president’s party as underqualified. In modern history, it’s true that those rejected have been put up by Republican presidents, and that may be part of the source of the resistance to Clinton’s potential nominees.

But the Senate Democrats did give approval for a controversial nominee, Clarence Thomas. And many Democrats backed the late Antonin Scalia, an arch-conservative with a formidable intellect. Democrats knew he would not be supportive of their views, but they also knew he was qualified. They felt the same way about current Chief Justice John Roberts.

It appears, however, that arguments about the court are now far more intense, more partisan, more ideological. For senators to say they’ll leave seats vacant is astonishing. And it would render the justice system, and the legislative system, in a state of chaos….

The Supreme Court is vital to ensure consistency in the drawing of the law by legislatures and the enforcement of it. There must be a final authority.

Presidents should consult with leaders of Congress on high court appointments. But the American voters in effect signal their preferences in judicial philosophy every four years, when they vote for president knowing that he or she will have the power to appoint federal judges. So in a real sense, those senators such as Burr, McCain and others who say they’ll ignore the nominees of a president of a different party are also ignoring that most fundamental guiding principle of America’ freedoms — the will of the people.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.