Raleigh—NC. Four years ago, North Carolina Democrats were handed their collective asses. We lost the trifecta: the House, the Senate and the Governor’s Manson. The Democrats had been in power since reconstruction, then all of a sudden we were hit with a shit storm in the form of voter backlash and, it seemed, nobody on our team brought an umbrella.
You may not like the language, but that pretty much sums up the the last four years in NC Democratic politics. But, in reality (I feel uneasy using the words reality and Democrat in the same sentence, but here goes)—in reality, we (Democrats) should have seen it coming from a mile away.
The Republicans mounted a grassroots effort (at least what they consider grassroots) fueled by a national Tea Party movement and waged war against the powerful Democratic machine. The Republicans dropped a little seed money all over the state and it took off like a wildfire. They won and we lost. We lost big.
Then, in 2012—after the NC GOP gerrymandered the districts by packing and stacking—the big money came into North Carolina and put the final nail in our Democratic coffin. Now, not only do we have to fight in districts so one-sided it’s painful—we have to do it with no straight party ticket, curtailed early voting, no more same day registration, no public campaign (finance) options, increased contribution limits (which benefit the Republicans) and, if that wasn’t enough, a big part of HB-589 that we don’t talk about eliminates “stand by your ad.”
We deserved what we got—
You read it right—there’s a part of me that believes we deserved everything handed to us by the voters. We were cocky, we were arrogant and we didn’t care because we thought we’d never lose. The Democrats (collectively in state politics) thought the money would never run out because of “who we were.” We were the party in power! We controlled the laws, we controlled the money (budget)—we controlled the entire game. We were the most important.
What’s more important, however, is that we failed the voters—the very people who trusted us to do the right thing.
That’s something we don’t talk too much about at our obsequious cocktail parties and high class dinner gatherings—you know the parties I’m talking about—the gatherings designed to pat ourselves on the back, drink a little too much and gossip about the latest “who’s who of who’s screwing whom.”
It’s okay—we hash everything else out in public—we might as well hash this out in public, too. There’s nothing wrong with those parties—hell, back in the day—I enjoyed them just as much as the younger crowd does today (a long time ago, before AARP started sending me discount coupons).
Take a breath—I’m not in the mood to name names—
But, my point is that we let the voters down. And, at some level, it’s just as much our fault the NC GOP stopped Medicaid expansion, cut unemployment benefits to the bone and, in general, made this the last state in the country you’d want to live in if you’re poor.
There’s a quote in this month’s issue of Esquire, UK that I love. It has nothing to do with politics or the social structure of humanity, it pertains to technology. But, it’s a perfect quote to use relating to the the U.S. political landscape and our socioeconomic failing pertinent to NC state politics and our responsibility to those less fortunate than ourselves:
Some will fail some will succeed and the ones who succeed will help the failures. At least that’s the theory.
So now we have two problems, that will result in an unfortunate but inevitable outcome, if we don’t figure out a way to get our collective shit together. Problems: 1) we don’t know how to handle not being in power and 2) we feel the need to gravitate back to the “good ol’ days” and use 20-30 year old formulas that helped make us the powerhouse we once were.
Let’s take the last problem first—
As much as I hate to say it—we need to acknowledge and come to terms with the fact that we’re not the party of yesteryear. We’re not playing the same game anymore—we have new rules and a new way of doing business. Hence, the NC GOP is in power.
As much as we respect and admire our old political soldiers—this is not the party of Terry Sanford. And, it’s not the party of Jim Hunt, either. It’s time to put that way of thinking to bed and it’s time to embrace the future of North Carolina politics. Telling a North Carolina Democrat that we need to back away from Jim Hunt(ism) is tantamount to sacrilege, but it’s true. Think about it this way: if the North Carolina Democratic party needs to pull our old retired general(s) into the frontlines of battle, we’ve got bigger problems. And, resurrecting the past isn’t going to solve them. Frankly, I’ve got too much respect for Jim Hunt than to feel the need to drag him into a Democratic mess he didn’t cause. Too much respect, even though I’ve yet to figure out why he felt the need to donate a thousand dollars to a Tea Party candidate running for the NC House in this election cycle.
Now, our second problem—
Four years after we lost Raleigh, we’re still running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Pointing fingers and blaming everyone but ourselves for our collective failings. Well, it’s time to stop! Cowboy up and get over it. It’s time to do something we’ve never done before: stop all the bickering and support our Democratic leaders—whomever they are and where ever they are. Back in the day, all of the name-calling didn’t really matter because we knew we’d have the House, the Senate and the Governor. Well, it’s not like that now. Our lack of decisiveness matters because we still have at least a few big donors that—for some reason—believe we collectively have the ability to do the right things for the right reasons.
Voller’s fault is that he’s too idealistic. He’s not a real politician. Don’t ya just hate it when that happens? We talk the talk saying we need more regular people—people who aren’t career politicians and political insiders. We tell them to get in the game to make our Democratic party better and more complete. But, when they do get some authority, put their lives on hold and put skin in the game—we treat them like shit if they don’t hold the same opinions we hold.
A good example is the latest “let’s hate Randy” episode: the Bob Geary article in The Indy. Never mind that Geary has some ulterior motives for hating Voller, never mind that he mixes a little fact with a lot of fiction and calls it truth and never mind that outside of the triangle, nobody knows who Geary is or cares that they don’t know. We take this and other articles like this as Gospel as if it were spoken by Jesus himself.
Then consultants, or as I like to call them “bottom feeders with blogs,” chime in to add fuel to the fire on Facebook—adding information they know or should know is totally inaccurate and untrue. All because Voller won’t cut them a check to do meaningless work for the Dems. My take on these Democratic consultants is that: if they are all that “smart” with their expertise, then why is the Democratic party sitting on the sidelines sucking its thumb hoping one day we can get back in the game? (I shouldn’t have to tell you where I think the other thumb is at.)
But, let me quickly give you just one example: take the Vegas trip, for instance. Voller knows (knew) some friends with a little money (well, more than just a little). Voller needs cash for the Democratic party (cause all the big money is now being paid to the NC GOP for political access) and figures hitting these guys up for money would be a quick and easy way to get some cash flow started. Voller decides the best way to hit these guys up is to meet in Sin City—cause it’s a lot easier to talk guys into writing you checks when they’re in a relaxed parting mood.
What happened? Voller puts 3K on an AmEx card that had his name on it. But, the AmEx card was tied to “what some thought was” an NCDP account. If he kept it like that it would all still be legit because he was there doing business for our dysfunctional messed up party.
Anyway, some people didn’t like the fact he was charging the NCDP for what they considered a personal party trip. Problem: a) trips like this had been done many times before by Dem leaders trying to pluck cash away from donor babies; b) that AmEx card was attached to a former NCDP employee’s personal credit line, not the NCDP—even though the NCDP paid the bills on that credit line; c) Voller paid the money back when he got back home to NC and heard people were bitching about it and; d) did anybody ever chance to wonder why the f*ck NCDP expenses were paid from AmEx cards attached to the personal account of a former employee? No! Did anybody ever chance to wonder if those cards had rebates…and if so, did anybody ever chance to wonder who got the benefit of those rebates, the person (former employee) or the NCDP? No! No! No!
There are other similar stories. All of the stories point back to “bottom feeders with a blog” —who have agenda’s of their own—twisting the facts in an effort to discredit Voller, hoping that when the Democratic machine returns to power—they’ll have a job. A job that enacts the spirit of the very patronage Voller has been trying to block since he was elected Chair of the NCDP.
Interestingly, these “bottom feeders” I’m speaking of jump on Facebook saying the NCDP has never been a grassroots organization…it’s been a “big tent” organization. While others, as well meaning as they are, say we need to promote absentee ballots as an effective way to push back the onslaught of NC GOP gerrymandering—to win back the House and Senate. Ah…right. Let me know how that works out.
In reality, what the “insiders”—the Democratic machine—is doing is hedging their bets. Pat McCrory is going to be a “one and done” Governor. Even though he’ll expand Medicaid in his last year (albeit, in a convoluted way), it won’t be enough to turn the tide. Roy Cooper will run and he will win. The only thing Cooper needs to do is NOT put his foot in his mouth and he’ll win by at least 54-56%. The Republicans know this. They know they can’t stop it. Why? Because they can count!
But, what the Republicans do know is that any Democratic governor will be ineffective unless he’s got a House and Senate (or at least one of the other) to back him. That’s the game plan. Stop the House and Senate from turning back to blue in 2014 and 2016. Voters will have an ineffective Democratic governor that the NC GOP can beat to death politically. They suspect voters will get pissed and elect another Republican governor after they get fatigued over Cooper. All because the Republicans will twist an ugly picture of the Dem governor with misinformation and pseudo facts. Much like the way bottom feeders attached to the Democratic machine are doing to Randy Voller now.
After all, they want you to hate the player. But, if you really want to make a difference. If you really want to win back voters and take the NCGA blue. If you really want to give a voice to those who otherwise would have no voice because of economic plight—then, DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME!