Tuesday, 08 September 2020
Written by D.G. Martin
Back in 1984 when I was running for Congress, I ran into older people who explained why they could not support me, saying, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.”
Even in those days, the Democratic Party still had many conservatives who were loyal adherents. They had grown up in the times when the Democratic Party was more conservative than the other party. Some of those older Democrats were slow to give up their heritage and break away from the group in which they grew up.
But as the support in the Democratic Party for school desegregation, voting rights, Civil Rights, equal treatment in the workplace, and expanding the role of government in providing public resources to meet the needs of poor and underserved communities were viewed with skepticism by once loyal Democrats.
Republicans responded with a “southern strategy” that played to these concerns and, more and more, as time passed, former Democrats left their party. “I didn’t leave my party. It left me.”
Even after more than 35 years I remember that refrain.
Today, in the age of Trump, some North Carolina Republicans are, with regret, leaving their party, explaining, “I didn’t leave my party. It left me.”
In the Aug. 24 edition of The New Yorker, Peter Slevin wrote about three Republican members of the Transylvania board of commissioners who have given up their party affiliation.
Forgive this personal aside. One of the happiest summers of my life was spent in that mountain county in 1958, when I was a counselor at Camp Carolina near Brevard. On overnight hikes I told my campers ghost stories about Dracula. I had them believing that there was a connection between Dracula’s home in Europe’s Transylvania region and the Transylvania County where they were camping.
The three commissioners party change began when the commission’s chair, Mike Hawkins, heard about President Donald Trump’s speech at East Carolina University on July 17, 2019. The president attacked four Democratic congressional representatives and women of color, saying that they were “hate-filled extremists” and “You know, they don’t love our country.”
In response to the president’s attack on Representative Ilhan Omar, the crowd at ECU chanted, “Send her back!”
According to Slevin, at the next board meeting, Hawkins “called out the president saying that what happened was racist. It’s important that people identify hate for what it is—a poison to our state and to our country. And I wanted to say in a very public way that for whatever time I have remaining as an elected official, I will oppose this poison every way I can.”
After Hawkins, two other Republicans on the board, Page Ives Lemel and David Guice, offered words of support. Five months later, all three resigned from the Republican Party.
They could have been saying, “We didn’t leave our party. It left us.”
Guice had been a long-time active Republican and served two terms in the General Assembly.
Page Lemel owns and runs Camp Keystone near Brevard, as did her late father, Bill Ives, whom I knew when he served in the General Assembly in the 1990s. Bill Ives was conservative, public-spirited, open-minded and open-hearted, like his daughter.
Another prominent Republican in the mountains, former North Carolina State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, has broken with the president. He spent his life supporting the party and working for good causes until 2016 when he could not support Trump’s candidacy.
This year he is working hard against Trump, but refuses to leave his party. Obviously, he thinks he is more of a real Republican than the president.
Lemel says she has no intention of reversing her decision. That, Slevin writes, raises questions about the future of the GOP. History and logic suggest that the Party must pivot toward the center to remain viable in the years ahead.”
Or others will be saying, “We didn’t leave our party. It left us.”
Pictured Left to right: Mike Hawkins, Page Ives Lemel, David Guice.
Tuesday, 08 September 2020
Written by Pitt Dickey
Has the world been too much with you lately, Binky? Social isolation and mask fights with total strangers getting you down? Can you remember B.C., the time Before Corona? Recall those thrilling days of B.C. when you could go to a restaurant without worrying the patron who coughed was going to send you into the tender arms of a ventilator to enjoy chemically induced coma dreams. We are now living in A.T., or the After Times. The Rona, like the Force, is with us. Times are frustrating if you believe in The Rona.
What if you don’t believe in The Rona? You are just as frustrated. In your world, the Rona talk is just fake news and fake dead people. Americans believing in Rona are sheeple to be scorned, or worse. You know the truth, and they don’t. The After Times is double-plus ungood because you are surrounded by dummies. According to Mr. Google, the QAnon believe “that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles running a global child sex trafficking ring is plotting against Donald Trump, who is battling them.” That’s a pretty dark place in which to live. No wonder you are upset.
One subset of Americans believes in A, and another subgroup believes in Not-A. This might not work out well. With the shutdown of much of the economy, many Americans are spending time binge-watching their personal cable news silo and social media feed, leaving little time for interaction with Americans who don’t believe as they do. If you don’t talk to people with different beliefs, it is easy to believe that your team is righteous, and the other team are evildoers who should be
As the column ‘Can this marriage be saved’ in Ladies Home Journal used to ask back in the 1950s, can the American marriage be saved? Sure, it can. We need to find something both sides can agree upon. Like Merlin the magician, I have the answer to bring us together again. It is too much to expect both sides will like the same thing. Positivity is so 20th Century. If we can’t find something both sides like, admire the other side of the coin to find something both sides can dislike.
Negativity, like Bit O’ Honey candy’s old slogan, goes a long, long way. Hate will bring us together.
So, what should we hate collectively? Can’t be the Russians, as one side admires Putin’s strongman tactics. I pondered this question for at least five minutes before coming up with the answer. Like John Prine once said, “I’ve got muscles in my head that have never been used.”
Suddenly, a muscle in my head twitched. Imitating Archimedes in the bathtub, I yelled” Eureka!” I found the solution. Obnoxious TV commercials were the answer. These ads show up on Fox and CNN. They reach both audiences in America.
Everybody hates certain ads. Everybody sees them. Hate is all you need to reunite the country. As someone once said about the boxer Riddick Bowe, I had a spasm of lucidity which might save the country from Civil War 2.
Ponder the Navage Nose Cleaner ads for a product that will make your sinuses so clean that you can eat off them. It has salt pods. It has powered suction. It will suck the dust mites and cooties right out of your head with a device that resembles the space creature from the movie “Alien.” Remember that great scene in “Alien” where a critter jumps out of a space egg and attaches itself to John Hurt’s helmet and then into his sinuses? Every time I see the Navage ad, I think of a hungry space alien yearning to suck out my brains. It would not be much of a meal. But it is an ad that Don Draper of Sterling Cooper would be proud of because it is as obnoxious as it is unforgettable.
Another product which could unite Americans in dislike is “Pure Zzzs,” which Vicks advertises as Kidz Melatonin Gummies. It is a blend of “botanical essential oils, including lavender and chamomile,” which will put little Jimmy to sleep naturally without drugs. The ad says Zzzs are “natural berry-flavored gummies. Convenient and great tasting gummies that kids love — so you both will be looking forward to bedtime.” Remember candy cigarettes that tobacco companies used to push to get kids started on the sophistication of smoking? Mom, Pop and the little tyke will all look forward to Junior taking a hit of melatonin gummies to go to sleep and stop whining. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, particularly for Vicks. What could go wrong with a product that tastes yummy and puts kids to sleep? Kids would never think to dose themselves with what they think is candy would they?
Hate will keep us together. Think of commercials you can’t stand. Call up a former friend you stopped speaking to due to their political views. Tell them about commercials you hate. Renew “Auld Lang Syne.” Sing them some modified love songs substituting “Hate” for “Love.” Ask them to sing along with you. Here are some suggestions: The Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Hate?” Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Hatred.” Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Hate.” Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in
Hate.” Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares to Hate.” Celine Dionne’s “The Power of Hate.” Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Hate You.”
You get the idea. All you need is hate to make America united again. Find an ad you despise and share it with a former friend. Instead of hating each other, hate commercials. It’s the American way.