Signs of a welcome shift, part two

Signs of a welcome shift, part two

- in Fitzsimon File

Just a month after an encouraging October election, voters in North Carolina and across the country continued their rejection of extremist right-wing politics Tuesday.

Wake County voters re-elected progressive incumbent Kevin Hill to the school board. Hill’s defeat of Republican tea party challenger Heather Losurdo in their runoff election means the two-year reign of error of the conservative majority determined to resegregate the schools is over.

Voters in four counties and the City of Durham approved local sales tax increases over the vigorous opposition of the anti-government activists and right-wing think tanks.

Greensboro voters kicked a first-term hard right conservative Republican mayor out of office in favor of a moderate Republican who enjoyed widespread support among progressives.

And Democratic Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx easily won reelection in the hometown of the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, former mayor Pat McCrory.

Democrats also gained a seat on the city council in Charlotte by winning all four of the at-large races. It seems McCrory’s neighbors are not so thrilled with the Republican agenda he supports.

The shift back toward common sense isn’t just happening in North Carolina. Mississippi voters defeated an astonishingly extreme far-right constitutional amendment that would have banned all abortions and most forms of birth control by defining life as beginning at conception.

Voters in Ohio overwhelmingly rejected Republican Governor John Kasich’s move to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers and Maine voters reinstated same day voter registration.

Kentucky voters reelected their Democratic governor to another term just two years after electing tea party favorite Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate.

The message of Tuesday’s election seems clear. Voters may still be worried about the economy and not thrilled with the way things are going in Washington, but they do not agree with the far right’s attacks on education, reproductive rights, and public investments.

Voters lashed out in anger at the polls in 2010 because they were worried about their jobs and scared of where the economy was headed. But they didn’t vote for the extreme ideological agenda of the people they sent to Raleigh and Washington.

The election results come in the wake of a recent Elon University Poll that finds not only do people in North Carolina support raising taxes on millionaires, they overwhelmingly believe Republicans in Congress are far less willing to work with President Obama on important issues than he is willing to work with them.

The right wing agenda of slashing and burning and obstructing is wearing thin on families trying to make ends meet. They want something done, not everything stopped. They want progress, not ideology. And they want jobs, not gay marriage amendments and abortion debates.

The election results in October and Tuesday’s reinforcement of them also may explain why Republicans in North Carolina are now publicly trying to distance themselves from many of their own decisions, from firing teachers to abolishing popular programs like the N.C. Teaching Fellows to threatening services for seniors and people with disabilities by slashing Medicaid funding.

The more people learn about that extreme right-wing agenda, the less willing they are to support people who espouse it. And they are learning plenty.



About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.