Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Logo for NC Policy Watch series "The Path Forward - North Carolina's 2017 Political Landscape"
Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Hopeful signs for the path forward

Trump lights a fire under the American progressive movement; you can keep up and help

Well, this is it. The week that a sizable majority of Americans have been dreading is here and, come Friday at high noon, a morally bankrupt and utterly unqualified snake oil salesman will occupy the office of Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Obama.

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Will the GOP really sentence thousands of Americans to early deaths?

The stunning impact that repeal of Obamacare would produce

At the dawn of the Trump era in American politics, it’s important for caring and thinking people to guard against the use of hyperbole and alarmist rhetoric and to avoid making too many “the sky is falling pronouncements.” As was noted in this space last November, there are plenty of reasons to think that some of the worst components of Trumpism can be blunted or even defeated with a little luck and a lot of hard work. And, as North Carolinians have learned during six years of aggressive right-wing rule, the conservative movement is often a fractious, divided and mistake-prone crusade that is fully capable of committing absurd and self-destructive blunders. It can and will be defeated in the months and years ahead.

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Roy Cooper’s promising start

The new governor projects an image of competence, confidence, candor and a willingness to fight

It’s been less than 72 hours since the administration of North Carolina’s 75th governor got underway this past weekend when Roy Cooper took the oath of office just after midnight on New Year’s morning. Under normal circumstances, one wouldn’t expect any particularly noteworthy actions from the new chief executive for several days, or perhaps even weeks. Such a situation would seem especially likely (and excusable) for Cooper – someone who wasn’t even officially declared the winner in the November election until the onset of the Christmas holidays. Four years ago, one got the distinct impression at times that Pat McCrory was still figuring out his way around Raleigh several weeks after taking office.

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Bad news, good news in end-of-year conflict in Raleigh

There have been a lot of missives in recent weeks by people from North Carolina warning their fellow Americans about what it is they're about to endure under the coming era of right-wing rule in Washington. The basis for these warnings, of course, is the damage that’s been inflicted on the state since ideological conservatives took control of state government. The list is a long and sobering one and it includes, among many other things:

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Special session secrecy is outrageous regardless of what’s on the agenda

Whether it’s Hurricane relief, court-packing or something else, legislators should have provided details several days ago

The North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh today for a special, lame duck legislative session. The ostensible purpose is to take actions that would supplement ongoing efforts to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Matthew and recent wildfires that swept through the drought-parched western part of the state.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Trump’s America is already here in at least one important area

New Duke study helps confirm that conservative policies have damaged American racial equality and economic wellbeing

Here’s some news for the many conservative supporters of Donald Trump who yearn to “make America great again” – you know, like it supposedly was in the 1950’s: In a very important and troubling way, we’re already there.

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Lessons Governor-elect Cooper should take from the Obama presidency

In these divided times, there’s precious little common ground to find with the right-wing opposition

With Gov. Pat McCrory’s efforts to stave off his political demise by casting doubts upon the 2016 election results now, finally and blessedly, all but over, it’s past time to start talking seriously about how Governor-elect Roy Cooper should approach his new job. Indeed, Cooper’s inauguration is now set to take place just 37 days from now, so there’s no time to waste.

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Thanksgiving resolutions

In the time of Trump, waiting till New Year’s is not an option

For a lot of progressive websites and publications, it’s become a holiday tradition in recent years to feature “how to talk to your conservative relatives about policy and politics” essays at this time of year – especially prior to Thanksgiving. The usual premise is that progressives can win a little peace and grudging acceptance from conservative relatives if they offer up some incontrovertible facts along with a few olive branches and areas of common ground. A few years back, we went so far in this space as to offer up “five fast facts that might help you win (and five areas of common ground that might help you keep the peace).” Last year, colleagues at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center propounded some “Thanksgiving talking points on taxes and the economy.”

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A lot more passion and a lot more pragmatism

Defeating ignorance, racism and xenophobia will take much more than marches, alliances of convenience and poll-tested candidates

As is almost always the case, last week’s presidential election result is giving rise to lots of soul searching and self-flagellation on the side that lost. All across America, Democrats and progressives (two overlapping, but hardly identical groups) are asking themselves what went wrong and how they can turn things around going forward. Thousands of individuals are taking new vows to become active and engaged in the political process and the effort to combat Trumpism.

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Keep calm, stay engaged
Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

A pep talk for progressives

Reasons for hope; reasons to keep working

It’s been a devastating last 36 hours or so for millions of caring and thinking people in the United States and around the world. The very notion that Donald Trump (a man that one of North Carolina’s best known arch-conservatives described earlier this year as “completely unqualified to be commander-in-chief and…a contemptible human being”) is soon to occupy the Oval Office as the world’s most powerful human is, in some ways, a profoundly sobering – even terrifying – thought.

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Altered beyond recognition?

The conservative remake of North Carolina at the six-year mark

A year ago, the staff of NC Policy Watch released a special report on the conservative policy revolution that has overtaken our state during the current decade entitled Altered state: How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina.

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A common sense step for the common good

Why Wake County’s transit referendum deserves a “yes” vote

There are a lot of things that make North Carolina such a desirable and fast-growing state – comparatively mild weather, natural beauty, mostly livable cities and the sense that, notwithstanding the efforts of state leaders in recent years, we are not Alabama or Mississippi. This is especially true in the Triangle, where the combined impact of a diversified economy, large universities, hundreds of thousands of transplants and immigrants and a mostly progressive group of local governments have combined to produce one of the nation’s most promising geographic regions.

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Lots of people will suffer and die unless we get much better at this

Hurricane Matthew shows it’s past time to get serious about adapting to climate change

There are a lot of vital and specific near-term public policy issues that present themselves right now in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and the latest round of devastating floods it has spawned in eastern North Carolina. This week, NC Policy Watch is devoting several special articles to some of them including, for instance: How in the heck do we preserve the right to vote in places in which thousands of people have lost everything (not to mention the means to travel to their polling places) just days before a general election?

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Political lessons from a surprising source

What progressives can learn from Franklin Graham and his ilk

For a lot of caring and thinking people, the end of the current election cycle cannot come fast enough. Especially, of course, at the presidential level, there is a palpable sense shared by tens of millions of Americans that what they are watching simply can’t be happening. Even a few years ago, the notion that the contest for the most important elected office on the planet would descend into a debate over one candidate’s recorded discussion of sexual behavior and promise to jail his opponent if elected was unimaginable.

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Of empty chairs and empty politics

Historic Supreme Court vacancy symbolizes the failure of conservative leaders in Washington to govern

Advocates around the country are making a series of special deliveries to several United States senators today in order to symbolize one of the greatest failures in American government in recent decades. At appointed times, the advocates will deliver miniature chairs to a list of senators – let’s hope North Carolina’s Thom Tillis and Richard Burr are on the list – who have participated in the ongoing and inexcusable blockade of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

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Attacking the messenger for delivering some hard truths

The Right launches another barrage of scurrilous attacks on the NAACP’s Rev. William Barber

As was discussed in this space a couple of years back when the Moral Mondays movement was center stage, there are few things that the political right in North Carolina loves more than bashing the Rev. William Barber. No matter what Barber actually says or how eloquent and insightful he is or how many personal sacrifices he makes or how many near-24 hour days he puts in in service of the causes of peaceful change and human rights, you can rest assured that uninformed blowhards will employ every tool in the character assassination toolbox to smear him and cue all of the worst racist dog whistles.

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