Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

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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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

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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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

The Right pushes another whopper about the NC economy

Why recent conservative claims about state income growth are flat out wrong

It’s understandable (and perhaps even a little poignant) that some on the right have been trying so hard of late to put a positive spin on the state of the North Carolina economy. If there’s even the tiniest snippet of encouraging economic news out there these days – anywhere – you can rest assured that conservative politicians and “think tankers” will seize upon it, gather round it and hold it aloft like ancient cavepeople celebrating the discovery of a shiny ingot.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

An election year switcheroo on public education

After bashing teachers and public schools for years, the Right suddenly and dramatically changes its tune

Last week, one of the most prolific conservative voices on Twitter when it comes to North Carolina policy and politics (he’s authored more than 33,000 “tweets” in recent years that often echo and promote takes of various Art Pope Empire employees) posted a disturbing and remarkably cynical comment. Here’s what he said in response to another social media participant who had questioned the logic of how North Carolina pays teachers and touted a recent essay by the North Carolina Justice Center’s Kris Nordstrom entitled “Why NC is not measuring teacher pay properly (and how we should do it)” :

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

It’s not too late for the U.S. Senate to do its job

The facts of the Merrick Garland nomination still demand action (and indicate that it may still be possible)

“Better late than never.”

It’s an unfortunate aspect of modern American politics that this simple little aphorism of compromise and common ground is frequently derided and discarded as the language of “losers.” In today’s hyper-partisan world of supersized egos, pitched ideological battles and “winner take all” government, it’s frequently seen as a sign of weakness for politicians to admit an error and reverse course or for their opponents to accept such a change with grace and understanding. It’s better to plow ahead (or to accuse the other side of a “flip flop”) and score points with one’s political base – or, at least, so goes the thinking in some circles.

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Fitzsimon File Weekly Briefing

Attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the courts

Conservatives channel their 1960’s obstructionist roots on voting rights

A few weeks back, North Carolina’s most powerful conservative political financier, Art Pope, offered a highly critical take on the insurgent presidential candidacy of Republican nominee Donald Trump. As Time magazine reported, Pope said the following at a Koch Brothers donors’ summit: “I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this since George Wallace.”

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

A major failure for conservative policymaking

One of the greatest strengths of President Franklin Roosevelt – especially in the early days of his first administration when he was conducting what amounted to lifesaving CPR on the American economy (and maybe even preserving the nation’s experiment with democratic government itself) was his candid willingness to try new things. Though he is often castigated by conservatives and lionized by liberals for having birthed the New Deal and the idea that the federal government has a duty to combat poverty, FDR was, at heart, a genuine pragmatist.

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