CHRIS FITZSIMON: What It Takes to Get Yourself Labeled a Left-Wing 'Insurgent'
The North Carolina Senate is turning into the Politburo, according to political analyst John Davis, formerly of the business group N.C. Free, which ranks legislators to determine how "business-friendly" they are.
Davis uses the announcement that Sen. David Hoyle is not running for re-election as the basis of an essay called "Liberal Insurgents End Basnight's Historic Era of Power."
Liberal insurgents? Does he mean progressive senators whom the voters of their districts sent to Raleigh? Not sure what is so insurgent about that, though the use of the word is probably not an accident, given its common use these days to describe the enemy in Iraq.
Davis proclaims that liberal urban lawyers are taking over the Senate, which he says means that "the Senate is no longer a safe haven for business." All of Davis' labels come from the N.C. Free rankings of each legislator on their business friendliness.
Many of the folks Davis seems so afraid of, Sens. Dan Blue, Martin Nesbitt and Dan Clodfelter, have business rankings over their careers in the General Assembly of 50 to 60 percent, putting them in the "occasional friends" category on N.C. Free's bizarre and misleading scale.
The rankings are based on a group of votes and the opinions of business lobbyists and corporate leaders. One of the votes used in this year's evaluation was a bill that would give local school boards more flexibility in deciding when the school year begins.
The supposedly "free enterprise" vote was against the legislation because the tourism industry doesn't like it. But more local control of schools has long been supported and proposed by conservatives and business interests alike. Not anymore. A vote for your local school system is a vote against business and helps make you an insurgent.
Another bill used in the rankings was legislation to set up a pilot program for public financing of local elections if local communities choose to participate. Once again, the "free enterprise" position is to deny local people a say in how their elections are conducted and whether or not candidates can run for office without relying on special-interest money.
The N.C. Free Foundation says the legislation "could serve to eliminate or substantially curtail the participation of Political Action Committees in local elections." Goodness knows we can't have that, less domination of the local elections by PACs of the Realtors and homebuilders. More democracy is anti-business and also helps make you an insurgent.
The rating system has never included votes on education or workforce development, or any state investment that improves the quality of life and creates jobs. It has long been a misleading way to evaluate legislators, and now it is being used to brand them insurgents bent on destroying the Senate's safe haven.
The last two words of Davis' essay are "vote Republican." Oh, now I get it.
Then there is the latest fundraising appeal from WakeUpAmerica.com, the hard-right Web site run by state Sen. Andrew Brock and state Rep. Bryan Holloway.
The solicitation not only includes the ridiculous rants about President Obama being a socialist, but also now claims that he has surrounded himself with "convicted felons, devout communists, and unaccountable czars with socialist roots." It is all part of his "radical, left-wing, socialist change."
And remember this is not some obscure Web site run by a guy in his pajamas in a basement in rural Idaho, though it often reads like it. These are the words and views of two elected members of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Wonder if Brock sees devout communists behind every tree in Raleigh too? N.C. State's colors are red and white, after all.
And where would we be without the folks from Popeville? Locker Jon Ham titled a recent blog post "Green means oppression." Apparently if you recycle, you are a fascist. But it's the climate change debate that really has them riled up.
George Leef praises one essay on the climate summit in Copenhagen by saying the writer has it exactly right, that the proposed treaty is an extremely costly and authoritarian nonsolution to an imaginary problem. Don't you feel better now about the future of the planet?
Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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