Some Things in Politics Still Matter
"R epublicrats," loosely translated, means "a pox on both your houses." It is a colloquialism that expresses the frustration of people for whom politics as it is practiced today is supercilious to the interests of working people.
Last Saturday, a woman at the sign-in table for a North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting was passing out stickers that said "Proud to be a Democrat." Given the mood of the people outside the Greensboro Marriott, I wasn't sure whether I was more proud to be a Democrat or chagrined to be a Republicrat.
Beverly Perdue understands. The governor stunned the party with her announcement that she would not seek a second term, citing the toxic culture of partisan politics as a primary reason for stepping aside. Outside the Sanford-Hunt-Frye Dinner, she lamented, "I've never seen such rabid partisanship. I've never seen such divisiveness."
She's right. Politics has become a scorched-earth battlefield where compromise is regarded as weakness and cooperation as treason.
Consider Richard Morgan, who was sacked by his own party for his willingness to share leadership of the N.C. House of Representatives. The new normal is U.S. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, demonstrating his contempt for the president by appearing uninterested and texting during an address delivered to a joint session of Congress.
It's Mitch McConnell declaring, "The single most important thing we (congressional Republicans) want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
The top priority of the minority leader of the United States Senate, as the country struggles through a deep recession, is not to lead, not to legislate, not to put people back to work, but to stifle the best efforts of the president to lead us out of the morass we find ourselves in.
There is no loyal opposition anymore, only mortal enemies. Public service has lost its luster. Fewer exceptional people are willing to wade into the cesspool we've made of government. Good people are dropping out, leaving - Republicrats. In a process where everyone is tainted and little is accomplished, does it really matter what side you're on?
It matters that, according to an Elon University poll, six out of 10 North Carolinians would rather pay an extra penny in sales tax than see further cuts to public education.
It matters that the governor vetoed a law that had the potential to disenfranchise 460,000 qualified North Carolinian voters - most of them minorities, students or the elderly - in the name of a law designed to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
It matters that The North Carolina Association of Educators will be able to keep its primary source of funding.
It matters that the nation's financial system was stabilized when it was on the verge of collapse.
It matters that 68,500 GM employees and 51,600 Chrysler employees still have jobs, that the vast majority of their companies' debts are paid, and the American auto industry thrives after it was counted out just three years ago.
It matters that two wars that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives are coming to an end.
It matters that 32 million more Americans will have health insurance and some protection against rising health care costs because of the Affordable Care Act.
Beside the entrance to the main ballroom at the Executive Committee meeting, there was a table with a sign that read "LGBT Democrats," where two people passed out cards urging committee members to vote "yes" to charter the organization.
The vote, taken just a few hours later, came as a pleasant surprise. It wasn't that the charter was approved. It wasn't even that, in a group of several hundred people, it passed unanimously. Rather, it was the unbridled enthusiasm with which the charter passed - garnering the largest standing ovation of a generally enthusiastic day.
It matters that one party stands up enthusiastically for the last group of law-abiding citizens that may be legally discriminated against in this country.
I lament that our country continues to be among the last developed countries to provide health care for all of its citizens.
I'm offended that we would cut aid to those who can least afford it to perpetuate a deflated tax rate for those who can best afford it.
I regret every shortfall and misstep that has made my party appear Republicrat. In time, this country may choose a course that yields us better options. Until that day, I am proud to be a Democrat.
Kevin Smith lives in Aberdeen. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story