In recent days, longserving Democrat, James W. Crawford of Oxford in Granville County has attained a new and shocking level of notoriety as the ringleader of the infamous Party of Five collaborators who voted with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. The poisonous fruit of this nefarious conspiracy will impose a disastrous budget featuring draconian cuts of $900 million to the University of North Carolina as well as slashing funds for Planned Parenthood and Medicaid in what many now see as a political pact with the devil.
While the Party rank and file is stunned to see senior Democrat Crawford openly conspiring with Republicans to topple the bright, shining edifice of public instruction built by progressive Democratic leaders in the mold of Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt, little is generally known about his political ideology and his personal background. Crawford's background is a fascinating case of political devilry.
Many know that Crawford married a rich heir to the Cannon fortune, and he lost the 1992 primary for Lieutenant Governor to Dennis Wicker. But few realize that Crawford embodies a political ideology that is now becoming extinct. Crawford's political backstory is illuminating.
Inspired by former Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, Billy Watkins, Crawford arrived in the Legislature in 1982 during the era of Ronald Reagan and the rise of the Reagan Democrats. Billy Watkins was an old-fashioned Dixiecrat who had risen to a dubious form of political prominence in the early 1970s as the leading defense counsel to the Tills, who were indicted for the murder of Henry Marrow, the black victim of a racist killing in Oxford.
In recent years, the killing of Henry Marrow became famous with the publication of Blood Done Sign My Name by acclaimed author, Tim Tyson, of Duke University. Marrow's homicide stained the reputation of Oxford, and the crime returned to prominence last year in the a popular film based on Tyson's book that starred Nate Parker as the young Ben Chavis, the leading organizer of the protests that swirled around the killing. Racial tensions and the archaic attitudes of white supremacy were commonplace in mid-century Oxford, and many people see Crawford as a typical product of the aryan supremacist culture of his home community in the rural south.
People who know Crawford personally describe his political ideology as virtually indistinguishable from that of Billy Watkins. Throughout his long career, Crawford has steadfastly supported the creation of private schools to permit lily-white student bodies and lily-white faculties. One Oxford native said, "Crawford has exactly the same racist mindset as the Dixiecrats. Crawford supported Jesse Helms, and he was a model Jessecrat."
But, it gets worse (if that is imaginable) for Crawford not only shared his reactionary ideology with white supremacists, he raised money for major Republican candidates. When Crawford held lavish fundraising receptions for Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr at his palatial home in Oxford, he sent invitations to many people in the surrounding community. Crawford's allegiances with elitists and white supremacists surprised no one who knows him personally. One Oxford native said, "Crawford is a throwback to the plantations, when slaves sweated buckets in the blazing sun, and planters sipped ice cold mint juleps on the front porch fanned by young black slaves with huge ostrich plume fans."
Now in his late seventies, politicians who have known James Crawford over the years believe he has made a pact with the Republican devils regarding redistricting. In other words, in exchange for his support in demolishing higher education, damaging women and destroying the lives of the impoverished on Medicaid, Crawford has sold his vote for lines on the redistricted map of North Carolina -- and he persuaded four of his Democratic colleagues to do the same dance with the devil.
While North Carolina has no recall mechanism, Democrats should protest, demonstrate and file suit to delete Crawford from the Democratic Party and kick him out of the Legislature. Dinosaurs are extinct in North Carolina, and Dixiecrats should be extinct as well. There is no place for James Crawford in the Democratic caucus of 2011, much less 2012.
The treacherous members of the Party of Five and their phone numbers are:
- James W. Crawford of Granville (ringleader) 919-733-5824;
- William Brisson of Bladen 919-733-5772;
- Dewey Hill of Columbus 919-733-5830;
- Tim Spear of Washington 919-715-3029 and
- Bill Owens of Pasquotank 919-733-0010.
They are expecting your calls, and they would love to hear what you think about their pacts with the devil and whether they plan to vote with the Republicans to override the Governor's forthcoming veto - or not.