VOTERS TO LEGISLATORS: STOP FIGHTING THE GOVERNOR, COOPERATE AND COMPROMISE: We hear a clear message from North Carolinians in their vote for governor. They want a government that meets the state’s needs with quality services and is striving for the best – whether that be schools, health services, economic opportunity or quality of life. They have had enough of the legislature’s wasteful, bargain-basement mediocracy. Being just OK, muddled and middling, isn’t good enough and doesn’t meet the expectations of the electorate. This means that there needs to be an end to legislative leaders take-it or leave-it modus operandi. It is time for legislators to work WITH the governor and not uncompromisingly against him. When the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 13, 2021, Berger and Moore should signal, in clear terms., they have abandoned their chintzy, cut-rate, run-of-the-mill expectations and they, too, want excellence for North Carolina.
A MAJORITY OF U.S. CITIZENS SAVED DEMOCRACY, BUT NC DIMS THE VICTORY: Citizens ultimately did what vaunted institutions couldn’t manage. The U.S. Senate had eagerly proven itself grotesque, supine and corrupt. Executive branch toadies and lickspittle enabled every Trumpian transgression. Even military leaders bowed before the tyrant’s nauseating sway. Courts were rendered hapless by a long-embraced blight at the top – political hacks masquerading as justices. The nation’s dominant political party and most of its white evangelical religious leaders demonstrated there was no act too base for their ready embrace in a pitiful quest for power. But, finally, a committed, courageous and immensely diverse citizenry confronted the budding dictatorship of the vilest president in American history and cast him out. Then there was North Carolina. Most Tar Heels voted for Trump – untroubled by over 200,000 needless deaths and relentless paeans to racism. Republican lawmakers, yet again, maintained their poisonous lock on the statehouse. Political plodders and lathered ideologues ran strongly against able and inspiring N.C. Supreme Court justices. Republicans made gains in Council of State races. Our nation’s greatest democratizing moment and our state’s advancing wallow in southern bigotry are, to be sure, “opposing ideas in the mind.” But the conflict between them crushes our “ability to function.” It’s time to leave 1860 behind. A hundred and sixty years ought to be enough. But apparently it’s not.
BLACK LIVES MATTER IS ABOUT PEOPLE, NOT PARTISAN POLITICS: Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections asked the Carrboro Town Council to remove four Black Lives Matter flags from its Town Hall. The Town Hall also serves as an early voting site. Some voters claimed that the flags were inside the 50-foot zone where partisan activities are banned. The chairman of the Orange County Republican Party reported that he had received nearly 20 written complaints about the banners. After a closed meeting, the Carrboro council voted to keep the flags in their current location. Yet, the State Board of Elections has indicated that if Carrboro does not remove the flags, it may not allow Carrboro to use the Town Hall as a voting site in the future. Rogue police officers do not ask people of color – or white people - for voter registration cards before they decide to harm them. And while police violence most directly affects communities of color, it hurts our entire society by forcing us to question the motives of those we rely on to keep us safe. For a government to succeed, all its citizens must feel valued. By flying the flags, Carrboro attempted to show its Black citizens that it recognizes their struggle. By pushing Carrboro to remove them, the State Board of Elections is essentially forcing the town to tell its Black citizens – regardless of party - that their pain and their lives do not matter. The Board should instead follow the lead of the federal government and recognize that the loss of innocent American lives is not a partisan issue.
TRUMP'S PURGES ARE SPREADING, AND IT'S DANGEROUS: The DHS dismissals, The Post reports, are part of a loyalty test imposed by 30-year-old White House Presidential Personnel Office director John McEntee. Anyone who doesn’t demonstrate absolute fealty to the president fails. Valerie Boyd helmed DHS’s international affairs until her ouster this week; Bryan Ware played a senior policy role at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The head of that agency, Christopher Krebs, has told associates he fears he, too, will be pushed out of his position. The possible purge at CISA is especially alarming because of how closely tied the agency is to the protection of the election the lame-duck Mr. Trump continues, baselessly, to contest. The DHS employees, it appears, are being punished for exemplary performance at an imposing task: coordinating with the thousands of local elections authorities to identify security vulnerabilities, and then communicating those vulnerabilities to the public without raising unnecessary alarm about the integrity of our system. They are also paying for their honesty about the outcome of the election. The success of CISA’s cybersecurity efforts enabled Mr. Krebs this week to commit what likely constitutes a sin in the eyes of the administration: joining many of those same local officials to release a statement declaring the election “the most secure in American history.” The evisceration of CISA is appalling on principle, and taken together with the threats to the rest of the national security apparatus, it is deeply dangerous in practice — which perhaps accounts for the well-placed pushback from some congressional Republicans against the firing of Ms. Haspel in particular. They ought to keep pushing, and harder. Perhaps a vindictive president simply seeks to settle with those who have not unfailingly bowed down to him, or to deliver a crippled government to the administration to come. But it could be that his aim, as he continues his frivolous challenges to the election, is more nefarious even than that. The outcome will be the same: a country protected by shells of the institutions responsible for keeping it safe, and therefore vulnerable both to adversaries abroad and to its own defeated leader.
PRESIDENT TRUMP, PACK YOUR BAGS AN BE GONE: He can’t. He won’t. It’s not in the man. Truth is unbearable. Fraud! Rigged! Trump can no more accept defeat than recall the fact that he took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His only vow is to preserve, protect and defend himself. He has never been able to see beyond that orange face in the mirror. No Bible offers consolation to this man, no creed, no truth, no sense of decency, not even Fox News now, nothing. Even Ted Olson, who successfully argued for then-candidate George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, says it’s over and Biden is president-elect, The National Law Journal reported. Except that it’s not over. Desperation drives Trump to look, still, for a means to secure what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says it’s not over. They are complicit in a power grab. It’s come to this in the United States of America. Trump has always been a danger to democratic institutions and the rule of law. He’s empowered dictators across the world. I’ve witnessed elections stolen in places like Iran. I never thought I would see an attempt to deny the will of the American people. My colleague Maggie Haberman described a recent White House meeting where Trump pressed to know “whether Republican legislatures could pick pro-Trump electors in a handful of key states and deliver him the electoral votes he needs to change the math and give him a second term.” This is Trump’s so-called Hail Mary plan. In plain language, it’s a potential political coup. The state legislatures of Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania are Republican-controlled. How does this look to a man like Trump who, as my friend Greg Schwed, a lawyer, put it to me, has never “failed to take the path that would preserve his vanity and power, no matter what law or tradition it would violate?” This is a column I never thought I would write. But better to write it than to be blindsided. The world needs an American democracy restored, rid of its brooding ruler, and led by the man who won, Joe Biden. End of story.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ALLISON FISK: PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN MUST ACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE QUICKLY: President-elect Joe Biden has an unprecedented road ahead, not only healing the wounds of a divided country but a planet scarred from the effects of climate change. During his speech on climate change in September, Biden said: “I want you to know that we can do this. We will do this. We are America. We see the light through the dark smoke. We never give up. Always. Without exception. Every time.” I hope that Biden is right. I hope that America can unite on climate change. To do it, we must unite as a country, back science, and act on an impending crisis. Our time is running out before we hit the ecological tipping point.
YANCEY ROBERTSON: NO, IT SHOULD NOT BE CALLED THE "TRUMP" VACCINE: I must take exception to the Nov. 11 letter suggesting that the Pfizer COVID vaccine be named the Trump Vaccine. The writer mentions Pfizer as being part of Operation Warp Speed and that Trump developed, as promised, a vaccine in record time. To set the record straight, Dr. Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at the company, said, “We were never part of the Warp Speed,” referring to the government efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government or from anyone.” In July, the drug maker agreed to partner with the government only to distribute a vaccine, “leveraging what will be a massive, complicated effort run by the federal government to ensure that as many people as possible be immunized.” But the actual development efforts had nothing to do with the Trump administration, Jansen emphasized.
MARIYA SHAIKH: WE STAND STRONGER AFTER THIS ELECTION: As a proud immigrant Muslim-American, it has been a blessing to see the solidity of our election process. I am grateful that my children (first-time voters and younger) got to see how every vote matters and what an important part each person plays in the future of our country. I hope this generation learns to never be complacent with their privilege, never to let their country take a backseat by caving in to divisive rhetoric. America stands stronger today because of its institutions. This is what the founding fathers worked hard to build. This is what inspired millions to immigrate. This is what we need to work to uphold. This is what makes America truly “great.”