"Sold" and Maxway and Roses: Nothing new in NC

I am going to say something here that I have said privately for years, but will not publish as a writer. Your new "logo" with the Maxway and Roses 'stickers' applied to our state flag are nothing new in NC politics, regardless of political party affiliation or political persuasion.

Over 20 years ago as a Families USA volunteer trying to understand why we could not achieve a reasonable health care plan in the US, I began to study the political landscape and talk to people "in the know," and I soon realized that until we had campaign finance reform, true health care reform would be an unrealized dream for idealists like me.

I have to say that I found it particularly ironic when Wake Commissioner Tony Gurley, a Raleigh pharmacist and an attorney, tried to portray himself in his campaign ads in Wake County as a "compassionate conservative."

This is the same guy who was quoted in an interview with the N&O describing himself as "cranky" and "abrasive," and he called these "skills" (and not traits). He went on to say that he had learned his "skills" in pushing competing drivers into the wall as a young race car driver.

The picture of Tony that came to mind when I read the interview was of him driving a race car covered in corporate logos for all the development and construction companies, whose corporate CEOs filled his campaign coffers. Despite my suggesting to the N&O that they report on the source of his campaign funds, they did not.

Now to be fair, neither candidates like Gurley nor donors like Art Pope invented this game. The master of the game has to be none other than former Governor (the only 4 term governor) Jim Hunt. He was the one who invented "Hunt Keys," who were responsible for raking in the money for Hunt's races for the Statehouse and the U. S. Senate.

While I find Art Pope to be a predator seeking easy meat to prey on in the political world, is he so different from Democrats of the past? His argument that he is just trying to put Republicans on an even playing field in NC politics is not so far fetched.

Just look at the history of the seat to which Richard Burr was just re-elected. This is the first election since 1968 in which the candidate was re-elected. The last candidate re-elected to the seat was the famous Senator Sam of Watergate reknown.

Before Senator Sam Ervin's long reign in the US Senate, Democrats had controlled that seat for over 80 years. NC was then part of the Democratic "solid South," that voted consistently for Democrats after the Civil War, and elections were decided for the most part by the Democratic Primary.

Our memories for such history and the voting traditions in NC are short.

Many people still resent the Hunt Administration and its fierce partisanship and its frequent retribution against anyone challenging it--but mostly any Republican challenging it.

Whether Jim Hunt was a benevolent dictator or just a dictator, he was able to control things by playing to the middle and gaining business and corporate support from many of the most powerful men in Charlotte and Winston-Salem. He would never challenge them, if it meant losing the money that flowed into his campaigns and those of the Democrats he supported.

I do not share the political philosophy of Art Pope, Paul Stam and Thom Tillis, and Phil Berger. But I think attacking them for doing what political parties do is a waste of time, and it even aids their cause among the growing bloc of independent voters.

Anyway, how is what Hunt and his "keys" did so different from Art Pope's aspiring to gain control of the NCGA for his party?

You want real reform in NC and the nation? You must have campaign finance reform. Nothing else will really make a difference in the long run.

Comments

Jim Hunt was elected Governor

Jim Hunt was elected Governor more times than god. People chose him and his brand of politics, for better or worse, at the voting booth. His name was on the ballot.

When Art Pope's name was on the ballot, he was rejected out of hand by the people of North Carolina. So he decided to get back at the state and bought the legislature. An unelected despot versus an elected governor. If you can't see the difference between them, you need to find a new line of work.

Oh, and the next time you say "you must have campaign finance reform," I'd like to hear your plans for making that happen. Because the hard truth is, is isn't going to happen, not in your lifetime, except in the unlikely event we see armed insurrection against the corporate overlords.

I see the differences; I also see the similaries between Pope

and Jim Hunt. That was the point I was attempting to make. And I don't consider my writing my "line of work." It's earns me way too little to be considered a profession. It's really more of a hobby I try to make break even, what with expenses.

I disagree mainly with your assessment that campaign finance reform will not happen "in my lifetime." I see it coming in 8-12 years. After another couple of elections where we finally really throw the bums out.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Martha Brock

Sorry. I've been a grump.

And I've also neglected to say how much I appreciate your enthusiasm and contributions here.

I don't often officially welcome people, but a greeting to you is long overdue. You're knowledgeable and fair, and a good, solid writer. Thank you for taking time and making to effort to post your stories here.

It's probably me that needs to find a new line of work.

James

PS You're really that optimistic about finance reform? I'd love to be convinced that there's a credible strategy for getting there. I just don't see it.

My lifetime may be too short a timeframe given my age, but

I am an eternal optimist and an idealist at heart. I sincerely believe in the rightness of democracy and the goodness of the American people.

It is hard to believe (in light of the incredibly disheartening results of Tueday, Nov. 2nd), but I do believe the voters will become informed of the US Supreme Court's asinine decision on campaign spending by corporations and the lack of permission on spending by our unions.

The Republicans rode a wave of anxiety and venom into office, but they now have to "put up or shut up" after January 2011. When they cannot solve the problems facing our country,any more than Obama or the Dems did, the voters will see just how inept they truly are at governing.

Now this does not in any way guarantee campaign finance reform will be passed, those who support it will have their best opportunity since Watergate days. JMHO.

Martha Brock

I'll put one foot in your

I'll put one foot in your optimism camp, while reserving the other for kicking ass.

I was sixty this year, just in case you're interested in my perspective on "lifetime."

Sounds like a plan to me

I will try to play good cop, if you will play "bad cop." How's that for moving things along?

BTW, my personal friends know I can kick ass on occasion, too. I am just too weary from this election season to do so now.

Martha Brock

Weary

I made myself sick, literally. So glad it's over.

Looking ahead, it's tempting to get excited by the colossal meltdown that's coming. R's will be shooting themselves in both feet, doing nothing at all while the economy slows and slows and slows all the way back into double dip. Unfortunately, the level of human misery and worse that's going to be unleashed won't be very exciting at all, unless you're a person who gets excited by class warfare.