|Raleigh News and Observer|
The Blue Wave of 2018 in North Carolina was Christmas morning all over again. The lust for the ballot among Democrats and liberal-minded independents beat anything I've seen in a while. Yes, 2006 was an enthusiastic year too. So was 1990, with Harvey Gantt on the ballot against Jesse Helms. And 2008. But since 2008? Not so much … until Donald J. Trump became president. In 2018 we nailed a decade "high." The Gospel Truth: That Democratic surge must last through 2020, and any sign of waning enthusiasm, any slight drying up of the Democratic sap, worries the everlasting daylights out of me.
I've heard or read, "Oh, the Blue Wave of 2018 played itself out, and Democratic enthusiasm for new elections and new candidates ain't what it used to be. And besides that, the Party's split between Biden conservatives and Bernie socialists, and they'll never reconcile. If the socialists gain the upper hand, you can kiss your 200-year-old Party goodbye."
You hear that in the mainstream press -- prophets and prognosticators trying to divine public moods. I actually agree with some of it, the potential for a split in the Party, but I still warm my fingers and toes at the smoldering fire, the group vow to defend democracy in this critical hour -- resist with everything we've got both the bunch running DeeCee and the bunch running Raleigh, no matter the hap. That lighter-knot of a hot coal is just waiting for some air.
The Dan McCready loss in the 9th CD special election wasn't a sign of Democratic dehydration to me. Oh, Democrats stayed home in droves, yes. Robeson County, majority Democrat by a wide margin, didn't turn out for McCready. That was the case in other counties. Would they have caught fire if the candidate wasn’t shy to strike sparks on the flintstone? Would they have turned out for a more progressive fighter? Would they have churned at the polls for the North Carolina version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
There's a whole wing of Democratic campaign operatives who preach moderation. Don't get too far out on any liberal limb because the Republicans will go apeshit and call you a "socialist" and cause moderate, rural Dems to turn away from you as a threat to their very way of life. Because they're capable of believing your average con artist.
Here's my beef with that version of reality: They're gonna label you, dear ole Democrat, no matter whether you fight on principle or not. And depending on the candidate, moderation becomes mildness, which projects weakness. Even in an ex-Marine. In his gingerly handling of issues big to Democrats, McCready always seemed to be dodging imaginary bullets. Nice guy. With nice-guy flexibility.
I'm sorry it's happened, but the Trump model of bullying masculinity -- authoritarianism -- has demanded a manly and O make no mistake, womanly fortitude to resist, to take down the bully on the playground to save the littler kids. That's what Democrats want right now in a candidate for public office. And so do "soft" Republicans currently nauseous at the sight of Trump.
Here's what I've been leading up to…
Just when we might fall to worrying that Democratic enthusiasm is fading, the Republican bosses in Raleigh, the Moore-Berger duopoly, pull a breathtaking stunt that is so nakedly dishonest and unfair that it wakes thousands in an instant, reminds them what they're fighting for, and what against, and calls them to the ramparts to preserve any last vestige of honesty, fair-dealing, respect, a sense of ethics, any streak of humanity still remaining in the administration of our state's legislative body.
Progressives who've grown silent since 2018 are suddenly talking, shouting, on social media and in social gatherings. They're excited by a Deb Butler in the House, who became the instant Town Crier on alert yesterday morning, and got loud and stood in Speaker Tim Moore's metaphorical face. That's what we want to see. That's what we need, incidentally, in a U.S. senatorial candidate.
Ironically for the Republican bosses, the sneak vote on overriding the Governor's veto of the budget was the wind we needed to blow the smoldering coal back into life. When have the Republicans ever accurately calculated the public reaction to one of their power-grabs?
A NOTE ON MIXED METAPHORS
I am fully aware that the Blue Wave of paragraph one became the smoldering fire of paragraph three -- only to prove, O My Brethren, that I can miraculously combine fire and water.