Home / Dave Brockington / North Carolina

North Carolina


Two articles on North Carolina came to my attention this morning. First, it appears that NC is convulsing with the same sort of protests that ground Wisconsin to a halt and led to sweeping progressive change:

Raging grannies, student groups, professors, internationally known physicians, historians, members of the NAACP, all are coming together to protest at the General Assembly of North Carolina and to place themselves at risk of arrest. Acts of civil disobedience have swept Raleigh, the state capital, and are planned to recur well into the future. Blame it all on the Tea Party.

Four months ago, Tea Party candidates took over the state government–both chambers of the General Assembly, as well as the governorship. Together, the newly elected office holders have been hellbent on eviscerating every social program they can get their hands on in the name of doing “the people’s business.”

I don’t consider myself an expert on protest politics, but I do include a section on it in a class I teach. What I know is that protest politics are good at raising the visibility of an issue (or basket of related issues), and might nudge public opinion. In the American context, that’s usually the best result one can aspire to. What it almost certainly will not lead to is the Pollyannish cheer leading from the article linked above:

What’s happening in North Carolina–and that it’s happening in North Carolina–may be the greatest sign of hope this country has seen in a long, long time. If there is a groundswell there, one just might be building that’s powerful enough to sweep the entire nation.

That won’t happen.

The second article outlines the events and actors that led to the Tea Party assuming control of North Carolina in the first place.

Cash from groups backed by the Koch brothers and others helped North Carolina Republicans build a robust conservative infrastructure and fundraising network, leading to the GOP winning both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature in the same year for the first time since Reconstruction.

That takeover didn’t come overnight, but it caught Democrats by surprise, especially since Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and lost only by 2 percentage points last year.

I question the direct causal claim implied above, and a) “carried the state” is perhaps a bit sweeping for a 0.32% plurality, but b) the money, organisation, and, well, the money definitely helped at the margins. North Carolina was always going to be a hard sell for Obama in 2012, but the changes at the state level do appear to be historic.

I’m sympathetic to protest politics, and understand the dynamics that lead to it as an expression of (small d) democratic participation. I’ve even participated in a few out of solidarity. Did those protests make any difference in policy? No. Did Wisconsin? No. Will North Carolina? No. In order to have a chance at making a difference where it really matters in terms of policy outputs, ground level organisation and money are required. This isn’t nearly as romantic or visible as a good protest, but it stands a better chance of actually, you know, working.

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  • Mark Jamison

    The protests may raise attention and awareness but they won’t stop a legislature that is ideological, arrogant and self interested.
    The explanation to the Republican super majorities here in NC is rather simple – redistricting. The Republicans took control of the process with a very strong 2010 cycle which was in part Tea Party driven and in part due to a state Democratic Party in total disarray.
    In elections for both Congress and the state legislature cumulative votes were pretty equally split between the parties but the distribution of seats went heavily to Republicans who drew districts very much to their advantage.
    The lesson may be that we need to really focus on getting non-partisan redistricting in place. Or, more cynically, it pays to really pay attention to decennial elections especially when they fall in off presidential years.

  • cpinva

    “Did those protests make any difference in policy?”

    i’m guessing you’re too young (or maybe weren’t yet born) to remember the Vietnam war protests. between them, and what become obvious to even the most die-hard war supporters – that Nixon and the military had absolutely no fucking clue how to actually win, the policy most certainly did change. granted, it took several years, and a massive demonstration of both military and diplomatic ineptitude, but it did happen.

    i’m not suggesting the same could happen in NC, the GOP has had 30 good years of propagandizing since Vietnam, but I wouldn’t discount it entirely out of hand either.

    • dave brockington

      I was born in 1968, and my first political memory is Watergate. From what I’ve studied, however, the protests did not affect policy. What did was Tet, because then it became obvious to a larger constituency that no, they had no clear aims and no idea how to “win” or how to even define “win”. By Tet, the war (as we understand it — US forces conducting offensive operations as opposed to purely advisory or defensive operations) had already been underway for three years. Even after Tet, it took five years for American involvement in the war to wind down. I honestly don’t see how one can make a convincing causal argument that protests –> end of the war. Are you suggesting that in the absence of the protests, the war in Vietnam would have continued indefinitely past 1973?

      More contemporaneously, the protests in Wisconsin made no difference. Yes, there were recalls, and yes, two Republican state senators lost. But it made little difference in policy, and that’s what really matters. Everything else is symbolic. If it can’t be effective in Wisconsin, which is a far more hospitable context for progressive politics (at least in terms of blocking aggressively regressive Tea Party policy), I’m holding out zero hope for NC.

      But hey. Maybe the TP legislature and governor will listen to all those academics.

      • Rob

        Except it did make a difference in policy in Wisconsin in the short term. Walker was afraid to act on anything during the protests. Now after the recall and the Republicans regaining control in the fall, yes the policy is close to the same but even now Walker has limited what some in his party want to do (removal of same day voter registration and electoral vote by district).

        • Well, that’s not really true. Walker wasn’t AFRAID to act on his agenda during the protests; rather his time to do so was limited. By the demands of the election, not by anything the protests actually did.

          And after the recall, the Republicans are not slowing down on their agenda. Defeat of the mining bill is likely to happen at the hands of the courts, tribal rights, or Federal oversight. Protests, before and after, certainly slowed it not in the least.

          The same day voter registration referendum was advisory only; don’t be surprised when it resurfaces before the next election, and the EV by district scheme is rolled out when it matters; in 2015.

          What the protests DID was show that fellow liberals were out there in the redder portions of the state, and raise spirits in the opposition party.

      • cpinva

        “Are you suggesting that in the absence of the protests, the war in Vietnam would have continued indefinitely past 1973?”

        yes, I am. between the protests themselves, and the dawning recognition, by the majority of the population, that our gov’t had not the slightest idea how to extricate us from that morass, popular opinion eventually led to the end of our involvement in Vietnam. unfortunately, the absolute wrong lesson was learned by the Tet offensive. the lesson that should have been learned, was that our military intelligence gathering wasn’t worth a tinker’s dam, that it could so completely miss a massive buildup of troops, equipment and supplies, up until the date the attacks began. instead, Westmoreland and company took from it that we could beat the best the nva/Vietcong (which was essentially destroyed as an effective fighting force by Tet), if we just put more troops and equipment in there.

        the American people didn’t see it that way, and it cost LBJ the chance for another term. Nixon got elected promising to end our involvement. absent the massive protests, and the psychological disaster of Tet, and he wouldn’t have been running on that kind of platform at all.

        • Hogan

          Nixon got elected promising to end our involvement

          And not having done that, he got reelected in a landslide.

        • joe from Lowell

          between the protests themselves, and the dawning recognition, by the majority of the population, that our gov’t had not the slightest idea how to extricate us from that morass, popular opinion eventually led to the end of our involvement in Vietnam.

          Between a hour of pick and shovel work, and praying really hard, I dug a hole in my yard yesterday.

          Yep, between the two of them, the hole got dug.

  • runasone

    Interesting that you left out Ohio, where the protests to an anti-union bill did eventually lead to a change in policy.

    • dave brockington

      Damn. That would have been useful to have included. Not to make my point obviously, but because it’s counter evidence to my point. In my defense, I’m trying to simultaneously blog and single parent on a Sunday morning.

      • Xenos

        Not really counter to the point, but to suggest and interesting question – why is the Ohio example the one exception to the rule? I would guess the auto unions may have made the difference, which leaves your point about what to expect in NC quite intact.

        • manual

          there were some important difference that explain, in part, the victory in ohio.

          First, the ohio law would have removed collective bargaining rigts for cops and firefighters. In Wi., these two groups were exempt from any changes to their workplace rights. Importantly, these groups are 1) traditionally more conservative than other unions and 2) quite popular with the general public. An attack on cops is likely to gain more sympathy than lots of already popularly demonized public employees – especicially during a recession.

          Second, the Ohio GOP was less uniformly behind SB5. A small, but important, number of Republican state congressmen voted against SB5. In wisconsin, the state GOP was in lockstep with Walker. Notably, some of the Republicans were pretty vocal in their opposition to the bill, this helped many Republican Ohio voters probably see this as less a partisan issue (R V D) and more as an issue of political overreach.

          Finally, in Ohio, state law provided a ballot referendum to remedy the problem. In Wisconsin, it was a recall election. Unlike a ballot referendum, a state recall requires both sustained political action – people have to not only get votes for the recall but then get out and vote subsequently – and voters to see the issue as meritorious enough to get out and vote and, in some cases, changes their voting patterns – from R to D.

          In Wisconsin, people did not see the issue as a significant enough to recall a governor, something generally reserved for corruption and the gross breach of political norms or promises. Whereas in Ohio people saw the law as too sweeping, lacking popular support and easy to undue. This accounts for a lot of the differences in outcomes.

          • Fake Irishman

            Right — it’s the opportunity structure of political institutions. In Michigan we got stuck with “Right-to-work” when the GOP figured out how to get around an Ohio-style referendum by inserting a tiny appropriation into the bill (which they then used to ruin a great state advertising campaign, but that’s an issue for another day.)

          • runasone

            Yeah, I think your last point is the big one. I’m from Milwaukee, and a lot of the opposition I heard when knocking on doors was to the general idea of a recall election for anything other than outright criminal activity.

          • sue

            If Wisconsin had the ballot referendum option to overturn legislation, we probably would have overturned Act 10. Like manual says, the fact that our only option was electoral politics made changing things a lot more difficult. Also, since you have to wait until a person has been in office for a year to start a recall, the moment gets kind of lost (there are a lot of complicated reasons that the gubernatorial recall failed). It’s really sad how far this state has gone downhill in a little more than two years.

            • JR

              On the plus side, at least Tammy won – and won against Tommy Thompson, which I doubt anyone could have foreseen a year ago.

  • Manju

    Protests do make a difference. For example, the Tea Party ones made my party look so ridiculous that we’ve been all but relegated to states only Adlai Stevenson could win.

    So please lefties, give me more OWS, replete with the usual antisemitism, misogyny, and conspiracy theories. If we can’t get better, at least our opponents can get worst. One things for sure, the civil rights movement you are not.

    So carry on.

    • Granted some OWS people had conspiracy theories, but I don’t recall any anti-Semitism or misogyny. More to the point I don’t see what was leftist about the OWS demonstrations. I did not see anybody advocating for a dictatorship of the proletariat. Unlike typical leftist demonstrations in decades past there were no pictures of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, or other communist dictators being held up as a model of governance for the US. In fact I did not even hear of anybody even calling for “smashing the bourgeois state.” The OWS people seemed to lack all of the markings of what makes a Leftist a Leftist.

      • Dave

        Oh FFS, since when is a whole half of the political spectrum defined by whether or not it makes reference to Marxism-Leninism?

        • Well I wouldn’t call it half. The Social Democrats and Christian Democrats are somewhere in the middle. As are most political parties in power in democratic countries.

      • joe from Lowell

        What part of casting political struggle as a class-based fight between the top 1% and everyone else is not leftist?

        • Economic populism and hatred of the rich is not necessarily left wing.

      • Hogan

        Unlike typical leftist demonstrations in decades past there were no pictures of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, or other communist dictators being held up as a model of governance for the US.

        Tell me about some of these demonstrations. Be specific. Dates and places.

        • As I mentioned they were decades ago. Most before I was born. But, the RCP had a demonstration in 1979 in front of the White House I believe.

          • Hogan

            And that was typical?

      • Origami Isopod

        Granted some OWS people had conspiracy theories, but I don’t recall any anti-Semitism or misogyny.

        Occupy members, being part of society, are not free of society’s prejudices, and those include misogyny.

        • JL

          This is an excellent way to put it, acknowledging the problem without pretending that Occupy was unusual in this regard.

          Yes, Occupy had its misogyny (and sexual harassment) problems. But I always (as a female Occupier) resented being used without my consent as a weapon against my own movement. I am not the only one.

          • This is a really interesting issue.

            Of course, the obvious thing is for the movement to do better. The more marginalized and fringe the misogyny, the less dealing appropriately with it can be hijacked by opponents.

            Dawkins did the exact opposite with the “elevator” incident. He took the misogyny and harassment and made it central rather than peripheral. That prominent members of the movement pushed back (Watson herself, other prominent dudes like PZ Myers) is good, but worse than Dawkins shutting up.

            (I’m always amazed at how these sorts of awful people don’t see the tactical and strategic benefit of not being blatantly misogynistic or racist or etc. C’mon! You think that aping right wing talking points (Dear Muslimina) is going to be a win?!?! Wha?)

            • JL

              Of course, the obvious thing is for the movement to do better. The more marginalized and fringe the misogyny, the less dealing appropriately with it can be hijacked by opponents.

              Obvious, but easier said than done.

              In Boston, we had a very active women’s caucus, an relatively early women’s march, protests against an organization running sexist “blackout parties”, a March 2012 march in solidarity with women in OWS who had been groped or otherwise abused in gendered ways by the NYPD on 3/17/12, a women’s “safe space” tent in the later days of the camp, a workshop with the local rape crisis center. There was a concerted effort, in the later days of the camp, to recruit more women into the Safety Working Group, and to incorporated gendered issues into their orientation training. A lot of our most active people were women, and we had a lot of very outspoken feminists of whatever gender. There were a lot of people trying very hard to “do better”, and a lot of initiatives that were specifically aimed at “doing better.”

              But we still couldn’t reach consensus on a sexual harassment/sex offense policy, and a lot of what was said and done during that debate was pretty misogynistic and drove people away. The problems that led up to that debate in the first place drove some people away. As did your garden-variety misogyny that you see everywhere in society that a lot of people don’t even realize they’re doing. And we also had that ubiquitous subset of lefty guys who took the “Race and gender are just distractions”/”Only class matters!” attitude.

              • Oh wow, that came out as suggesting that you didn’t know this obvious thing. I’m very sorry about that. It was meant to be about organizers and male leaders who, if only for cynical reasons, should know and do better. I recognize that this is even harder in a consensus based group, but again, you’d think all the brogressives would have for the memo.

                There was a recent brohaha at a PyCon (computer science conference) and my impression was that since the organizers worked with the Ada initiative and had and enforced a code of conduct, the event didn’t get tagged worth the bad behavior of the Internet mob.

                • JL

                  Oh yeah, being in CS myself, I heard about all the PyCon drama. And don’t worry, I wasn’t offended or anything by your comment.

                  I actually think CS (and geekdom in general) and lefty activism have some of the same dynamic in this regard – namely, they’re both full of men who think they’re too intelligent and enlightened, and too much of outcasts themselves in society (as though that’s some sort of immunization against engaging in behavior that hurts others) to possibly be misogynistic. Misogyny is something those [jerk jocks/reactionary right-wingers] do, so a woman [geek/activist] who complains that men keep talking over her at meetings or making unwanted sexual advances toward her must just be oversensitive.

    • manual

      Yeah, this is kinda crap.

      The problems with OWS were manifold (opposition to leaders and taking political stances, post structuralist nonsense, a coherent rasion detre etc), but it was not anti-semitism or misogyny that derailed anything.

      • joe from Lowell

        The problems with OWS were manifold

        Yes, they were, and they eventually led to the movement’s demise. What was once a relevant movement about income inequality and the power of the financial sector became a movement about police tactics, screwy ideas about the use of public parks, DHS conspiracy theories, and whatever the hell “decolonization” was supposed to be.

        However, we need to keep that word “eventually” in mind. For months, it was a vital movement that had a major and lasting impact on the broader political culture.

      • joe from Lowell

        I wish to revise and extend my remarks.

        Those very same “problems” that you talk about also gave the movement a creativity, vibrancy, tactical flexibility, and slipperiness as a target that helped lead to considerable success over the short term.

    • joe from Lowell

      I don’t know, Manju. OWS really did manage to change the national conversation. Before the protests, income inequality was completely off the agenda, and after, it was the agenda.

      Also, the Republicans embraced (and, actually, created) the Tea Party protests, while OWS was a genuine outsider movement that really had nothing to do with the Democrats.

    • JL

      Yes, the movement of Occupy Rosh Hashanah services (also celebrated in Berkeley) and Sukkot in tent cities was positively defined by its anti-Semitism.

  • Gareth Wilson

    The point of a protest isn’t to change policy. It’s a team-building exercise for whoever’s doing the protesting, using shared adversity to create a united and loyal organisation. Same thing with Mormon missions. They don’t seriously expect to convert many people from door-knocking. But door-knocking is a great way to reinforce Mormonism in the door-knockers.

    • Marek


  • Protests can make a difference – if, IF, they are covered effectively by the MSM, and people can see them on their TV’s when they watch the news, or see visual evidence in their newspapers.

    The problem is, that our MSM, once at least a relatively diverse lot, is now all owned by the same 5 or 6 corporations/individuals, and it’s not in their best interests to show protests that could affect their bottom lines.

    I was an organizer of anti-war, anti-torture, and anti-rendition protests in the Fayetteville, NC, area.
    We were part of a HUUUUUUUGE national march to protest the war, in DC, back in 2007.
    People like me, who’d been there for previous protests, estimated the crowd in the mall, at, conservatively, at least 500,000, maybe even more than 750,000, people there. The cops we talked to, confirmed it.

    As we were leaving in our bus, one of the other leaders said to everyone, that this was one of the largest and most successful protests he had ever seen (and he’d been involved ever since the anti-war protests in the 60’s).
    I pulled him aside a few minutes later on in the drive, and said, “I hate to burst your bubble, but whether it’s successful or not, depends on how the TV, radio, and newspapers treat it.”

    We asked the bus-driver to turn on the local DC radio news channel, where we heard, “Several thousand people protested the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, today…”
    Oh-oh, thought I.
    When we got home, I turned on CNN and MSNBC (I knew FOX ‘n Sucks would ignore it), and the network news.
    And what did they show?
    An overhead shot of the whole crowd, which almost filled-up the entire mall?
    Just clumps of people. No overhead shots. And, even on MSNBC, they said, “Several thousand people showed up to protest…”

    I got on the internet to check newspaper coverage, and no newspaper in the entire country showed an overhead shot of the crowd – something that was routinely done for decades.

    The fix was in.

    At President Obama’s first and second Inaugurations, they showed overhead shots of the crowd in the mall.
    Because it sent the message they wanted people to see – a peaceful passage of power, not people protesting power.

    I think the MSM has figured out a way to minimize protests – cover them as little as possible.
    And if they have to cover them, don’t show the scope of the protests, to help minimize them.
    The “Occupy” folks did a pretty good job of getting on people’s TV’s for a while, but then the city(ies) figured out how to break them up, by not allowing them park privileges – and other methods.

    So, mass protests will only be effective to the degree that they can somehow or other get on the TV news, and front pages.
    And, sadly, that may mean that peaceful mass protests, won’t get covered.
    And, no, I’m not suggesting violence be the next resort.
    We need to figure out better ways of making sure that there’s sufficient news coverage of peaceful protest.
    I’m open to suggestions.

    One last thing to protest groups:
    Ok, you can keep the stupid drum circles, and chants that sounded stale back when we were still fighting Ho – but bag the f*cking giant puppets.
    FSM, they are f*cking annoying!!!
    And people other than protesters don’t take people who hang around with giant f*cking puppets, seriously.

    • Mae Clark

      We need to figure out better ways of making sure that there’s sufficient news coverage of peaceful protest.
      I’m open to suggestions.

      Overhead crowd shots made by the protesters/supporters, circulated as web videos? Those, too, could and probably would eventually be interdicted, but they might work for at least a while. (If they could be made with DRONES, all the better.)

      • :-)

        The problem is, especially in the DC Mall, the cops commandeer the rooftops, and deny access.

        Maybe that guy who made the 3-D gun, can work on making a small plastic 3-D drone.

        • Hogan

          The problem is, especially in the DC Mall, the cops commandeer the rooftops, and deny access.

          That’s what the Washington Monument is for.

          • I’m not sure, but I think they may have shut that down for security purposes.

            But, if/when there’s another major DC protest, it’s worth looking into.

            • Clueless

              The monument is stil closed for repairs after the earthquake, and will be until at least 2014.

        • ummm, there’s a whole hobby industry based on making little planes and helicopters that work by remote control, and cameras can be installed in all of them.

    • Mr. Gulag,

      I agree with 99.5% of your post. I’ve picked up a habit of “commenting and running,” so my concentrating on the 0.5% I disagree with risks dumping me in the category of “concern troll.” But I ask this question with sincerity: What’s wrong with the puppets? You do write: “And people other than protesters don’t take people who hang around with giant f*cking puppets, seriously.” You have a point. However, it’s hard to believe — based on the rest of your post — that the media would cover huge protests if only the giant puppets wouldn’t show up.

      I grew up in Vermont (born in 1972), and although I’ve never seen a Bread and Puppet Theater performance in person, I’ve heard of them since the eighties. The idea of giant puppets doesn’t bother me — in some ways, it could be inspiring: it’s a way for volunteers to work together to make a political point, in new ways on their day off, in a fun way. Sometimes trying creative things fails miserably. That’s part of taking risks. Playfulness might draw more people than more dour Serious Talking Heads. At the same time, I’ve never seen these Giant Puppets in person. Maybe they intimidate people. Maybe the enacted dramas come off as preachy and stupid. I don’t know.

      In the Gulag, I appreciate from many of your comments that you’ve been out there in the streets protesting, doing what you can. That’s more than I’ve done. Also, at the end of the day, I realize that the giant puppets you don’t like are big enough to defend themselves. :) I’d just appreciate a little more detail about what you hate about the puppets.

      I ask this in the same spirit that you say you’re “open to suggestions.” I can make guesses about what you don’t like about them, but I’d prefer to hear your reasons, as someone who has seen the giant puppets and taken part in protests.

      Even if it just comes down to “I hate giant puppets” — I realize you might have been venting a little bit, and I’m totally OK with that — I’m not worried about your using your George Soros funding to support a puppetless hegemony. :)

      • I like the Puppets but I think that anything that makes the viewer–the real object of any protest–dismiss the protest as old fashioned/irrelevant/too hippy (all synonyms for one another) is a turn off and therefore to be avoided. Like Gulag I was part of the massive pre-war protests and also disheartened to see the thousands of people who turned out to protest turned, in terms of visual rhetoric, into one shirtless guy standing in an apparently empty street shouting abuse and then being arrested by the cops. A multi hour protest that brought grandparents and grandchildren in for a serious march through NY City that tied up the entire East side of the city (I think it was east, I always get confused) was reduced in TV coverage to one asshole without a shirt. The only other references to the protest that I saw on TV were references to traffic issues as in “traffic is slow, avoid these exits” because the streets were full of people–but you would literally never have known.

        I think if protests are turned into a method of organizing that’s great but if you were out protesting today would you give your name and number and email address to some person who asked you to so they could organize you later? That role has been taken over by things like Organizing for America/OFA in one of its incarnations and all the little online groups that phish for your information by sending you blast emails and advertisements “are you as outraged by X as I am? Sign our petition.”

        The idea of a protest, even a large one, that has an effect on a passive TV viewer and a conversion rate that is worth it seems outdated. Puppets just add to the outdated quality and make people think there’s some separation between real people (who are too busy to be making puppets) and permanent protestors who clearly spend their off protest hours being professional agitators and puppet makers.

      • NotOnScript,
        What aimia said (why, aimai, am I ALWAYS saying that? :-)

        The drum circles and the giant puppets (and sometimes the chanting) can be a distraction from the point of the protest.

        We don’t come down to bang on stuff just to be loud.
        We come to make a point.
        A serious one.
        A very serious one.
        All of the people attending are taking time out of their very busy lives to ask our government “for” something we think should be a human right, or to tell them to stop doing something in “We the people’s” names.

        To make their point(s), the chants need to be either very serious, or very funny – to point out the absurdity of having to gather to try to ask/tell your government to stop killing people, torturing them, sending them to other countries so the evil cabal in charge here can claim that their hands aren’t covered in blood and gore, and also to stop monitoring it’s own citizenry, and citizens in other countries, without due process.

        We don’t haul around the same tired giant puppets, from one march to another, without there being some kind of a carnival-atmosphere quality to it.
        (I understand the face-painting for the kids, it keeps them occupied, and they have some fun, showing off).
        Giant puppets were cool back in the 60’s, and even the late 70’s, in the anti-nuke protests – they were generally big mutated puppets, back then.

        But, the novelty wore off of them a long time ago, and now, there is a certain DFH quality to them, that makes it seem like the protesters have too much time on their hands, and also, the giant puppets look kind of fun, and are kind of funny – not exactly in keeping with the theme of “This War Is Criminal & Stupid (most are),” and “Torturing Is A War Crime,” or “The President And VP Suck, And Are War Criminals!”

        Maybe I just hate giant puppets.
        Or, I hate them because back in my youth, I was scared by a puppet.
        I always hate clowns, so, maybe it’s a carry-over from that, as well.

  • Nathan Willard

    What I find instructive about our current disaster in North Carolina (and the money thing from the koch brothers is interesting, but it’s not what changed things in 2012–it was the final confluence of events in 2010 that allowed Art Pope to take over the state legislature, followed by a top-to-bottom gerrymander (including, lately, the wake county school board! And Buncombe County (asheville) commission!). The money solidified the hold on the state legislature while the long investment in Pat McCrory finally paid out in the governor’s race) is that in its infancy it produced real tools for Democrats. PPP was created to combat Art Pope’s bottomless well for state races by making polling more available to less-financed campaigns. Okay, we’ve got the protests. What’s our next step to combat the new structural problems.

    I do wonder if this sort of protest can produce increased polarization. You had a lot of media reports saying, “oh, Pat McCrory isn’t THAT kind of Republican.” My inclination is that we want to believe too much to overcome the bitterness of messes like this, but I wonder.

    • Mark Jamison

      Berger, Tillis, Rucho, Moffitt – they are already so polarizing, so immune to even consideration of opposition concerns that the protests are unlikely to make things worse.
      The Republicans in this state are a pretty toxic mix. There are the social conservatives who are ideologically rigid, there is the Tea Party who are ideologically misinformed (and very rigid) and then there is the Art Pope contingent, a cynical group of Gilded Age wannabe plutocrats (actually pretty damn successful at it)who manage to use the tools of ideology and the emotional predispositions of the first two groups to move their agenda forward.
      McCrory might not be a rigid ideologue, “not that bad” in the parlance, but he is solidly in the Pope camp with perhaps the only reservation being that he wants to look good. McCrory is Moffitt with the polish that comes from having worked for Duke Energy for enough years to understand optics and PR a little better.

      There isn’t enough agreement on the other side of the fence to coalesce enough to overcome the advantages gained from the 2010 gerrymander. Eventually demographics will fix the problem but I worry that the best we can do over the next six years or so is try to mitigate the damage these folks are doing.

  • Wait! I am reliably informed that refusing to vote for major party candidates is sure to bring about lasting and beneficent progressive change!

    What do you mean, “ground level organisation and money are required”?

    Moral Purity and alienating all your possible allies is the way to go!

  • joe from Lowell

    Could somebody please refresh my memory about the “sweeping progressive change” that the protests in Wisconsin led to?

    I seem to remember that they were mostly defensive, and succeeded only in stopping some of the sweeping reactionary change that Scott Walker was trying to accomplish.

    • joe from Lowell

      Hmm. I may have missed some sarcasm.

      • Hogan

        That happens.

  • pungentodor

    Anyone know of a good source for how to go about building the ground game?

    • Hogan

      You could start here. Or with Saul Alinsky.

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