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Gary is taking a break from blogging. Our guest blogger today is Nation Hahn.
In recent weeks North Carolinians have heard two inaugural addresses. One, from Governor Pat McCrory spoke to “Unlimited Opportunity.” The other, from President Barack Obama, was a call for the “country’s reasonable majority” to act.
For North Carolina Democrats, the President’s address was inspirational. The truth is that it also could also offer a rebuttal to Governor McCrory’s agenda to come.
The most memorable portion of McCrory’s speech came toward the middle as he hammered home his version of “Main Street.”
“As I look out toward Main Street with government at our back, I see unlimited opportunity. Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress. Our face and our approach should be outward, not inward.”
In McCrory’s world, and the world of his most prominent supporters, government is a barrier for progress. As President Clinton said at the convention last August, their prescription remains the same — cut taxes, cut regulations and call me in the morning.
“We know this philosophy works because we’ve done it before… My parent’s and your parent’s North Carolina was a state filled with unlimited opportunity– opportunity not only for them, but for their kids to get a good education, get a job and fulfill their potential… It is time for us to make sure that North Carolina fulfills and even exceeds that potential once more.”
Conservative narratives often harken back to the past. They tie themselves to the traditions of the 1950’s — family, apple pie and drive-in movies. It has long been a successful strategy. My friend Jonah Sachs wrote “The Story Wars” explaining the power of partnering your present messaging with the stories that define our history.
The President’s inaugural address would also tie his narrative to history, however. President Obama warmed progressive hearts and minds with his own story.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. 
“For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.”
Jon Haidt, Jonah Sachs and others have correctly pointed out that the Democratic Party abdicating narratives tied to our history and our founding fathers has been one of our most glaring mistakes in recent decades. 
President Obama connected the threads between the battle for equality and progress to the Declaration of Independence. He noted that the right to vote has been constantly advanced — with a subtle notation that today people still must wait in line in some areas and voting rights are under attack in others. He noted that immigrants still see this as a
land of opportunity.
Earlier in the address he said, “Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”
On the issue of climate change he declared, “That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
His address was powerful because of his nod to our common history. Owning the story of progress, reminding people of our constant struggle to become a more perfect nation and stating that we must secure our “self-evident truths” and our “God given freedom” through our work.
North Carolina Democrats must not only be inspired by the President’s address, we must heed the lessons of storytelling that he showed on that bitterly cold January day.
We must own our history. We must tie our work to the work of those who came before us. We kept our schools open during the Great Depression and we founded the community college system. Terry Sanford stood up to the segregationists and invested in the war on poverty. Jim Hunt saw the roads being paved in rural NC and understood that government investment could be a force for good.
To be clear, we should not rely on tired ideas and narratives. Too often we have found ourselves defending the status quo rather than offering a new vision, but we must not abdicate the story of our state either.
It was the public investment in education that drove growth in our state. 
It was our dedication to environmental protections, not “regulation”, which preserved our natural beauty and led to our status as one of the top states for tourism.
It was the view of our state as a beacon of progress to the rest of the South that led to people moving here and great companies not only being founded but sticking around.
We need ideas, yes, but we also must tell the story of what made this state great. It was the people of North Carolina who did so, as McCrory would note, but it was the people working together to build progress. It was people believing in something bigger than themselves. It was people who understood that investing in education, good roads, environmental protections and fighting inequality did not mean a burden.
If McCrory’s vision was correct then Mississippi and South Carolina would be beacons of economic success. The truth is that his narrative is wrong, but it is up to all of us to respond with a narrative that reminds people of where we have been while inspiring them to move forward towards a brighter future if we hope to emerge victorious in the years ahead.



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7 comments on “Two Views of the World

  1. clarence swinney says:

    Her entire life has been of one of service to others.
    When Bill was Governor who took a year from her law job, without pay, to visit 60 school districts. It helped.
    Se loves and admires her State Department employees and was hurt deeply at the loss of four.
    She deserves praise not political cheap shots.
    Hillary is an American Icon as will be recorded in history books.
    God Bless Her.

  2. Carbine says:

    You missed the part where Obama talked about “peace in our time.” How could a president who is generally believed to be one of the more learned and intelligent persons in town have been so ignorant of history as to have recycled that poisonous phrase, so freighted with a legacy of cowardice and appeasement?

    Forget his birth certificate–I want to see his college degree.

  3. clarence swinney says:

    Reagan cut top tax rate 60%
    Reagan increased Payroll Tax
    It allowed us to borrow 2.7T from Social Security
    Clinton cut Cap Gains Tax to 20% and Bush to 15%
    Repeal Glass Steagall allow 10 investment outfits to buy up deposits in 7000 Banks
    Commercialization of Commodities markets. Opened Casino Derivative for Rich only.
    Gamble without a stake in the item. Opened Hedge Fund Market Gamblers for Rich only.
    Bush tax cuts for rich.
    Bush Invasion of two poor unarmed nations inalienaded world Muslims.
    Park D Medicare unfunded
    Obama expand Afghan war
    Obama cut payroll tax
    David Koch bought 50 seats in the House
    Cut government never raise taxes
    Took Clinton 5.8T of Debt to 16.4T
    Today, 10% own 73% Net Wealth—83% Capital wealth–get 43% individual income and pay 18% tax rate.
    One family hold more wealth than 90% of the families

  4. dap916 says:

    Carbine, you won’t EVER see his college transcripts or ever learn how he was able to afford to attend how he went to the colleges he went to. Truth is….secrecy on Obama is the order of the day and not even the liberal media can argue it. No, I’m not a “birther”. I don’t know about that. Just would LOVE to see his college transcripts. Someone have that…with “Obama” as the name of it? Let’s see it.

    Trust me, that’ll never be seen. We have a foreign national as president of the U.S. and he lives by his father’s dream and he will ultimately be the biggest threat to our country ever in our history. But hey, Libbies have a whole warchest of rhetoric and spin to present against what I’ve just said.

  5. dap916 says:

    Thank you, Nation, for not presenting your comments under some elusive name such as “Tapster”.

    Your comments presented to us examples of why progressives (such as yourself) and conservatives (such as myself) are so different politically. You see government as the impetus to equality and I see opportunity as the means to that end. The democratic party has, for generations, presented themselves as the ones that will bring about equality and racial justice to the minority community in our country. Yet, to date, minorities have the worst unemployment in our country, the lowest household income, far and away the highest percentage of people incarcerated. Minorities make up the highest percentage of our poor and people on government assistance…I’m talking about percentages here. This is true even though there has been a HUGE amount of effort by both sides of the political aisle to give minorities favored access to education and jobs in addition to taking away just so many of the barriers that kept minorities from being denied access to where they live and go to school. Minorities today are not seeing the opportunity our country truly offers even with all of the efforts made. So, even though the minority community votes in mass for democrats because of all of the promises of “equality” and “equal opportunity”, they have not realized those things. Sure, we have more minority millionaires than in the past. And, yes, we have more minority politicians than in the past. But, when you look at the mainstream minority community…the families and the minority kids and so forth, they remain with less true progression within our society. I guess democrats are the only ones that actually IDENTIFY minorities as who they’ll work for specifically…thus the reason the minorities vote for them so often. You can argue what I’ve said with “exceptions” all you want. Numbers don’t lie, Nation. What I’ve said is just a fact. If the democratic party promises somthing…regardless of opposition to it…it should deliver. And, clearly, the democratic party has not delivered their promises to the minority community.

    Now, with regard to McCrory vs. Obama in their inaugeration speeches, let’s get one thing straight here. McCrory is a capitalist and believes that building the business community’s ability to flourish and create jobs is paramount in making ALL of the lives of North Carolinians better. Obama believes that government should be the impetus to job creation and should have its long arm and big hand in every effort involved in creating jobs right down to setting wage guidelines and racial make-up and union activity and even in the tax structure. So, yeah, those two speeches would most certainly be different. Republicans are different in their beliefs from democrats. That’s not a statement that is a revelation to you, I’m sure. But, if you and the democratic party truly wants equality and equal opportunity and a better state and country for our citizens, then in my opinion we should get government and self-serving politicians and rhetoric out of the way.

    Thanks for presenting your point of view and thanks again for not just presenting yourself as a “Tapster”.

  6. Proctor says:

    Preserve and Enhance the N.C. Historical Legacy

    There has been considerable economic progress in South Carolina, Mississippi and in many other Southern states, so rather than try to rest on its well-deserved 20th Century reputation as being a progressive yet practical and egalitarian leader among Southern states, North Carolina ought to give due consideration to the economic development ideas of Gov. Pat McCrory and his two Republican predecessors, Govs. Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin, while at the same time renewing the pace-setting commitments to education and state government service from transportation to conservation successfully implemented by a host of progressive and visionary Democratic governors from William B. Aycock to Beverly Perdue.

    This is a good idea, renewing the unique achievement-oriented record of N.C. state government leadership going back to the 19th Century. And there can be a “compare and contrast” methodology to the continuing study of the history of the Old North State, from Gov. J.C.B. Ehringhaus’s great intraparty state partnership with the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in FDR’s first term (1933-1937) and Gov. Terry Sanford simultaneous commitment to new initiatives during the all-too-brief “New Frontier” presidency of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago to the current cross-party political conversation being initiated by incoming Gov. Pat McCrory against the backdrop of a second White House term for President Barack Obama.

    As important as the outlook of the executive branches at the state and federal levels will be during the next four years, what is equally vital is that members of the N.C. General Assembly and this state’s congressional delegation in Washington seek out ways to advance important policies and reforms through legislative initiatives without simply waiting for the White House or the Governor’s Office to “go first” in putting forward a call for action.

    So as different as the philosophical visions of Republican Gov. McCrory and Democratic President Obama may be, there must be a great deal of attentiveness, interest and legislative presence of mind in Raleigh and Washington, including especially the minority Democratic members in both houses of the N.C. legislature and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Most particularly, Republican Speaker John Boehner in Washington is an individual who on his side of the aisle is nonetheless following in the great tradition of stalwart 1950s-60s Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas in both heeding the call of leadership by his particular party while at the same being entirely willing to work with members of Congress from the other party in expanding the legislative productivity, harmony and achievements of the entire U.S. House of Representatives.

    David Proctor McKnight

  7. Carbine says:

    Well there’s Hillary’s base for you: the chronically deluded.

    Being an exceptionally good liar is, sadly, an asset in politics. For those like the Clintons it is an absolute necessity. But Hillary is supernaturally gifted in that area. The lie regarding the phony demonstration over a video, which she prepared for her congressional testimony, stands as a masterpiece of mendacity. She knew that of all the questions she would face, the one about who crafted the demonstration story was the most dangerous.

    She could not possibly admit the truth, that the story had been cooked up by the Obama campaign to prevent the media from pointing out the contrast between his claims of having crushed Al-Queda and the fact of a new Al-Queda attack. But there was no other plausible story she could offer as to how the demonstration story came about either. Anything she said about that would be checked into, found to be false, and the story would have just snowballed. Even her friends in the lapdog media would feel obliged to do some actual reporting for a change, and she couldn’t risk that.

    What she decided to do was sheer genius. Her attack on the Senator who asked the question became the story of the day. Lost in her histrionics was the fact that she never answered the question. The media focused instead on her ‘combativeness,’ and the other senators were too intimidated by her act to follow up. It was reminiscent of Obama’s reaction to a similar charge by Romney during the debate–become belligerent and pretend that the other guy had asked or said something inappropriate, while giving an ‘answer’ that steered away from the topic and gave the media something else to write about .

    It’s particularly disgusting that she used the deaths of four Americans to hide from a legitimate question, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Hillary over the years. Other politicians, in a similar situation, may have hit upon the same strategy. But only she or perhaps her husband would have the stones to pull it off.

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