“Why so glum?” I asked a sullen group of Democrats who were expressing despair as they reviewed the results of the Nov. 3 elections.
They explained their gloominess. Democrats had lost seats in the state house and Senate, losing any chance to expand Medicaid or have a hand in the redistricting of seats in the state legislature and the state’s congressional delegation .
They continued. Republican candidates beat Democrats, appearing to win the chief justice’s seat and other positions on the state’s Supreme Court and all the open seats on the Council of State, including the lieutenant governor’s race in which an unknown and far-out Republican candidate beat an attractive, well-liked, and experienced woman state legislator.
What about Biden’s victory over Donald Trump? Surely this should have made my Democratic friends happy. No, they responded. It was supposed to be “a blue wave.” But it was not a blowout, not even close, they said, noting that they did not even win control of the U.S. Senate and lost seats in the U.S. House.
I confess that I lost my cool. I asked whether they would choose to be Republicans today rather than gloomy Democrats? Would you really like to go to bed tonight and wake up as a Republican? Maybe you could help bring that party back to its historic principles which its current leadership has abandoned. More likely you would have to carry the burdens of being a member of today’s Republican Party, tied as it is tightly to Donald Trump and his loyal backers, dependent on all those people’s support to win primaries and elections as a Republican. Like other present-day Republicans you would be so dependent that, you would have to subordinate your principles and good sense to a cult figure and his other followers, to their alarmist conspiracy stories, and the inaccurate “alternate facts” that they propound.
If you woke up as a Republican, I said, you would be tied to a party of aging white people in a state and nation that are rapidly diversifying. You would be stuck with a vision of our country that rejects the multi-ethnic American traditions of equality and fairness for everyone, regardless of gender, racial and ethnic background, or sexual orientation. You would have to reject the American commitment of true religious liberty and respect for differing religious views. You would have to reject the true patriotism that includes respect for our history of painful battles to expand equality and opportunity without covering up our country’s imperfections. You would have to put aside any continuing commitment to expanding opportunities for every citizen.
Our great country, I said, was not served up on a platter to or by our forebears. Every battle, including its war for independence, the end of slavery, the expansion of the right to vote, the opening of public schools to people of all races, the opening of public facilities to those of all different races and other battles for equality and fairness are battles that continue today.
You can be happy now, I told the group, that you are free to work for a better country, supported by high ideals and carefully discovered scientific facts rather than being bound to the inconsistent and deadly poisons prescribed by a haughty autocrat and his inconsistent dogma.
More than that, I said, you should be happy that your party’s candidates for president and vice president are on the verge of a momentous victory and North Carolina will soon, be joining its neighbors Virginia and Georgia in becoming a place where both Democrats and Republicans have a fair chance to win political contests.
After my passionate ramblings, my friends nodded, smiled, and continued their gloomy conversations.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sunday 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesday at 8 p.m. and other times.