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North Carolina editorial roundup

November 7, 2018

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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Nov. 7

The News & Observer of Raleigh on a Democrat being elected to the state Supreme Court and Republicans’ strategy:

Anita Earls, who was elected Tuesday to a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court, ought to be happy that legislative Republicans apparently spend so much time reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s 16th century treatise on power, “The Prince.”

Machiavelli urged a style of cunning political manipulation that’s been embraced by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. Only that Machiavelli was shrewder.

Berger and Moore can’t resist rigging the rules of the game to what they think will be Republicans’ advantage. But, as The Insider’s Colin Campbell recently showed, sometimes they outsmart themselves. In this case, that led to Earls, a Democrat, winning election to an eight-year term over Barbara Jackson, an incumbent Republican justice who otherwise would have been the favorite to win.

The back story: Democrats held a 4-3 majority on the court and only Jackson’s seat was up for re-election this year. Republican hopes of eventually regaining the majority rested on Jackson’s winning re-election.

Legislative Republicans hatched a scheme to tilt the election to Jackson (“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception,” Machiavelli wrote). They canceled the primaries that would have chosen a winner from each party; there would be only the November election. They expected Jackson to be the only Republican candidate, that several Democrats would divide that party’s votes, and that Jackson would win.

But no Democrat emerged to challenge Earls, an impressive Yale-educated lawyer who’d had success in challenge gerrymandering and other laws passed by legislative Republicans. And then Chris Anglin, a young Raleigh lawyer, changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and entered the race. Republicans tried to block Anglin but were defeated in court.

Anglin took Republican votes from Jackson. Earls won 49.5 percent, Jackson 34 percent and Anglin 16.4 percent.

If there’s been a consistent theme during the Berger-Moore era, it’s been their zeal for changing the rules so they can accumulate more power.

...

Then there were the two proposed constitutional amendments that would have shifted power from the governor to legislators. All 11 former governors and chief justices, from both parties, opposed those two amendments. Voters saw that for the embarrassing power grab it was and defeated both amendments handily.

“He who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived,” Machiavelli wrote. Someone, yes. But maybe most North Carolinians are finally seeing Berger and Moore’s political manipulation for the deceit that it is.

... When Republicans were in the minority, Berger was a champion of good government. Sadly, those days are long gone. Instead, Berger has spent much of the last eight years, as Machiavelli recommended, attempting to accumulate power through illegitimate means.

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It’s easy to be in favor of good government when you’re in the minority. It’s a test of character to support good government when you have the votes to do otherwise.

Online: https://www.newsobserver.com/

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Nov. 6

The Charlotte Observer on the balance of power following the midterm elections:

As waves go, this was closer to Wrightsville than Waikiki. But there is hope.

Voters on Tuesday gave America and North Carolina hope, not for Democratic policies, but for a taste of balance, for some checks on unchecked power, for baby steps back to a day when our politics didn’t seem so hopelessly out of control.

By taking away Republicans’ command of the US House and breaking NC Republicans’ grip on veto-proof majorities in the legislature, voters sent a message: We as a country had gone too far. So they created conditions in which no one party can steamroll everyone in its path, as Republicans have done in recent years, especially in Raleigh.

To be sure, that could be a recipe for gridlock. But it also could promote collaboration and conversation. Imbued with new relevance, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s looming veto will perhaps prompt legislative Republicans to rein themselves in - and even take Democrats’ temperature on legislation before passing it.

We are too cynical (or realistic?) to believe that Tuesday’s results will mend our dysfunctional state and national politics. But they could help. And they should yield better policy, including continued health care coverage for pre-existing conditions at the federal level and more responsible budgets with bigger investments in education at the state level.

The results were also encouraging in another way. Tuesday’s election up and down the ballot was in large part a referendum on President Donald Trump. CNN exit polls showed that 65 percent of voters cast their congressional vote with Trump in mind. A big Republican night would have cemented the status of the last two years — that we are a divided nation. An angry nation. A nation where the majority endorses the lies and hate and poisonous politics in which the president traffics. A big Republican night would have served as affirmation that Trump was no anomaly, and that we are a nation roiled and riven and perpetually ready for the next pitched battle.

Instead, voters forcefully rejected much of that. We are still a divided nation, of course, but on Tuesday a majority stood up and repudiated Trump’s rhetoric and policies. Perhaps that slap from voters will persuade some Republicans to let go of their politically motivated fealty to Trump and return to the Republican party of Eisenhower or Reagan that many voters long for.

Tuesday’s results feel big right now. But the 2020 election starts Wednesday. Elections are a running subtotal more than a final bill, and as well as Democrats performed, the results were in line with several other midterm elections of the past 60 years. Many presidents have suffered large midterm losses before winning a second term just two years later, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Republicans will regroup, and 2020 will be the ultimate referendum on Trump. With gridlock probable in Washington over the next two years, Democrats will surely need more than the “Trump is awful” message that was enough this time.

Online: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/

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Nov. 6

The Fayetteville Observer on a minor league baseball team’s new name:

We’re baseball fans here, serious enthusiasts for America’s Pastime. Baseball, in our editorial view, is right up there with Thanksgiving and puppies in the list of the best things about life.

One of our favorite things to see in a ballgame is that rare-but-wonderful phenomenon, the inside-the-park home run. The Houston Astros hit one Sunday in Fayetteville, when about 5,000 people showed up at Festival Park for the party that officially launched the city’s new minor-league baseball team, which will be known as the Fayetteville Woodpeckers.

Unveiling the name was one of the things that drew a big crowd — it’s been the subject of much speculation and debate for months now, and the suspense grew after the initial launch party was postponed by the untimely arrival of Hurricane Florence. There were three factions in town — the ones who liked the name “Woodpeckers,” the ones who liked the other finalist, the “Fatbacks,” and the ones who hated both and wondered why the team couldn’t just go on as the Astros, which has been its identity for the past two years as the team played in Buies Creek, at the Campbell University ballpark.

But the Woodpeckers it will be, and all of us will get used to the name and come to love it. And many of us will be eternally grateful that the club didn’t choose “Fatbacks.”

But about that party: the turnout sent a wonderful signal about the city’s eagerness to welcome the team and support it. In fact, the support has been pretty special to see. Even as the club’s downtown stadium slowly takes shape, the team has already sold 1,500 season tickets. Fifty were sold at the Sunday event alone. The private club-level seating, with 110 seats, is sold out. Club President Mark Zarthar says the six luxury boxes are also sold out, as are four field boxes. During the Festival Park party Sunday, cashiers were busy the whole time as fans lined up to buy hats, t-shirts and other team merchandise that features a good-looking red-cockaded woodpecker, the endangered bird that has sparked a successful restoration of longleaf pine forests on and around Fort Bragg.

The team will play in the Advanced Class A Carolina League and will begin play in April in the new downtown stadium...

Fayetteville is turning a big corner and finally catching up with many of its peer metropolitan areas around the state. Downtown Fayetteville is becoming a cultural and entertainment magnet that can draw visitors from a broad area and give them plenty to do for a long weekend visit. ...

Online: https://www.fayobserver.com/

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