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Go back 50 years in North Carolina. To 1960. The year Terry Sanford was elected governor.
Tobacco was king in North Carolina – politically and economically.
WRAL-TV started its broadcast days (after a devotional) with the Farm Report. The News & Observer had a regular farm reporter.
And the health of the tobacco economy was always Topic A.
Suppose you had told North Carolinians then that, in 50 years, you would not be able to smoke in a building, restaurant or bar in North Carolina.
Suppose you had told them then that, in 50 years, the state’s cigarette, textile and furniture industries would have shuttered plants and laid off thousands of employees.
The 1960-era Tar Heels would probably have expected us to become an economic disaster area, lagging somewhere behind Mississippi.
Instead, the tobacco ban is welcomed in thousands of new offices, businesses, restaurants and stores across the state – populated by millions of people who are happy about the smoking ban. And working in fields not imagined 50 years ago.
Change happens.


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A national Democratic Party reform that Jim Hunt pioneered nearly thirty years ago is under attack.
And state Senator Dan Blue is defending the reform.
There is some irony here. When Hunt was Governor and Blue was House Speaker in 1993-94, the two didn’t always get along. They clashed especially on Hunt’s crime program in 1993.
Now Blue is a member of the Democratic Change Commission, which was formed last August by President Obama. The commission has recommended that so-called superdelegates be eliminated.
The superdelegates are elected officials and party leaders who go to the convention automatically as unpledged delegates.
They were created by the Commission on Presidential Nominations, which Governor Hunt chaired in 1981-82. David Price – then a professor at Duke – was the commission’s staff director.
This year’s commission would require superdelegates to vote in accordance with how their states vote in primaries or caucuses.
The Washington Post reports:
“The elimination of free-agent superdelegates comes in response to the outcry from many within the party during the 2008 primary fight when then Sen. Hillary Clinton made the argument to unpledged delegates that it was their responsibility to not vote as their state had voted but rather cast their votes for the candidate they thought would be the best person to represent the party.

“Obama allies insisted this was an attempt to suborn the will of the people. Clinton loyalists shot back that the creation of superdelegates was for just such a purpose -- a close race in which the will of the people is very closely divided.”
Dan Blue dissented, saying "There is no escape when something unforeseen occurs."
That’s exactly why Hunt’s commission created independent and unbound delegates.


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The Teens may come to be Barack Obama’s decade the way the Eighties were Ronald Reagan’s decade.
Ideology aside, the two Presidents have much in common.
Both were outsiders who ran campaigns that upset conventional wisdom.
Both had lives before politics – Reagan as an actor and union leader, Obama as a community organizer and law professor. And both were ridiculed for those pursuits.
Both made themselves into good writers – and great public speakers.
Both came to the White House when Americans desperately wanted change.
Reagan’s sunny optimism was a welcome relief from the gloom, malaise and economic stagnation of the Seventies.
The question is whether Obama’s laid-back style will wear as well as a contrast to the last decade’s hyper-partisanship, terror of terrorism and near-economic catastrophe.
If it does, this will be his decade.


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