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22
Gary is taking a break from blogging. In his absence, he asked Thomas Mills to fill in. Thomas blogs at www.politicsnc.com where this article is cross-posted.

Republicans in Raleigh have a problem with their storyline. They keep insisting that North Carolina is on a “Carolina comeback” but nobody’s feeling the benefits--except the rich. They cite falling unemployment numbers but those are just statistics and don’t reflect the reality of people’s lives.
 
The GOP says that our unemployment rate is lower than it’s been since the recession began and that the state created more than 70,000 jobs over the past year. However, people still aren’t feeling much better. Income is flat and the workforce is still significantly below pre-recession levels despite an increase in population.
 
Instead, people are seeing the hit to services. In schools across the state, parents are being asked to give more to make up for the cuts that the General Assembly passed. And even as they give more money to their children’s classrooms, they are watching programs get cut. In Chapel Hill-Carrboro, entire programs for gifted children are on the chopping block.
 
Parents aren’t feeling better about their pockets books. They are feeling insecure about their children’s education. In essence, they General Assembly has passed along a hidden tax since families are subsidizing classrooms to a greater extent.
 
And contrary to their storyline, the North Carolina economy is not outperforming the nation as whole by any great extent. Our job growth is steady but mediocre at less than 2% and the drop in unemployment rate is due partially to people leaving the workforce.
 
We also hear about the wonders of tax reform and are told we have more money in our pockets, but most aren’t feeling it. If we are, in fact, paying less taxes, the amount is not noticeable and is certainly not enough set people off on spending sprees. Instead, we’re bracing for more cuts due to a revenue shortfall.
 
Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature told us they were going to fix government and get our financial house in order. North Carolina would be an economic powerhouse again and sunny skies were ahead. Instead, we have a $445 million hole in our budget, our best teachers are leaving the state and McCrory is talking about more cuts to university system. They can spout statistics ad nauseam but until people are feeling more confident about financial situations and public institutions, their claims will fall on deaf ears.

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23
Gary is taking a break from blogging.  Today’s pinch-hitter is Thomas Mills.
 
 
Pat McCrory and some of his Republican allies are now saying they are ready to compromise on voter ID. Compromise with whom? With super-majorities in the state house and senate, Republicans can pass whatever bill they want without any Democratic support. For their part, Democrats should stand solidly against any bill that limits access to the ballot box, no matter how watered down, and let the Republicans battle over the direction of their party.
 
Voter ID is a trumped up issue addressing the nonexistent problem of voter fraud. In reality, the whole voter ID ploy is a pander to the GOP’s xenophobic base and a voter suppression tactic aimed at low-income and minority voters. Now, after a national defeat illustrated the evolving demographic nature of the electorate, moderate Republicans are trying move away from the more racist and homophobic tendencies that they’ve tolerated in their right flank.
 
In North Carolina, McCrory and his more mainstream buddies understand the state and its voters are getting browner. Hispanics made up less than 1% of the population in the 1990 census but made up about 8% in the 2010. African-Americans, who made up 18% or so of the electorate during that time period, made up more than 22% of the voters in 2008 and 2012. If Republicans in North Carolina hope to remain a competitive party in the next ten to fifteen years, they need to appeal to these segments of the population, not alienate them.
 
For their part Democrats have nothing to gain from compromising on Voter ID. Instead, they need to define the issue for what it is—a tactic to disenfranchise voters the GOP doesn’t like. Democrats need to make Republicans own this issue they’ve invented. Over the next decade, our Hispanic population will begin voting in large numbers. They need to remember that Republicans tried to keep them out of the ballot box. Democrats should not share the blame.
 
Thomas Mills is Democratic political consultant based in Carrboro, NC. 
 

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