Back in 1980, Senator Helms’ political organization had won elections in 1976 and 1978. And after Reagan won, we figured the conservative millennium had dawned and we’d mastered the art of politics. Next election we lost five races.
Back in 1980, Jim Hunt had built the most powerful political machine ever seen in North Carolina and had never lost an election. He lost for the first time in 1984.
In 1980, when he was 32 years old, Bill Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas – the youngest Governor in America. Two years later, after he lost the next election, he joked he was now the youngest ex-governor in America.
Hubris – thinking you’re smarter than you are – is a deadly vice.
Republicans in North Carolina have now won two straight elections. They worked hard and won the legislature in 2010 then kept it and elected a Republican Governor in 2012 – and they wouldn’t be human if they didn’t hear the genie of pride whispering in their ears.
But has a new Republican era dawned in North Carolina?
The polls don’t seem to say so. There’re still more Democrats than Republicans. And voters don’t see eye to eye with Republican legislation on Unemployment Reform, the Medicaid Expansion, or Tax Reform.
There’s no doubt it can be a good thing to pass an unpopular bill. But it’s a mistake to tell yourself voters agree with you when they don’t. And it’s an even bigger mistake (I know, I made it in 1982) to assume the good times will roll on and on – in politics that’s when the Good Lord throws you a curveball and you land on your backside in the dust, eyes wide open to a new kind of wisdom that comes with humility.