Protecting "us" against "them" | News Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Protecting "us" against "them" 

Gotta say it: That Osama tape had all the earmarks of a Karl Rove phony. Also: Duck hunting in Ohio was a blunder, a Dukakis-in-the-tank moment. And: Gay equality is a just cause, but even though we're gaining on it, it won't come without a huge backlash. Finally: Bush won by 3 million votes. The voters, obviously, are not persuaded that they're on the wrong track, even if they think "the country" is.

I watched Erskine Bowles' graceful, painful concession speech last night. He is a wonderfully decent man, his supporters all say. Unfortunately, he is exactly the sort of candidate who cannot be elected to national office today--not in North Carolina, not anywhere that I know of. Bowles was all about putting politics aside, working for common-sense solutions, reaching across party lines. You can do that, maybe, after you get there. But you'll never arrive if you can't tell people what your starting point is going to be, which is what being in a political party is all about.

Bowles just wasn't comfortable saying, I'm a Democrat, and here's why.

This is clearly a conservative state in a conservative country. By conservative, I mean in the traditional sense, which is that change is resisted, and life is tribal. Our biggest tribes are white or Christian or both. They embrace a set of traditions--about families, about sexuality, about "hard work" (invoked incessantly by George W) and "what's ours is ours"--that are under assault by global economic, social and religious forces. The instinctive tendency is to hunker down and look for the warriors who will protect "us" against "them."

Within North Carolina, Democrats remain in charge by arguing consistently for a single governmental program that is not tribal but does not threaten the tribe either. That, of course, is education. The more of it we get (the Democrats say), the better the tribe can fend off the economic challenges of India and China. No need, however, to get into sex education, which is the essence of the tribe.

Other than that, however, successful Democrats like Mike Easley, Roy Cooper and Bev Perdue presented themselves this year as more conservative than the GOP. Easley charged that his Republican opponent was for tax increases. Cooper surrounded himself with what looked like storm troopers. Perdue posed on a military base.

Meanwhile, they absolutely divorced themselves from any notion that the global issues facing the tribe might require a more robust set of national programs or a greater commitment to equality for anybody, let alone gays.

That makes the job of saying so all the more difficult, and critical, for national candidates like Bowles--or John Kerry. (Or, going forward, John Edwards.) They can't just say, well, trust us, we'll figure it all out on a bipartisan basis and let you know. Not while the Republican blowback is, trust the Democrats and they'll give you gay weddings in every church and abortion on demand (not just on the q.t., the way we want 'em.) They gotta cut through the crap.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News Feature



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

What's the point of submitting complaints about bad cops and bad policies?

People in and near "Target Areas" …

by Chris Tiffany on McDougald Terrace Residents Say the Cop Who Killed Frank Clark Has Terrorized Them for Years (News Feature)

In this article I read that "[w]hite men are a huge problem." This is blatantly racist and sexist. It holds …

by James Coley on It’s Time to Stop Laughing Off Poor White Men’s Malignancy—And Their Humanity (News Feature)

http://kajalverma.com/
http://sahanasofi.com …

by Sahana Sofi on In Wayne County, N.C., Trump’s America Is Angry (News Feature)

What ever Trump has plans for is not looking good for those of us who work for a living...Trump already …

by Tony Dockery on Where Do We Go from Here? (News Feature)

Based on some of the comments here, I'm to understand that Mr. Mozingo is a worthless piece of trash because …

by mike_in_nc on In Wayne County, N.C., Trump’s America Is Angry (News Feature)

Comments

What's the point of submitting complaints about bad cops and bad policies?

People in and near "Target Areas" …

by Chris Tiffany on McDougald Terrace Residents Say the Cop Who Killed Frank Clark Has Terrorized Them for Years (News Feature)

In this article I read that "[w]hite men are a huge problem." This is blatantly racist and sexist. It holds …

by James Coley on It’s Time to Stop Laughing Off Poor White Men’s Malignancy—And Their Humanity (News Feature)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation