Signs of a welcome shift

Signs of a welcome shift

- in Fitzsimon File

Don’t look now, but the political winds seem to be shifting back toward reason and common sense and away from the anti-government and anti-progress hysteria of the Tea Partiers and the slash and burn right-wing groups that support them.

This week’s Wake School Board races are the most obvious example, where voters threw out the right-wing incumbent Chairman Ron Margiotta just two years after the Republican re-segregationist Gang of Five took over the board and began to dismantle of the most successful urban school districts in the country.

Control of the board now comes down to a runoff election in one district but the message of election night was clear, and most telling in Margiotta’s race. He was defeated in a Republican district that he and the current Republican majority drew to maintain their control.

Progressives did better in municipal elections too. Greensboro’s first Republican Mayor, elected two years ago, ran well behind his Democratic challenger and is headed for a runoff.

Raleigh voters not only elected a progressive mayor in Nancy McFarlane, they easily approved bond issues for housing and transportation over the objections of the state chapter of Americans for the Prosperous and other anti-government activists.

You might be tempted to say that local elections are different and the outcomes don’t tell us much about what is likely to happen in November, but there are signs that the results this week are evidence of a new trend in the country and maybe the need for a reinterpretation of what happened in 2010.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and even though he’s trying to disown anything from his reasonable past, he remains the most moderate candidate in the field and the one the Tea Party wing of the GOP seems least comfortable with.

President Obama’s approval ratings continue to sputter, but remarkably he leads most Republican challengers in North Carolina even with our high unemployment rate and economic anxiety.

The proposals in Obama’s jobs plan poll well across the country and so does the notion that corporations and the wealthy ought to pay their share of taxes.

Even the right-wing Civitas Institute confirms it. The groups latest ridiculously worded poll found that 52 percent of North Carolina voters believe that “government should redistribute wealthy by increasing taxes on wealthy earners.”

Imagine the results if they had asked the question fairly.

Something is definitely in the air these days. The anger that the conservative propaganda machine turned against government two years ago has now shifted to Wall Street, to the chagrin of the financial industry so used to having its way with the politicians it buys.

People seem to have caught on that it’s not a good idea to elect people who hate government to run government. And that simply tearing down public institutions like public schools and environmental protection programs makes things worse for our communities, not better.

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis has spent the week try to wriggle free from comments he made about dividing and conquering people on public assistance by trying to convince people with a disability to look down on the poor.

His suggestion to drug test state employees went over like a lead balloon with the State Employees Association that has inexplicably been generally supportive of Tillis’ and his fellow Republicans’ radical right-wing rule of the General Assembly.

Voters are starting to understand what the Republican agenda means for lives, teachers fired at their children’s schools, less financial aid for their kids in college, hateful and extreme rhetoric about their gay neighbors and friends.

People were mad and upset and anxious in 2010 and they lashed out at the polls. But it’s a safe bet they didn’t vote for the radical ideological agenda of the people they sent to Raleigh and Washington. 

They are learning that you can’t expect politicians who are against everything to get anything positive done.  This week’s elections may just be the beginning.