Is the NC Democratic Party the Toyota of State Politics? #9: Protective Wall of Silence Exposed Revealing Power-over-Principle Imperative

by johndavis, June 3, 2010

Part IV: Liability 9 “The Toyota affair emphasizes some basic points of management. First, any company, no matter how large and how famous for its merits, can stumble into grave error. Second, damaged pride and nervous fear make it difficult to correct the error in good time. Third, management decisions should normally never be taken
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Part IV: Liability 9

“The Toyota affair emphasizes some basic points of management. First, any company, no matter how large and how famous for its merits, can stumble into grave error. Second, damaged pride and nervous fear make it difficult to correct the error in good time. Third, management decisions should normally never be taken on the basis of profit forecasts alone.” Edward de Bono & Robert Heller, The Toyota disaster – and what we can learn from it[i]

This is Part IV in a series of reports suggesting that the North Carolina Democratic Party is much like the Toyota Motor Company in that they are both among the great organizational successes in American history, and both are losing market share because of sloppy standards and corrupt leaders.  Parts I, II, and III can be found at www.johndavisconsulting.com.

The 10 premises in the series, all political liabilities, lead to the following conclusion: Many believe that the only way North Carolina Republicans can seize power in 2010 is to raise the political bar closer to that of Democrats.  Well, what if Democrats lower their political bar closer to the GOP?  Republicans win.  And that is what is happening in this state.

The following paragraph is restated from the last report for emphasis:  What makes 2010 potentially catastrophic for North Carolina Democrats is that the 10 political liabilities are unfolding at the same time.  Any one or several of them would not be politically catastrophic.  Many times down through the decades, Democrats have weathered eras of corrupt leaders; they have overcome Republican-friendly years, weak governors, high turnover of incumbents, unpopular presidents, budget problems, economic slumps, anti-establishment voters, third party movements, low turnout, declining party loyalty, high unemployment, unpopular wars and a surge in opposition strength … but not at the same time like we are seeing today.

In Parts I, II and III of the series, I wrote about liabilities including:

#1:       A Weak Democratic Governor Will be a Drag on Democratic Candidates

#2:       Basnight’s Cash on Hand Down by 30% with a Tougher Hill to Climb

#3:       Democrats have all of the Power and Get all of the Blame

#4:       A Nation and State of Voters Fearing Financial Collapse Due to Spending

#5:       Corrupt Leaders: Toyota the Safety Automaker; Perdue the Ethics Governor

#6:       The Issue is the Economy, and Democrats Own the Economy

#7:       Regnat Populus!  Dissatisfied Voters View “Ins” as Dismissive and Un-American

#8:       Enthusiasm + Internet = Turnout; Party Infrastructural Advantage Threatened

Here is number nine:

#9:       Protective Wall of Silence Exposed Revealing Power-over-Principle Imperative

Those who make the laws should abide by them. Those who would be leaders should lead by example. These two moral imperatives have been overshadowed in the North Carolina Democratic Party by their #1 moral imperative:  Partisan power at all costs.

North Carolina Democrats offer protection for their errant leaders behind a wall of silence.  If one among them breaks the law (quid pro quo deals, Cannonsgate, quid pro quo deals, illegal flights, quid pro quo deals, tax evasion, and more quid pro quo deals), or compromises principles and values (Law Enforcement Associates' no-bid contract, university job plus 88% salary increase for Gov’s wife, a judicial district for your DA buddy who lost his election, using the “N” word in front of your six-year-old child, $27,012 for limo services in France), the first sense of moral obligation for North Carolina Democrats is to keep quiet and bide their time.

Keep Your Mouth Shut Long Enough, and the Problem will Go Away

Toyota handled its problems with defective accelerator pedals on millions of its vehicles the same way North Carolina Democrats have handled their problems with defective leaders: they stonewalled the public.  “They did try to hide it — that’s what we accused them of — and they’ve agreed to that,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the Associated Press, upon announcing the largest fine in department history in April of this year.  Toyota put profit over principle.  They knew parts were defective and kept it under wraps.  If it were not for whistleblowers forcing exposure, people would still be dying in runaway Toyota automobiles.

Democrats know that they can use their unchecked power to muscle everyone with a legislative agenda to be a stone in their protective wall of silence.  From lobbyists and governmental agency heads, to members of boards and commissions, education officials … even some news reporters; all are aware that you better protect the leadership at all costs or you don’t get access.

No access means no money, no new buildings, no inside scoop, no road contracts … no nothing.

Vigilant Prosecutors, Turncoat Squealers and Citizen Corruption Cybercops

We all know that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and, as Democrats have held absolute power in our state it should come as no surprise that a parade of its leaders are corrupt.  However, no matter how reasoned that conclusion, it’s never pleasant to watch the fall.

I find it painful to look at news photos of state leaders whose character flaws led to their fall from grace in this decade; like former NC House Speaker Jim Black (corruption), former U.S. Congressman Frank Ballance (money laundering), former Ag Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps (extortion), former Rep. Thomas Wright (fraud), former Rep. Michael Decker (conspiracy), former Rep. Paul Miller (fraud), former U.S. Senator John Edwards (indictment likely coming for illegal use of campaign funds), Ruffin “Little Governor” Poole (56 indictments traded for one count of income tax evasion if he would squeal), Sen. R.C. Soles, current Permanent Chairman of the NC Senate Democratic Caucus (assault with a deadly weapon); Rusty Carter (illegal campaign contributions); former Gov. Mike Easley (indictments coming any day now); former Sen. Tony “Back Room Deal” Rand (under investigation).

Throughout the week of former Gov. Easley’s hearings conducted by the State Board of Elections, I sat in front of my laptop watching the live web broadcast.  What unfolded was a spectacle reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s answers to questions about his affair with Monica Lewinski.  Clinton’s most famous feat of verbal acrobatics was, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

There was legal zigzagging aplenty that week in Raleigh, as well as a suspiciously concerted use of the expression “I do not recall.”  Ahhhh, but the wall, the wall must be protected at all costs; our power is threatened by forthrightness … we must rise above principle and protect the wall!

Thanks to vigilant prosecutors, whistleblowers, turncoat squealers, investigative reporters with the news media, along with private organizations with their own snoops, many self-indulgent and criminal Democrats have been exposed.  However, the most powerful force bringing accountability to public servants are thousands of angry citizens armed with computers and their relentless outbursts of indignation about corrupt leadership over the Internet.  They have helped expose the Democratic Party’s protective wall of silence; its power-over-principle imperative compromised by the fearlessness of citizen corruption cybercops.

We must rise above principle and protect the wall!

Both the Toyota Motor Company and the North Carolina Democratic Party, have demonstrated Edward de Bone and Robert Heller’s premise that any organization "can stumble into grave error;" that both pride and fear "make it difficult to correct the error in good time;" and that management decisions should not be based on profit (or partisan power) alone.[i]

Senior managers at Toyota have done their company a great disservice by not speaking out in a timely manner about engineering problems that were a serious public safety threat.  Likewise, senior officials with the Democratic Party, both current and former leaders, have done their party a great disservice by not speaking out in a timely manner against those among them who chose to break the law, along with those who ignored the moral imperative to lead by example.

Party leaders like Senate President pro tem Marc Basnight helped erect and maintain the protective wall of silence, ignoring calls for the resignation of those in his caucus who have broken the law and compromised principles and values and themselves … like Sen. R.C. Soles, the Permanent Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.  The Charlotte Observer called for his resignation last week after he introduced blatantly political bills that smacked of cronyism, “a vivid picture of everything that's wrong with Tar Heel politics,” said the Observer.[ii] The Fayetteville Observer titled its editorial, Cronies – Sen. Soles shows why it’s time for him to go.[iii]

On Tuesday, The Brunswick Beacon reported that the Brunswick County Democratic Party Executive Committee had passed a resolution against bills by Soles.[iv] David Redwine, the Senate Democratic candidate running for Soles’ seat, spoke against Soles' bill, calling it "cronyism."

Sen. R.C. Soles, Permanent Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, continues to enjoy the support of the Senate Democratic Caucus despite 40 emergency calls to Soles’ Tabor City home and law office in the past four years involving a shooting, attempted burglary, assaults, breaking and entering, young men high on drugs stalking Soles, loud cursing, and shots being fired.[v]

A house Soles purchased for a teenage boy was burned by an arsonist; Soles’ teenage friend was caught driving without a license and was arrested for fleeing police in a high-speed chase in the Corvette Soles bought for him.  Soles, 74 years-old, also bought the 17-year-old a pair of four-wheelers and provided him with a generous allowance.  The teenager’s sister told a reporter for WWAY, “He’s [Soles] threatened his life many times.”[vi]

Soles beat charges of conspiracy, vote-buying and perjury in back in 1983.  And, with the help of a good defense attorney, he got off with a $1000 fine on an assault with a deadly weapon charge earlier this year.  What he cannot beat is the stain he has left on the integrity of the Senate.

All Senate Democrats have stood silent and in support of their leader R.C. Soles, the Permanent Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and should be ashamed of themselves for such cowardly and unprincipled leadership.  Party patriarchs and matriarchs, along with business leaders, have stood silent as well, and should be equally ashamed of themselves for such cowardly and unprincipled leadership.  Soles has no business in a leadership role.

Ahhhh, but the wall, the wall must be protected at all costs; our power is threatened by forthrightness … we must rise above principle and protect the wall!

“We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves.”

Gov. Beverly Perdue, who honed her values in the state senate, is equally guilty of stonewalling those who seek to expose the self-indulgent and the criminals in her party.  Every effort to get Perdue to take a stand for ethics reform is ignored.  “You promised a raft of ethics reforms to restore public confidence badly shaken by investigations of your fellow Democratic leaders’ proven and alleged shenanigans,” writes columnist Ruth Sheehan last week in the News & Observer, “I gotta wonder, though: What are you waiting for?,” asks Sheehan.

Perdue knows the importance of the wall of silence for the sake of partisan power.  She dare not enact ethics legislation while her unprincipled, self-indulgent and criminal friends are still operating with reckless abandon behind the protective wall of silence.  She dare not support legislation that would allow for state investigative grand juries, giving state prosecutors the authority to investigate public corruption and not leave that to the feds alone; legislation supported by our Attorney General, Roy Cooper, a Democrat.

Perdue, along with Basnight and other legislative leaders, have said publically that ethics must wait until other priorities like jobs are addressed.  That’s why so many Democrats are in trouble.  Ethics, principles and values were never a priority.

John F. Kennedy, in the opening chapter to his book Profiles in Courage, makes a strong case for the importance of partisan loyalty.  But then he adds, "We cannot permit the pressures of party responsibility to submerge on every issue the call of personal responsibility.”[vii]

Kennedy understood all of the pressures of a public office holder, especially the constant pressure to compromise.  He admired the courageous compromises made by fellow senators despite the protestations of rigid extremists among their constituency.  "We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure,” writes Kennedy, “But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not of principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves.  We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals."[viii]

Those who make the laws should abide by them. Those who would be leaders should lead by example. These two moral imperatives have been overshadowed in the North Carolina Democratic Party by their #1 moral imperative:  Partisan power at all costs.

North Carolina Democrats have compromised their principles, their ideals and themselves, thereby lowering their political bar and giving Republicans an opportunity to win a majority of the seats in either the state Senate or House, perhaps both, this fall.



[i] http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/toyota-disaster

[ii] http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/25/1455885/senators-maneuvers-reflect-rot.html

[iii] http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2010/05/27/1001957

[iv] http://brunswickbeacon.com/content/soles-introduces-third-controversial-bill-brunswick-county

[v] StarNews ONLINE, “Teen with ties to Sen. R.C. Soles back in jail,” Sept. 15, 2009, by Shelby Sebens

[vi] http://www.wwaytv3.com/node/17411

[vii] Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy, Harper & Row, 1956; Pg. 34

[viii] Ibid, Pg. 39-40.


[i] http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/toyota-disaster

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