The arrogance of Democratic invulnerability in North Carolina has led to scandal after scandal, indictment after indictment, embarrassment after embarrassment, the loss of legislative power and political dominance, even scandal and academic fraud at our most revered universities. No leader is more vulnerable than those who think they are not vulnerable.
How the North Carolina Republican Party Can Maintain Political Power for 114 Years. Rule #1: Always remember that you are vulnerable
“Nothing will dry up a well of campaign contributions faster than the fear of being subpoenaed in a criminal proceeding.” John Davis Political Report, 1/11/2013
Friday, January 11, 2013 Vol. VI, No. 2 2:13 pm
The 114-year political winning streak for North Carolina Democrats ended Wednesday, January 9, 2013, with the swearing in of our state’s 170 state legislators. On that day, the political power of North Carolina Republicans over state government became absolute. Republican Governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate. Super majorities in both chambers.
Democrats had absolute power over North Carolina state government for all but four years since 1898. That was 1995 to 1999, when Republicans had a majority in the North Carolina House. A prized seat at the three-cornered table where all of the state budgeting decisions are made.
Granted, there were two Republican governors during the 20th Century. But they had no veto power. A Republican governor without veto power in the 20th Century had no power.
So, how long will the North Carolina Republican Party keep their absolute power? Can they match the Democrats’ winning streak of 114 Years? What are the rules for political longevity?
Rule #1: Always, always remember that you are vulnerable
In The Art of War, the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu teaches the importance of defending your position on the battlefield until it is safe to change to a more advantageous position. Don’t create opportunities for the enemy by making yourself vulnerable.
North Carolina Democrats never seemed to realize that they were creating opportunities for Republicans by making themselves vulnerable.
There were plenty of warning signs. Democrats should have known:
- A 10-year rash of embarrassing criminal indictments would scare off even the most loyal contributors;
- Allowing their legislative caucuses to become ideologically warped to the far left of center would scare off business leaders;
- If your leaders hog the glory and don’t build a deep bench of farm-team candidates you will wind up without a new generation when needed;
- If you stand with the U.S. President and his personal agenda (healthcare) and against the voters and their agenda (jobs and the economy), you are going get into a world of hurt. You may even lose the opportunity to remap political districts.
- Buying elections with obligatory loyalty from resentful contributors won’t stand the test of a strong challenge if you are vulnerable.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It makes you think you are not vulnerable.
The arrogance of Democratic invulnerability in North Carolina has led to scandal after scandal, indictment after indictment, embarrassment after embarrassment, the loss of legislative power and political dominance, even scandal and academic fraud at our most revered universities.
No leader is more vulnerable than those who think they are not vulnerable.
Rule #2: Criminal indictments will scare off contributors
Nothing will dry up a well of campaign contributions faster than the fear of being subpoenaed in a criminal proceeding. That’s what happened to Democrats during the last ten years.
- Federal prosecutor George Holding’s investigations into the campaign finance violations dried up many sources of Democratic contributions, especially in Eastern North Carolina.
- Prominent Eastern North Carolina Democratic fundraisers like Lanny Wilson, who resigned from the North Carolina Board of Transportation after being caught up in the investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign contributions, is a case in point.
- Investigations into campaign finance violations by Gov. Mike Easley were so pervasive over such a long period of time, leading to indictments, convictions and many embarrassing revelations involving everyone from Easley and his wife to prominent supporters, that major Democratic donors put their checkbooks back in their pockets.
- Gov. Beverly Perdue and her campaign staff, who also benefited from the fundraising muscle of Eastern North Carolina Democratic bag men, came under criminal investigation by federal and state prosecutors, leading to additional scrutiny of prominent Democratic fundraisers and ultimately more indictments and convictions.
Everyone was subpoenaed.
Here’s the problem: Everyone was subpoenaed. Nothing will dry up a well of campaign contributions faster than the fear of being subpoenaed in a criminal proceeding.
In addition to the national scandal involving North Carolina’s own U.S. Senator John Edwards, arguably the most despised Democratic leader in America in the last decade, our state has been embarrassed time and again by the indictments and convictions of Democrats like former state Sen. and U.S. Cong. Frank Ballance, former House Speaker Jim Black, former Commissioner of Agriculture Meg Scott Phipps, former state Rep. Thomas Wright, former Governor Mike Easley and his administration’s lawyer Ruffin Poole.
Last year, two former members of Governor Perdue’s campaign staff, her 2008 campaign finance director and her Western North Carolina office director, plead guilty to campaign finance violations.
Every Democrat on the list above violated Rule #1. They didn’t think they were vulnerable. As a result, they suffered the consequences of Rule #2: Indictments scare off contributors.
Republicans who think they can manage their newfound absolute power better than the Democrats should remember that just last July, one of their own, former GOP Rep. Steven LaRoque from Kinston, resigned from the House in light of federal criminal indictments.
Who will be next? The one that thinks he is not vulnerable.
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John N. Davis, Editor
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