Rule #10: Find a New Balance or Fall like a House of Cards; A lesson for NC Democrats in Pope Francis’ warning to the Catholic Church

by johndavis, September 23, 2013

Top 10 Keys for NC Democratic Political Recovery Rule #10: Find a New Balance or Fall like a House of Cards; A lesson for NC Democrats in Pope Francis’ warning to the Catholic Church September 23, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 20           3:13 pm This is the final report in the 10-part series on the
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Top 10 Keys for NC Democratic Political Recovery


Rule #10: Find a New Balance or Fall like a House of Cards; A lesson for NC Democrats in Pope Francis' warning to the Catholic Church


September 23, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 20           3:13 pm

This is the final report in the 10-part series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats that began on June 6, 2013, with a report on the importance of reestablishing ideological balance in the Democratic legislative caucuses in order to restore the party’s mutually beneficial and long-standing relationship with the state's business community.

I argued in that first report that Democrats had become “so powerful that they no longer saw the value in maintaining ideologically-balanced state Senate and House caucuses.”  Evidence of the lack of ideological balance in the caucuses is found in the 2011 business ratings of North Carolina Senators and House members conducted by the business-backed North Carolina FreeEnterprise Foundation:

  • Only 2 of 19 Senate Democrats had business ratings above 70% (business-friendly is 70%+)
  • Only 6 of 52 House Democrats had business ratings above 70%

I thought about that first report when I read the statement Pope Francis made in an interview published September 19, 2013, in La Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit magazine, urging the faithful to "find a new balance; otherwise … the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

Likewise, finding a new balance is the overarching key to political recovery for state Democrats.  In the absence of ideological balance, the party is likely to fall like a house of cards.

Pope Francis has shaken the worldwide Catholic hierarchy to its core with statements about how the church condemns those who have liberal views on social issues like marriage, contraception and abortion; women in the priesthood.  Those who disagree are driven away.

For many, the church seems to hate the sin and the sinner. Thus the need for a new balance.

Centrist Democrats and Moderate Independents are Not Welcome

Now you know how those who are center-right on fiscal and other issues feel in today’s North Carolina Democratic Party.  They feel condemned by the liberal inquisition of the left; not welcome.

Most of those who have left the North Carolina Democratic Party do not want to be Republicans.  They are simply fiscal conservatives or center-right Democrats on the most important issues of the day.

North Carolina voters are not becoming more Republican.

If the state was becoming more Republican, it would show up in the voter registration numbers.  The fact is, the percentage of Republicans on our voter rolls is shrinking.  Why?  They are just like the Catholic Church and the state Democrats; they condemn and drive away all but the hardliners.

  • January 25, 2011, the day the first GOP legislative majority in a century was sworn in, Republicans had 31.54% of all NC voters (Democrats 44.59%; Unaffiliated 23.70%)
  • Today, after three years of Republican legislative dominance, the GOP has shrunk to 30.77% of all NC voters ((Democrats 42.77%; Unaffiliated 26.13%)

As you can see, voters are choosing not to register with either party. They do not feel welcomed. They are now Unaffiliated, numbering 1.7 million of all North Carolina voters.

This report is the final in a 10-part series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats.  The rules thus far are:

  • Rule #1: If You want to Lead a Purple, Business-Friendly State, You have to Recruit a Purple, Business-Friendly Slate.
  • Rule #2: It's All About Who Does the Asking; Get the Right Person to Ask the Right Person to do the Right Task.
  • Rule #3 Moral Mondays - A Therapeutic Dose of Political Energy Restoring Rhythm to the Heart of the Democratic Party.
  • Rule #4:  Investors will Return to the Party of Bold, Visionary Leaders and Ideas when it has Bold, Visionary Leaders and Ideas.
  • Rule #5:  There is Gold to be Mined among Professional Women for the Next Generation of Candidates and Campaign Leaders.
  • Rule #6:  Stale Bread and Butter Social Issues won’t Nourish Moderate Voters Hungry for a Meat and Potatoes Economy.
  • Rule #7: Where are the others? The Next Generation of Young Democratic Candidates and Party Leaders. (A guest report written by Madison McLawhorn, NCSU)
  • Rule #8: A New Covenant with North Carolina Voters Modeled on an Old 1991 Speech by Bill Clinton on Accountability and Responsibility.
  • Rule #9: Win North Carolina’s Prized Independent Voters by “Improving Public Education” to a Globally Competitive Standard.

Today, I am adding Rule #10: Find a New Balance or Fall like a House of Cards; A lesson for NC Democrats in Pope Francis' warning to the Catholic Church.

Finding a New Balance by Recruiting Business People

Looking back over the series in preparation for the final Rule #10, I realized that the need for finding balance has been the essential message of all of the reports.

For example, Rule #1: If You want to Lead a Purple, Business-Friendly State, You have to Recruit a Purple, Business-Friendly Slate, emphasized the need for Democrats to rebuild their relationship with the state’s business community by recruiting local business people to run and serve in elective office.

The success of the North Carolina Democrats during the 20th Century was founded on the collaboration of business, education and government leaders on mutually beneficial economic development initiatives.  The world’s leading technology-based corporations came to North Carolina because of government investment in an infrastructure of research parks supported by an internationally acclaimed university and community college system.

The added value of the party’s historic relationship with the business community is that they are leaders in the political investor community.  Democrats need investors because you can't govern if you don't win political races.  The Democratic Party’s strength has always come from a bond with business.

The simple reason that only 8 of 71 Democrats in the 2011-2012 North Carolina General Assembly had pro-business ratings is that Democrats did not recruit business candidates. Recruiting business candidates is a task that simply must become a priority if the party is to find a new balance.

Finding a New Balance by Recruiting Women and Young People

Speaking of strengthening the party by recruiting candidates and party leaders, this series reminded Democrats that since 2000, there have been 40 statewide NC General Election races that came down to a male candidate vs. a female candidate, and that women won 31 of those 40 races, or 77.5%.

More significant, 24 of those 31 female winners were Democratic women.  Only 7 were Republicans.  Democratic women have defeated Republican men in 80% of statewide matchups since 2000.

In addition to emphasizing the importance of recruiting women in the party’s political recovery strategy, this series also brought attention to the need to recruit young Democrats.

In the compelling guest report, Where are the others? The Next Generation of Young Democratic Candidates and Party Leaders, Madison McLawhorn, a 21-year old Senior Communications Major at North Carolina State University, wrote, “There is a leadership deficit in the party right now.  The emerging generation of Democrats needs to be more involved. The party needs us, and must make the next generation of young Democratic candidates and party leaders the priority.”

McLawhorn argued that young Democrats should be shadowing every key person in political campaigns, from pollsters and opposition research professionals to the TV ad producers and fundraisers.  “The campaigns could get more free help,” said McLawhorn, “and students would have an opportunity to actively participate in the process and learn hands-on lessons for the future—which may, in turn, become their future in politics.”

Finding a New Balance with Issues that Welcome Persuadable Voters

Reestablishing an ideologically balanced Democratic Party through recruiting candidates and party leaders was the primary focus of half of the 10-part series.  The other half of the series focused on reestablishing ideological balance through issues.

Although Moral Mondays have been like a defibrillator for the hearts of Democrats, a life-saving jolt sparking a renewed sense of possibility, persuadable voters are more interested in Unemployment/Jobs, Healthcare and Education than photo IDs or the number of days for early voting.

In fomenting a successful political rebellion, you have to do more than stand against the opposition.  Your credibility comes from offering a more compelling slate of policy solutions to the problems facing the state, including revised solutions to your own failed policies.

Do Democrats really think that they are going to retake the purse strings of the tenth largest state in the nation by protesting the morality of Republican election law reform?  Leaders in both parties can claim the Sermon on the Mount as moral justification for all of their political priorities.

Political recovery is not about morality, it’s about the hard work of recruiting and party building and strategic planning and careful targeting and flawless timing and skillful execution of each tactical maneuver.  You can’t do the hard work of recovery with your hands cuffed.

Demographic trends driven by population growth argue that Democrats have a bright future in North Carolina, but how bright and how soon will be determined by how quickly the party finds a new balance with leaders and issues that will make centrist Democrats and moderate independents feel welcomed.

And that’s why today, I am ending the series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats with Rule #10: Find a New Balance or Fall like a House of Cards; A lesson for NC Democrats in Pope Francis' warning to the Catholic Church.

- END -

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John N. Davis, Editor

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