On civility in public policy discourse

Is the polite facade crumbling?

“There are winners and losers in every election, but just because you don’t like the results or how the results were achieved doesn’t warrant what’s going on right now,” said Jeanette Doran, the executive director of the conservative N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. “There used to be this measure of Southern gentility. ... But when things get hardball, it sort of shocks the gentility.”

And very often that Southern gentility masked a deep undercurrent of bigotry, injustice, and undue influence being wielded by shadowy business interests that were anything but genteel. I'd rather have a public brawl, which just may reveal deeper motives, than a backroom deal that goes virtually unnoticed, any day of the week.

At the same time, experts suggest, hyper-partisanship can backfire, particularly for the Republicans now in power. It can generate apathy and disgust in the average voter, and going too far may unsettle the power-brokers’ support.

Good. And I don't mean that just for Republicans, either. Those power brokers will throw their money at whichever horse they think will lead them to the finish line victorious, and that victory usually signifies a loss for the public's best interests.

And as far as voters becoming apathetic and disgusted, I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. It may force them to look past campaign rhetoric with all the bells, whistles and trigger words, and start paying attention to how policies affect their families and community.

And under that kind of scrutiny, progressive ideas don't need power brokers to propel them forward. They stand on their own merits.


Agree: and political process matters

The quote by Jeanette Doran is pretty stupid, or very hypocritical. Phil Berger and Cherie Berry attacked Perdue's rush on Dix Hill as not being transparent and for being partisan. I agree.

But the GOP legislature could not have been more partisan in the drawing of the legislative and Congressional districts for 2012. An act that will have a much greater impact long-term.

Pot meet kettle. This hyperpartsanship takes a toll in public trust in government.

Martha Brock


In these troubled times in North Carolina, civility is for suckers.

Our government has been bought for a song by a handful of rich white men and their special interests. The proper response to this corporate coup is

  • Shock
  • Outrage
  • Anger
  • Litigation
  • And, if necessary, subversion

And not enough people are responding

Granted, there are some organizations like ProgressNC trying to rattle the cages, but I see very little outrage coming from the mainstream media, or even the NC Democratic Party itself. Which brings me to a rant (or a whine, if the reader sees fit to ascribe it).

I'm not a social media guru, but I do try to engage people on Twitter from time to time. And very often it's in an effort to gather information or disseminate such that I've gathered elsewhere. I have neither the time nor the resources to do the research and analysis that I desperately want to do, so social media (and this alleged crowdsourcing I hear so much about) is one of the only tools I have.

But when I do reach out, more often than not, I'm studiously ignored.

I can only assume it's because I'm not in whatever club I'm supposed to be to ask for said info. I'm not a political consultant or a party official, so ladder-climbing Democrats won't give me the time of day. Or maybe it's because I've criticized some Democrat or another for something when I should have ignored whatever they were doing. Sorry, I'm not wired that way.

And when reporters ignore me, which has become pretty much standard procedure, it may be because I'm not a "professional". Meaning, I bust my ass all day to pay the bills, and then devote most of my remaining waking hours to trying to make sense out of the state of our State. And I've probably stepped on a few of their toes, too.

To both of those groups, I say this: I respect what you do, and I don't fancy that I'm somehow better than you are. I know I'm not. And I don't expect you to respect what I do, but it sure would be nice for a change.

Okay, rant/whine is over.

I hope you're not holding your breath

Here's how I see it.

BlueNC went rogue about three years ago, poking a whole bunch of Very Important People in the eye with a very sharp stick. We've called out everyone from Art Pope to the News and Observer to Duke Energy to Bev Perdue to Pat McCrory to Dallas Whorehouse and more ... which has earned the disdain of nearly every establishment media professional and political operative in the state. They don't like it when we don't play by their rules. And they certainly don't like being criticized for incompetence, corruption, or both.

And thus we've been judged irrelevant. You are not a well-connected pundit. You may say the same thing that Gary Pearce says ... and often say it well ahead of him ... but that doesn't matter because you don't have a multi-million dollar opinion manufacturing machine and a direct line to the Powers that Be.

In short, BlueNC reflects nothing more than a smattering of pissed off liberals in North Carolina ... roughly 20,000 of them each month ... who are irrelevant to the Tarheel media establishment.

Over the past few years, I've had scores of conversations with reporters in New York, LA and DC who are interested in connecting with real people in North Carolina. I've had maybe one such conversation with any reporter on the ground here.

Sorry, old friend. Your personal brand is contaminated by BlueNC's because we fall well outside what's acceptable to North Carolina's politically correct Capital Press Corpse.

What anyone here thinks about the state of our democracy doesn't mean jack shit to them. You're just a citizen. You don't count - and neither do I.

Meh. I'd rather be contaminated

and free to pursue the truth, than germ-free and afraid of or not interested in the truth.

Civility, yes; partisanship, not so much

I support civility in public discourse. I do not support knee jerk opposition or support of laws or public projects based on party affiliation. That's just like wearing blinders. I have frequently considered dropping my party affiliation in recent months. But that would not solve any of my concerns with the problems with our political system.

I do think the rise in the number of voters registering Unafilliated is a result of both rancor and partisanship in NC and the US.

Martha Brock

I flipped to UNA

several years ago, mostly out of disgust with Democratic Party's penchant for corporate whoring. That said, I have never voted for a Republican and never will. I used to think they mean well, but were just misguided. Now I can't even give them credit for good intentions. They are evil, in my view ... power-hungry greeders of the vilest sort.

Re: Capital Press Corpse-like

As a former official Capitol Press Corps member, I am loving your rant, James. The corps seems to run as a pack,and any attack on one is an attack on all. Everyone asks the same questions to the same people. Not exactly investigative reporting. They're nice enough people. Just risk averse people.

Martha Brock