Democrats and their allies need to take a step back and look at their situation. At the state level, they are the minority party with very little influence over legislation. In the upcoming election, the Hagan re-election campaign will likely have as much impact on the outcome of the midterm elections as any single factor.  If she goes down, Democrats down-ballot will probably lose big in November.

However, Democrats are acting like a majority party pushing an agenda instead of staying on the attack. The new centerpiece of the Democrats’ message is a call for raising teacher salaries to the national average. Unfortunately, Democrats don’t have the power to pass anything but they do have the power to bash everything. They should stick to that.

The call for raising teacher pay heralds back to the mid-1990s when Democrats used the issue to focus attention on education. The difference, though, is that, back then, the party controlled the Governor’s mansion and the state Senate. They needed to let voters know what they were going to do with that power. That’s certainly not the case today.

Democrats need to learn how to be a minority party. Their job, politically, is to shine a light on the missteps of the Republican majority–and bash them unmercifully for their mistakes and bad policies. It’s a whole lot easier to get people to vote against something than to vote for it.

So, Democrats, don’t waste your energy promoting things you can’t pass, especially something like teacher pay raises. It’s easily co-opted and if it does pass, you won’t get credit for it anyway. So keep your eye on the ball and stay on the attack. Your targets are Thom Tillis and the Republicans in the legislature. They’ve given you plenty of ammunition. Use it.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >

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