Now that you’ve got their attention…

by | Jun 4, 2013 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGA | 9 comments

When it comes to audiences, the American public is a tough crowd. It’s hard to get their attention, and when you do, they have a short attention span, a shorter memory and little patience for subtlety or innuendo. So when you get their attention, make your point quickly, make it simple and make it stick.

Right now, the Monday protesters at the General Assembly have the attention of the media and the public. It’s time to simplify and clarify the message in terms that North Carolinians of all stripes can understand and remember. The message should stay away from judgmental language and focus on specific policies that directly impact the day-to-day lives of a majority of citizens.

Instead of discrimination and racism, talk about health care and class size. There are plenty of people who don’t believe the legislators are either discriminatory or racist but still believe they are wrong to raise class size and deny health care. If we want to win in 2014, we need them on our side.

The message is simple: The policies of the Republican-controled legislature are bad for North Carolina families and children. The supporting arguments are:

  • They’re hurting public education by raising class size on our youngest children at the same time they are eliminating teacher assistants from elementary schools.
  • They are denying at-risk 4 year-olds access to our nationally recognized Pre-K program  even though the program reduces dropout rates and improves chances of graduating.
  • They denied health care to 500,000 of our most vulnerable citizens even though the program would not have cost the state a dime.
  • They denied benefits to unemployed people suffering from the worst recession in 80 years.
  • They are cutting $50 million from our public university system.
  • They did all this while giving massive tax cuts to the richest people in the state.

Voters are self-interested. Stay focused on the tangible impact that GOP policies have on their lives or the lives of their friends and loved ones. Don’t argue about the motivations or reasons Republicans passed these policies. A year and a half from now, when their kids or grandkids are in large classes with overwhelmed teachers, they’ll remember who did it. They won’t care whether they were discriminatory or not.



  1. Mary Brown Kilburn

    This is SO WISE AND SO WELL stated. I wish everyone could read it. I hope the Moral Monday strategists, particularly, will heed it.

  2. Cynthia Bunn

    From my good friend and excellant teacher of 4-year olds in the WCPSS: Bullet #2 in the article: “They are denying childcare to at-risk 4 year-olds even though the program reduces dropout rates and improves chances of graduating.” What they are denying at-risk 4 year olds is NOT, and I repeat, NOT CHILDCARE!!!! It is a high quality social-emotional and academic program that each and every child deserves in order to be as successful as possible!!!! And… those who teach them are HIGHLY TRAINED PROFESSIONALS – NOT, and I repeat, NOT BABYSITTERS!!! I wish the legislators would come walk in my shoes for 1 hour and see the truth!!!

      • Cyndi Bunn

        Thank you, Thomas.

      • J. E.

        I am Cyndi’s friend. Thank you for “fixing” bullet #2. Mostly, however, I thank you for your voice and support for the PreK program!!!

  3. C. Marthinson

    If we sit by and say nothing about efforts to change election and voting laws, than by November 2014, it may be impossible to excise this cancer from the General Assembly. They are rigging the game as we twiddle our thumbs. -a guy who was arrested yesterday for attempting to ask for redress of grievances at the General Assembly.

  4. Charles

    I’m a bit conflicted about this. I enjoy large gatherings meant to spur change, but I find they’re far more effective when they occur the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The Republican legislature (and yes, Terri, their conservative Democratic comrades) did not come into power through force or fiat. We voted for them. Maybe not you or me, but can we honestly act surprised when knee-jerk conservative politicians behave in knee-jerk conservative ways?

    Politics is the art of salesmanship. Sometimes you have to make a crappy purchase or two in order to remember to stop buying a certain brand. Kudos to folks for fully unboxing the true nature of the GOP’s product (to stretch the metaphor), but the massive protest that actually MATTERS will have to wait until the fall of 2014.

    In short: elections matter. Much more than protests do.

  5. Terri

    I agree with your advice, but I don’t think it is productive to label this the Republican-led legislature. There are too many conservative Democrats voting with the majority. I’d add one more issue: They are proposing to allow guns on college and community college campuses.

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