North Carolina progressives can be a frustrated lot. Channeling the views of many, BlueNC stalwart scharission wrote, “We don’t have ‘regular’ liberals here in North Carolina with an extremist fringe. We have Dixiecrats and corporate rats, and anyone to the left of them is what I’d call ‘sane and enlightened.” Be that (or not) as it may, Senator Hagan’s vote for Manchin-Toomey opens up new possibilities for our state’s center-left.

The point is not that Hagan took a risk by voting for expanded background checks. It’s that she didn’t. A recent poll by Project New America found that 79% of North Carolinians support mandating background checks for more gun sales. In contrast to 2008, when she went out of her way to express reverence for the Second Amendment, this time Hagan has determined that, for the voters, gun safety matters, too. On a controversial issue, it was wise to tack left.

To be clear, I am not saying the whole state has become Chapel Hill. Hagan’s own record demonstrates that. But there are issues where the interests of the left and the views of the people now coincide. Progressives should seize this moment, and advocate hard for policies that both groups may support. For starters, establishing a state minimum wage seems as good a cause as any.

Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.

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