Speaker Tillis exposes his ignorance of House 6 issues
July 15, 2012UPDATED AND CORRECTED--In one of the most astounding events in recent years, Speaker Thom Tillis waded into the controversial Republican Primary—repeat Republican Primary—in an amazing Facebook exchange with Lisa Marley, the publisher of the Truth or Dare blog and a well-respected Republican activist from Dare County. You can read the exchange—before it was deleted, apparently by Tillis or someone using his account--by clicking here.
We find these postings by both Tillis and Lewis to be amazing. Amazingly ignorant. Both men are obviously ignorant of the facts. And even those facts they do know that are accurate express an ignorance of what the issues are in the House 6 GOP primary. So let us dissect those issues, both for those who have not been keeping up with DownEast politics and for Speaker Tilllis and Mr. Lewis.
First, this issue involves a Republican Primary and run-off. It has nothing to do with Arthur Williams running against Bill Cook and Tillis supporting Cook in 2010, as he claims. As Lisa Marley quickly pointed out to The Speaker, that was a general election when Williams ran as a Democrat. What may seem as a minor technical difference to many, certainly should have been caught as essential to a seasoned politician. Surely party leaders should understand the fundamental difference between a primary and a general election. That is amazing ignorance.
Secondly, for Tillis to base his "support" for Williams on the fact that Williams voted for a few bills Tillis wanted him to vote for/againstt is almost as astounding. We would challenge Speaker Tillis to tell us precisely how many such bills a legislator must vote against his party before he is considered a traitor? How many before he is considered unreliable? How many before he is considered an opportunist? Think about the ultimate corollary to what the Speaker is saying here. It ultimately leads one, logically, to the amazing conclusion that party does not matter as much to the Speaker as does personal loyalty. Does the Speaker really want to try to lead Republicans like that?
Follow us here…we see nothing wrong with a legislator breaking from party ranks to vote "across the isle." We wish more would do so. But it is an entirely different matter when party leaders condone, encourage and reward such renegade behavior. Most students of Poltiics 101 know that party discipline is a fundamental element of the legislative process. Without it you have political chaos. Why even have a "caucus" or whips? Why even record votes by party? But more than that, if this is the standard, how can a party leader ask the voters to support a candidate because the candidate is of his particular party? In other words, if party does not matter, what difference should party make to a voter when considering for whom to vote?
Furthermore, we think it commendable that a legislator would buck the party traces in some instances. But the issue is why they do so. Upon what principle does one abandon the party that elected you, in order to vote with the other party?
But listen carefully to how Mr. Tillis determines why voters should commend Arthur for switching to vote against his party. He does so because he says Arthur helped him out…"when I was the minority Whip and I sought his support. He voted against the democratic (we assume he meant Democrat) majority with the GOP minority to defeat progressive liberal legislation. If someone asks me my opinion of Arthur, I will include this background…"
So we will ask you Mr. Tillis: Please tell us specifically what "progressive liberal legislation" you got Arthur to buck his party on. What bills in particular. Tell us the quid pro quo that accompanied the "switch." Let us decide if it was a principled vote or an expedient vote. Let us decide if it was rooted in corrpution.
Regardless of those specifics, the voters of House 6 should look at the totality of Arthur's record. A handfull of votes do not exonerate Arthur's support of Jim Black and Bev. Perdue/Mike Easley over and over, particularly on raising taxes and adding to the size and cost of government. After all Civitas gave Arthur an "F" for three terms based on dozens of votes. Does that record not matter? After all, Arthur supported Barack Obama and ObamaCare. If a representative votes 100 times for "progressive liberal" legislation and 5 times for conservative legislation does that make him worthy of being considered a conservative? Of course not. The Speaker should know this. But beyond Arthur Williams, is this the modus operandi the Speaker wishes to promote in his caucus?
No, what we hear Speaker Tillis saying is exactly what Hood Richardson has written about here over and over. Arthur is a political wheeler-dealer....a political hack if you will. He always has been. Lord knows, he campaigns on that premise. Hood has contended that the reason Tillis is supporting Arthur is because he believes Arthur will be one of his puppets.
If Arthur would sell out the Democrat Party, why should Republicans in House 6 not believe he will just as easily sell them out as he would those who contributed and worked to get him elected as a Democrat?
Tillis' comments on Facebook simply confirm what Hood has said all along. Arthur can't be trusted to vote as a principled conservative. The key word is principled. Arthur's principles are rooted in expediency. Clearly. Tillis not only confirms that, but commends him for it.
And that is NOT what we need representing House 6 and we would even go so far as to suggest that this kind of Politics of Expediency is not what we need in North Carolina. We need principled politics. Tell us what you believe. Tell us what your principles are before we vote. Then if we elect you, stick to those principles. If that means voting contrary to the political bosses, tell us the principles upon which you went against party. But don't expect us to vote for a guy because he "helped out" the political bosses.
Arthur Williams represents exactly what we do NOT need again in Eastern North Carolina. We got rid of Basnight. We don't need to substitute a Republican Machine for a Democrat Machine. What we need are principled representatives who run on principle and then vote on principle. They then articulate how they applied those principles. We heard none of this from Speaker Tillis in defending his support of Arthur.
And on Lewis' comments, they are so off the wall as to not deserve any more comment here than what Lisa Marley posted on Facebook. (Note: There was initial confusion about which David Lewis was posting. Originally it was assumed that it was the GOP National Committeeman but Truth or Dare later corrected this when notified that it was a different David Lewis). But to this Mr. Lewis we would simply suggest he talk to a Marine to learn what semper fidelis means and why it is important. Mr. Tillis might do well to do likewise. The issue is not what party Mr. Williams registered with, but the issue is what his record was and if he has had an epiphany upon what record can we base an acceptance of such?
But finally, the most ignorant thing we heard in all this from both Mr. Tillis and Mr. Lewis is that they "hope" that all Republicans will join together after the primary and go into the General Election united. To that we will tell them how it is DownEast. Ain't gonna happen. We've already explained this in earlier articles. Here's the essence of the ignorance that Speaker Tillis and Mr. Lewis are afflicted with when it comes to understanding DownEast politics:
In North Carolina, and particularly in the East, this you can bank on: Black voters will vote Democrat. There is a GOP base that will always vote Republican. But there are not enough of them to elect anyone in a highly contested race. To carry most counties Down East you must get the conservative Democrat vote and the GOP base. But that is still not enough. You must get from 10-15% of your vote from unaffiliated voters who do not vote according to party label.
But the absolute determining factor is not the vote distribution per se, but rather the turnout. The share of the votes cast that a candidate gets is determined by one factor and one factor alone: Who turns out to vote.
And that is where the local GOP and TEA Party activists come in. They are the ones who determine the marginal turnout that carries the election. They are not the majority. But they make the majority, depending on which way they swing or whether they turn out voters or not.
A significant percentage of these swing voters will actually vote against selected candidates. That is what hurt Randy Ramsey. And it will hurt Arthur Williams if he happens to win the House 6 run-off. He will not likely get elected in the General Election. There will be a sufficient number of voters who will vote for "anybody but Arthur" to allow Paul Tine to win when you add these swing voters to the solid Democrat base he is guaranteed. The GOP and TEA Party activists actually don't need to vote for Tine. All they have to do is "sit it out." By that we mean not work to turn out the marginal swing voters for the Republican candidate.
Tillis, Berger and the state GOP leadership are making a serious mistake. They cannot win by supporting candidates like Arthur Williams, Randy Ramsey etc. And if the conservative activists sit it out in November, 2012 then candidates like Bob Steinberg, Bill Cook and other Republicans who have to get a high turnout of conservative and Republican voters, along with the swing voters, are going to be in serious trouble. We can even envision the GOP losing their majority in the House, not because thousands of voters voted for Democrats rather than Republicans, but simply because they didn't vote. And it is the activists who turn out the vote. Republican control of the Legislature depends on the activists not taking a walk on election day.
And if that happens (the disenchanted activists take a walk) Mitt Romney is in serious trouble in North Carolina.