NC Republicans Ask Voters: ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’


Last fall, voters across North Carolina made their choices at the ballot box. In the next general election we will see whether they still like those they chose.

I recently read a post from state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover. He explains why he and Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, introduced a bill taking away our choice to vote a straight ticket. Republicans like more choice in theory. Because freedom. But they insist on taking away this choice. Plus a few others.

See, straight-ticket voting indicates “voter laziness,” says Goolsby. Meaning, 56 percent of North Carolina’s straight-ticket voters choose the other party, and that’s just wrong, as he sees it.

Or “You’re doing it all wrong, son,” as Foghorn Leghorn might see it. “Now a smart, I say, a smart voter….”

Goolsby and colleagues think busy working people should have to dig through thick stack of newspapers before voting. Or use their smart phones and laptops to bore down through the Internet and do their homework first. But mainly, by eliminating straight-ticket voting Goolsby is hoping — insisting — that voters try his brand.

A former colleague tells this story. He and his wife were out one night and ended up at some fancy brew pub with a beer list as long as your arm.

The waitress came over. Larry ordered a Budweiser.

His wife rolled her eyes and said, “That’s what you always get!”

She held up the beer list and said, “You should try something different.”

“I know what I like,” said Larry.

His wife ordered jamocha almond fudge pale ale or something.

When the beers arrived, she took one sip and scrunched up her face. She pushed the beer across the table and asked if Larry would drink it so she could order something else.

Larry smiled quietly, pulled his Bud a little closer and said again, “I know what I like.”

Larry also knows what he doesn’t like.

Larrys from both major North Carolina parties like voting a straight ticket. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what a lot of voters prefer. But since the senators don’t like how the straight-ticket math falls out, they insist on making it harder for every Larry to choose the brand he prefers.

But like your father (and Foghorn), these legislators believe they know better. In fact, Republicans in Raleigh are going out of their way to narrow voters’ choices. Like a stern father, they are not interested in helping you vote the way you want. These efforts are aimed at forcing more people to vote the way the GOP wants.

Daddy wants to make it harder for you to register to vote, and for people already registered, harder to get a ballot when they arrive to vote.

Daddy wants to make it less convenient to vote. Fifty-six percent of NC voters voted early in 2012. So Daddy wants a week’s fewer early voting days and a limit of one early voting location per county.

Daddy wants a tax penalty on the parents of in-state students who dare exercise the right the U.S. Supreme Court said students have to register and vote where they attend college.

And should Larry make it into the voting booth, Daddy insists that he work down through a list as long as your arm just so he can choose the brand he knew he wanted when he walked in the door.

Making voting easier for North Carolinians is the last thing on our Republican legislators’ minds. And at the next general election, when voters find they can no longer get away from work to vote when polls are open or, if they do, find that the early voting location they’ve used for years is gone when they get there, voters will find out just what these legislators had in mind.

And when Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and independents stand in long lines, or find that they have to leave the polls without voting because the lines are too long and voting machines too few, or at the end of those long lines they are turned away because they do not have the right documents when asked to show their papers, expect to see a lot of scrunched-up faces on North Carolinians who wish they had made different choices in November 2012.

{Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)


  1. I guess this confirms that votes are more dangerous than guns! Sort of brings to mind the old Corrosion of Conformity song…

  2. nick s says:

    “The senator believes that voters should cast their ballots for the best candidates, not a party. ”

    Yeah, because the average voter wants to work out the “best candidate” for State Commissioner Of Yak Shaving. It’s clearly not because Goober Goolsby’s preferred voting base is made up of “get government out of my Medicare” retirees with time on their hands.

    Voters in NC elect too many positions already. The concept of democratic accountability collapses for positions with specialized and limited functions, where the voting population is divided between a minority of people who care deeply about those functions and a majority that just wants the position filled by someone who broadly shares their political worldview. I may not like Pat McCrony, and I wouldn’t trust the gang of knuckleheads in Raleigh to run a funnel-cake stand without causing an inferno, but I still think those positions should be appointed.

  3. Tom Sullivan says:

    Raleigh knows best. Rob Christensen:

    I was sitting in a state House committee meeting the other day when the mayor of Sanford, a polite soft-spoken lady named Cornelia Olive, appeared hat in hand with a humble request.

    The town of Sanford – and the Lee County school board – had been running their community pretty well for decades, without a lot of fuss or nasty political fighting, she said. But a bill had been introduced to turn town council and school board elections into partisan affairs. None of the local elected officials had asked for it, she said. None had been consulted before hand. Nobody had even been given a chance to study it.

    Did Sanford really have to go to partisan elections?

    Yes, mayor, partisan elections you must have, the lawmakers replied.

    Well, if that was the case, Mayor Olive said, could you at least put it to a referendum of local residents?

    No, mayor. Such things were impossible. Case closed. The measure passed the Republican-controlled House in a party-line Republican vote.

    Such scenes are played out time and time again in the halls of the Legislative Building these days.

    Welcome to Raleigh – the home of big government conservatives.

  4. TJ says:

    Tom, you should’ve shared this:


    Gotta love this quote!:

    “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”

  5. Andrew Dahm says:

    Buried in the comments after the Christensen story, somebody mentioned this little gem. Smart people don’t vote all the time, and that’s what’s really wrong with this country.


  6. Andrew Dahm says:

    As irksome as the right’s whinging about a culture of dependence can be, I really feel like they’re onto something. We do have a malingering element in our society, and they’re the folks who don’t manage to find the time to read and study about stuff our country faces, talk things over with people they regard as un-insane, and, finally, vote.

    I am a slug, of course, only managing to do a day of door-to-door canvassing in the disaster that was 2010, write a few checks, and generally show up for this’n’that. But that is ‘party member’ malingering. That is quite distinct from ‘citizen’ malingering – staying up to date with issues and voting. every. time. is what we need, regardless of party affiliation or lack of same.

    I would bet that the number of hours required to be an adequately informed voter and to actually do the deed of scribbling on something and shoving it in a scanner is significantly less than the time required to complete forms and visit claims offices in order to be a welfare recipient. And, you don’t have to pee in a bottle. Yet.

  7. mcates says:


    The entire context of the exchange sheds more light on the issue and no surprise it is not quite so black and white as we have been led to believe.

    The committee passed the measure by voice vote. Bussian, the press association lobbyist, said the committee voted 6-5 to reject the measure. Tucker, the chair, rejected a subsequent appeal for a show of hands and declared the meeting adjourned.

    At that point, Hal Tanner, publisher of the Goldsboro News-Argus, approached Tucker. He told him he thought the vote was handled in a manner inconsistent with Republican stands for open government.

    “I said, ‘We just got through dealing with Jim Black,’?” Tanner later recalled, referring to the former Democratic House speaker jailed on corruption charges.

    “I’m not Jim Black, I’m not Jim Black,” an angry Tucker replied. Senate rules prohibit roll call votes in committee.

    Later, in an email to members, the press association quoted Tucker telling Tanner: “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”

    Tucker disputes the quote.

    “I said something to the effect that, ‘I’m the senator here, let me finish,’?” he said. “I just took offense to it because he impugned our integrity. And I took it personally.”

    Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/16/2830030/press-attorney-newspapers-targeted.html#storylink=cpy

  8. mcates says:

    For all I know, this Senator could be a big jerk. However, it is interesting that the media that is making the claim about the quote are not the one’s writing the articles. Instead they are just being quoted.

    Kind of think that if I heard that comment, I would be the one to write about it. I’m sure there is a good explanation, I just don’t know what it is.

  9. Andrew Dahm says:

    Mark, the “I’m the Senator” remark is a here-and-now journalistic setting for the broader, contextual idea that our current Republican-led state government is unique in its disregard for local voices, interests and politics.

    As much fun as it would be to debate whether Tucker said what he said, I’d love to hear from you about the how and why a party that supposedly wants government small and responsive to the people is behaving like a central planning commisariat.

    If you could do this without blaming the City Councils of Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh, that’d be great. I’d just like an explanation of why anyone – regardless of their politics – would believe that voting Republican would give them any voice at all in government.

  10. Gordon Smith says:

    Saw today that Senator Apodaca was touting the settling of old scores as a primary reason for seizing the water system. Vendetta politics. It’s a lousy way to run a government.

  11. Davyne Dial says:

    “Vendetta politics. It’s a lousy way to run a government.”

    But it IS human nature.
    Do not misread, what I’m saying. I’m not saying this is right or proper, I am just saying this is human nature.

  12. shadmarsh says:

    There is no such thing as human nature, only human behaviour.

  13. Jeff Mclarty says:

    I believe that the philosophical underpinnings of our societies intended to make them more equitable to all, which are ordinarily expected to be reflected in our laws, is a construct built to make sure that reason and collective judgement keeps “human nature” from creating chaos and destroying the forward march of human progress.

    To then acknowledge that the current government is operating under human nature and not the higher aspirations our history and its heroes have bequeathed to us says quite a lot about how badly unsuited for leadership they are.

  14. Davyne Dial says:

    Jeff, I believe this tendency is precisely why the founders set up a system of checks and balances. When the system, (Government bodies, Boards Commissions, entities overseeing public private partnerships) purposely circumvents checks & balances and we don’t react appropriately against such self serving activities, that we get the Government we deserve for not standing up against the mediocrity.

  15. shadmarsh says:

    Yes, let’s blame the victim, that’s always helpful. It works well with the whole “well, they did it first!” argument.

  16. Davyne Dial says:

    And the mendacity.

  17. mcates says:


    “I’d love to hear from you about the how and why a party that supposedly wants government small and responsive to the people is behaving like a central planning commisariat.”

    Too often people conflate a desire for limited government with a desire for no or even small government. They want to paint the issue as being black and white, but that’s just a political game some like to play. In the real world our country was setup as a Constitutional Republic, limiting the powers of the federal government and reserving rights for the States. I don’t know any Republicans that want to undo our Constitutional Republic.

    From the Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Massachusetts has the prerogative to create a state run health care program. California has the right to implement standards different than other states. The list goes on. However, I think the federal government overreaches it’s authority on many issues that should be determined by the State.

    As I said before, many like to make issues black & white, while most often that is not the case. It would help to have a specific example from you. If you are referring to the water system, then I would suggest that having MSD in control would still be considered “close” to the people. It clearly takes control from the local people in “Asheville” and moves some control to local people in our “region”, but still it’s all local.

    If we want to frame the issue of “small and local” as being black & white, then Republicans should want to split the Asheville water system into pieces for each part of town or maybe neighborhoods? But they don’t because it’s not black & white and common sense comes into play. It’s going to a regional system like so many have recommended for so long.

    Now before someone starts mentioning… but Woodfin and etc… those systems may very well move into a regional system.

  18. mcates says:

    On a side note, I’m sure you will all be happy to know that lobbying bill is getting nixed about as quickly as the religion bill.

    However, it turns out that current legislation requires reporting of very mundane things like getting a glass of water in a restaurant or some such craziness.

    Learning more about the process and not jumping the gun with conclusions is important. For example, Sen. Nesbitt submitted a “blank” bill. This was smart of him because it can’t be criticized until he has plenty of time to write in whatever he wants.

    Maybe all legislators should do that instead of rushing to finish bills in order to get them a place in line?

  19. Careful, Shad. You might get the penalty box for being ‘uncivil’… oh… right.

  20. Andrew Dahm says:

    Near as I can tell, property rights derive from paying rates, unelected boards that derive their authority from the least number of ratepayers possible are preferable, and redistricting local elections as a form of affirmative action are Republican planks. Do I have that right, Comrade Cates?

  21. N.C.Rohan says:

    RE: Moffitt instigated Charlotte Airport Seizure Bill: Charlotte City Council member Michael Barnes said time is not on the city’s side – the authority bill is gaining momentum, and could be law within weeks.

    “It’s rolling downhill, and the turd is getting bigger and bigger, collecting grass and dirt,” Barnes said of the bill.

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/23/3997889/in-heated-meeting-city-council.html#storylink=cpy

  22. mcates says:


    I understand that Shad is contributing as best he can, but I have responded to you with nothing but respect and sincerity. If you can’t do the same, I see no reason to continue.

  23. andrewdahm says:

    You’ve been very polite, Mr Cates.

    I do think there’s a lot more cognitive dissonance in your party than mine. It’s pretty hard to square the steamroller in Raleigh with conservative notions of responsive, accountable government. It’s hard to reconcile your party’s interest in administering compulsory ultrasounds to pregnant women with its obsessive rejection of any licensing or regulation of guns. And it makes me cringe when Republican officials talk about the futility of making laws, because people who break the law won’t obey them.

    Regardless of how I – or anybody else – holds their mouth, regardless of how snarky and impolite folks can be, the fact of the matter is that your party makes absolutely no sense. It is not willing to obey the will of the people through bargaining and compromise to arrive at policy and legislation that at least recognizes conservative values.

    It could be that folks are mean to Republicans because their arguments don’t hold water, and aren’t applied consistently to policy questions.

  24. Senate Finance Committee has passed H488.

    Nathan Ramsey and Tom Apodaca were given free reign to lob criticism at Asheville, but Sen. Nesbitt and Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson were hurried along & eventually Jackson was cut off as he tried to explain how the MSD study shows there will be nothing but a sea of red ink from a forced merger.

    No evidence from the audio whether Sen. Apodaca threatened him with a stick. Wish they had a video stream…

    On to the Senate floor – no date set as of yet.

  25. Whoop – correction. H488 is scheduled for noon tomorrow on the Senate calendar.

  26. shadmarsh says:

    I understand that Shad is contributing as best he can

    I’m putting in the requisite amount of effort.