North Carolina’s Genuine Conservatives

I’m always hesitant to post observations requiring the use of terms like “liberal” “conservative” “progressive” or especially “socialist” and “fascist,” because over the past years, any conceptual clarity those labels may once have had has disappeared. These days they tend to be used as epithets, not efforts to communicate.

For example, I used to consider myself a conservative. I wanted to conserve the values of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I was (and remain) convinced that fiscal prudence means that–absent emergencies–programs should be paid for with current tax dollars remitted equitably by rich and poor, and not “borrow and spend.” I believe in limited government–and I believe that “limited government” means government limited to the performance of genuinely governmental tasks, like national defense or paving streets, and not the exercise of authority over my uterus or my soul.

Thanks to the GOP’s extreme move rightward, those are now generally considered to be liberal or progressive positions.

The dramatic change in the Republican Party, culminating in its current defense of a monumentally unfit, corrupt President, has created a deep disconnect between old-timers and the current cult. That disconnect recently prompted three North Carolina County Commissionerrs to leave the GOP, while laying claim to the term “conservative.”

To be conservative is to honor and preserve the fundamental institutions, processes, structures and rule of law, ….

To be conservative is to be financially prudent while also investing in common ground works that support individual success for all citizens. To be conservative is to be welcoming and inclusive, ….

To be conservative is to have a strong moral compass and the willingness to challenge wrong regardless of its source.

We believe all of these are not merely conservative principles but American principles.

They continue…

Next, we believe elected officials have a special duty to conduct themselves beyond reproach and make genuine efforts to represent all their constituents.

Elected officials must strive to conduct all public and private actions with honor and integrity.

Elected officials must value objective truth and, in turn, be truthful in their own statements and interactions.

And elected officials must continually work to hear the voices of all while making hard decisions on behalf of their fellow citizens

“Finally, and importantly, we believe local government should not be partisan in nature.

Good ideas come from across the spectrum of political thought.

Our focus is local, our objective is problem-solving for Transylvania County and our experience is thatpartisanship is an obstacle to effective local governance.

Governing is done best when done closest, and close governing is done best when removed from partisan encumbrances.”

These local officials–all of whom have lengthy histories in Republican politics– have put their emphasis on governing, not politicking. It’s an emphasis that has been absent from the national GOP for some time–a recognition that political activity is supposed to be directed toward winning an opportunity to serve.

When asked whether their dissatisfaction was local or national, one of the Commissioners responded

Leaders at every level should also operate with strict standards of honesty and integrity, both for themselves and others they work with. And leaders at every level should work to represent all citizens, regardless of the issue. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to suggest that Republican leadership at the highest levels are no longer consistently maintaining those principles.

Let’s hope these public servants–and I am happy to use that term–are harbingers of many defections from whatever it is the GOP has become. One thing for sure: today’s Republican Party isn’t conservative–at least, not as that term used to be understood.

It’s White Nationalist, and bent on dominance, not governance.


  1. Prof K Says of the “R” folks
    “It’s White Nationalist, and bent on dominance, not governance.”
    I also suspect that the Russians MAY be holding their feet to the fire with dirt on THEM.
    The ONLY thing that explains their crazy behavior to me is FEAR of the Russians releasing the dirt on THEM. (Not Trump) Lindsey Graham comes to mind at once. WHAT do they have on him that explains his insane behavior? Just a thought.

  2. I have cut back on watching the impeachment activities this week; House Democrats repeat over and over again the Constitutional crisis we are facing due to Trump and his closest supporters and the Republicans rant and blather rhetoric disconnected to every issue in the Articles of Impeachment. I am embarrassed FOR and ABOUT the sitting Republican officials in the House and the Senate and FEAR those currently in the White House. I will continue checking the status throughout the days leading up to the full House vote.

    The last Indiana local real Republican was Mayor Bill Hudnut; and at the federal level our last real Republican was Senator Richard Lugar who was ousted by the Republican party after 30+ years of service to this country.

    We are now deep into the holiday season of many religions which have celebrations throughout this month; their faith, their spirituality and uplifting messages are lost in the trash talking political rhetoric supporting a man of no faith, no conscience, no morals and no connection to the Constitution or the oath of office he took on January 20, 2017. Yet; we MUST maintain our vigil on his words and his actions because to lose sight of who and what he is doing endangers this nation. Donald Trump is a genuine criminal of the highest order and only interested in conserving his increasing wealth through the presidency. And that action is covered in the Constitution regarding emoluments.

  3. What happened to the comments I posted a few minutes ago? They just disappeared, this is the 2nd time that has happened.

  4. It’s heartening to see some republicans still have a soul. It’s sad that far too few of them do.

  5. I’m not sure who said it first, but the saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes to mind. This is almost like a political version of “Purge,” take off the restraints and act on your deepest darkest desires. It’s almost as if they’ve been released oh, they’ve been given permission, they have been given the freedom to be who they really are or what they’ve always wanted to be. The Nazi party tapped into this very synergy, they realized that the human heart can be evil all of the time. We can analyze it all we want, but the fact of the matter is, there really is evil afoot! Hypocrisy is evil, so is sowing dissension, so is hating your neighbor and fellow man, so is demonizing immigrants, so is separating children from their parents, so is working against the common good of all citizens in the darkness, so is trampling on the weakest, so is denying the infirmed life-saving care, so is taking the bread out of the mouths of the elderly, so is allowing businesses and corporations / wealthy to not pay their fair share, and to allow yourselves to become cultists as was the Nazi party.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Sheila. It is nice for a change to read some good news about these very rare republican elected officials who believe they are responsible for making decisions that are in the best interests of ALL of the citizens that they govern.

    It is nice to know that there are some officials with strong enough backbones to publicly speak out against their fellow elected officials who prefer to serve only those with deep pockets.

  7. There are some bright lights, even on FOX News:

    A leading host on Fox News, a conservative network notorious for its loyalty to the White House, has lambasted Donald Trump for mounting the most direct attack on press freedom in American history.

    Chris Wallace, widely admired for breaking ranks from Fox colleagues by putting tough questions to administration officials, delivered his most stinging critique yet of the US president at an event celebrating the first amendment.

    “I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said to applause at the Newseum, a media museum in Washington, on Wednesday night.

    “He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try and de-legitimise us, and I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted.

    Wallace, son of distinguished journalist Mike Wallace, conducts some of the sharpest grillings of any of America’s long running Sunday politics shows. When he recently took House minority whip Steve Scalise to task, Trump responded with a tweet that called Wallace “nasty” and “obnoxious”.

    For the most part the followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence are in lock step behind them. There maybe some Elected Republicans who are uncomfortable with President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence – They do know the the key to be re-elected is to stay loyal to President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence – the base demands it.

  8. As Noam Chomsky frequently states, “The GOP’s shift to the right allowed the DNC to move rightward as well. Politicians like Bernie Sanders are called socialists when they are more like New Dealers.”

    I cringe when I hear Democrats called “centrists.” These are nothing more than former republicans.

    As we saw firsthand in 2016, thanks to Wikileaks and an insider at the DNC, the whole point of the Democratic Party is to stop progressive movements from non-corporate owned movements.

    If Russia indeed hacked the DNC, they did us a favor by pointing out our political reality. Hillary Clinton is still beating her anti-Bernie drums because the status quo must be upheld.

    As a country, we are now considered a “Flawed Democracy” by international standards, ranking 25th among all other countries. What does that say about our political system — including BOTH parties in our corrupted two-party system?

    Neither party represents democratic values in this country because we are an Oligarchy where the wealthiest Americans enjoy the fruits of our labor, and the working class has become insignificant behind Bankers, CEOs, and Shareholders.

    Which political party is fighting for the Working Class in the grand ole USA?

  9. As a NC resident, I am heartened. Our state was a leader of the “New South” in the ancient days of the 20th Century with DEM leaders like Terry Sanford and GOPers like Jim Hunt. Now, with Roy Cooper, we are turning the corner back, slowly. The battle over extreme gerrymandering continues…

    The GOP US House candidates that my project, CommonGoodGoverning, worked with in 2018 were cut along the lines as described by the NC folks. All lost in their primaries to Trumpians. But we predict more like them will be back in 2020 and we will be working hard for them. They wore GOP buttons because their districts were so gerrymandered that there was no DEM primary (and likely, if there had been one, the DEM party would not have accepted their classically “conservative” views.) The sadness of polarization.

  10. I do not pretend to ever having been a conservative, but I have always wanted a dollar’s worth for a dollar and am anti-deficit absent national emergencies such as war, depression etc. I know it’s old-fashioned, but if you want something, pay for it. I have little argument with what these county commissioners have written. Imagine! Conservative Republicans who tell it like it is these days! It’s enough to make one split his/her ticket, at least locally.

    Our fall from democratic grace became evident with Watergate and Nixon’s 1973 recognition of what was called health insurance to his home state’s Kaiser buddies; became worse with Reagan’s Iran-Contra crime, union busting and massive tax cuts for the rich and corporate class, and after eight years with war criminal Bush and his Great Recession has now reached its apex with a lying and demented leader whose AG tells us that those who wrote Article II of the Constitution intended the president to be a dictator, presumably so they could return to the good old days of King George III. Uh. . . My only comfort in setting forth this thumbnail/potential downfall of our democracy is that we have no further to fall what with a Big Brother in view with his noisy cult in place and what used to be the Republican Party sitting mute on the sidelines while our democratic values are trashed.

    Trump’s impeachment is likely but his conviction is not, so we will be in uncharted waters as we head into the fall 2020 election. What to do? Elect Democrats across the board in a massive turnout of American voters who, along with me, believe there is nothing more important than protecting and expanding our democracy. Of course, there is the increasing possibility that Trump will not be the Republican candidate for president if there is an outbreak of growth of
    spinal columns among Republican vertebrates, and if so, look for a Cruz, Marco, Romney or other such currently spineless Republican honcho to tell us of his virtues and that he didn’t like Trump all along etc. Won’t work, since silence is complicity, and I for one am not in the mood to accept apologies from Benedict Arnolds. Meanwhile, let’s continue to tell the truth without letup, support Big Brother’s impeachment, and VOTE.

  11. Even with brandishing a thousand-page list of patriotic virtues, which they now accept, these three county commissioners in North Carolina”–all of whom have lengthy histories in Republican politics” and “have put their emphasis on governing, not politicking” — cannot escape the taint of republican partisanship SO LONG AS THEY CONTINUE ADHERING TO THE NOTION OF TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS.

  12. I define my politics as Sheila’s definition of “conservative” with the addition of “forward leaning” as government is about adapting continuously to what’s coming not what’s been or is (though they frequently are the cause of what’s coming).

    “fiscal prudence means that–absent emergencies–programs should be paid for with current tax dollars remitted equitably by rich and poor, and not “borrow and spend.” I believe in limited government–and I believe that “limited government” means government limited to the performance of genuinely governmental tasks, like national defense or paving streets, and not the exercise of authority over my uterus or my soul.”

    My not having a uterus of course is another notable exception between us but I would expand her definition of conservative to maximize freedoms to the degree that they apply equally with none at the expense of the commons.

    Most people who call me out politically call me liberal.

    I think that means that the range of opinions among all Americans over the role of legitimate governance are not that diverse but what is is the world view diversity among us that influences our perspective for viewing government from.

    People who seem more like me judge effective governance on its effect on we the people whereas people less like me judge it as to its impact on them as individuals. It becomes inside out vs outside in and reflective of government plus culture.

    That seems bridge-able to me, perhaps though only among those who are able to have a legitimate discussion about it.

  13. Gerald speaks for many others when he says he is “anti-deficit absent national emergencies such as war, depression etc.” No social safety net, no giveaway programs, much less treasure spent on armament; I can almost agree to that.

    But it seems to me that some logic is missing.

    Since national emergencies, war, and depressions do not automatically include BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE, I presume that Gerald and others are against borrowing money to build infrastructure; no TVA, no Hoover Dam, no Eisenhower freeway systems, no NASA moon landing. No international airports, maybe one deep water port (NY), no Panama Canal, no rail system, no rural electricity…or are these things included in the other-similar-things meaning of “etc.”?

    I’m sensitive to this sort of reasoning because I have friends who believe that government should not EVER “invest” in any of the list of projects above. And when they say government should never borrow money except in the case of war or depression, they mean exactly that. I’m speaking of people who long ago borrowed the money to buy their home and every four years borrow the money to buy a car; they make their austerity proclamation and then nail down their assertion with the statement, “Government should have to manage its money the same way we have to manage our money.” Is that what I’m reading in these posts? Is that the bad logic that I sense is present?

    I’m hoping that “etc.” is meant to save typing a complete list of projects for which it is permissible for government to borrow money? Nevertheless, I would be much more comfortable with conservative austerity, if those who assert it would provide a complete list of permissible projects for which government might borrow money.

  14. etc. does include money for such infrastructure projects via bonding so as to spread out the liability before maturity. As a Keynesian, I have lots of ideas on what represents etc. Thus I think environmental costs fit the description, among other things. How to finance to stay within the bounds of pay as you go? Tax the rich, both income and wealth. They have been getting by with pecuniary murder for lo these many years while the rest of us pay our fair share while watching the long term (and now current deficit) balloon (along with the Dow and corporate bottom lines), and as to the environmental crisis, it is a true emergency. Yesterday near here (Fort Myers) had an all time high temperature of 88. If this is a Chinese hoax as we are told by our climatologist in chief Trump, it sure is a hot one. Final observation > With interest rates low this would be a good time to get into bonding for desperately needed infrastructure projects what with London bridges falling down and other such fairy tales brought to life.

  15. Thank you, Sheila. It is heartening to read some good news for a change. They sound like honorable public servants. While I would disagree with some of their political views, I think we would be able to have open and civil discussions. The idea that “liberals” labor under, that dialogue and facts will sway opinion might just work with those three, assuming their statements are a true reflection.

    While I have disagreements on spending and the role and size of government, I am happy to “vigorously discuss” the politics, as was the norm in my home while I was growing up. As Larry and Gerald have pointed out, there are arguments to be made for a more expansive role for government. First, while we believe in the “balance of power” for our three branches of government, economically, between business, labor and government, one-third of the balance is missing due to “small government” and “cult of the free market” thinking (allowing and/or helping the destruction of labor unions). Imagine a Supreme Court that could be overruled by a simple majority of congress. Not so pretty.

    Another example, The Internet was created here because is was a government project. It is universal. Europe tried the free-market approach and each country’s telecom claimed intellectual property rights – not universal. Similarly, imagine how much time and money could have been saved if the government had designed a single medical/insurance records system for Medicare/VA, or contracted it out as the DOJ did for word processing getting Word Perfect, arguably the greatest DOS program ever created, until Bill Gates illegally killed Word Perfect for Windows. I think Microsoft paid a small fine after admitting to it long after the fact.

    Finally, we don’t live in the agrarian world that Jefferson imagined. The world is big and interconnected in ways the our founders couldn’t imagine. Some projects are too big for states or even for business. Also, sometimes that “public good” and the “profit motive” are at odds, at which time either strong regulations (much hated) or direct government involvement is desired.

    I will admit that my antennae go up when I hear “small government” because some who use that term seem to yearn for the Articles of Confederation, and we know how well that worked — or do we. Still I can see “vigorously discussing” these issues with those three ex-commissioners.

    Todd – I recently read a critique of the English socialists by Orwell – not their policies, but their tactics. Remember – there is no working class in America, we are all MIDDLE class, or at least 85% or something like that – even some who look rich will say they are middle class. We shouldn’t ask why no one is helping the working class, we should ask why those who would don’t say they want to be certain that everyone in the lower middle class is included. 8)>

  16. Todd, I agree with you: “I cringe when I hear Democrats called “centrists.” These are nothing more than former republicans. ”

    I would agree with this the Three Centrists are: Biden, Bloomberg and Buttigieg. There is not a shred of Progressive thought or ideology in any of them.

    Interesting as we discuss the “differences” between Democrats and Republicans some reporting has surfaced on the War in Afghanistan.
    The Pentagon cannot be pleased with the Washington Post. That’s because the Post has just disclosed a mountain of previously secret documentary evidence within the military showing that the Pentagon has been intentionally lying for years about the “progress” that it was making with its forever war in Afghanistan. While the Pentagon has been publicly assuring the American people that its war has been going swimmingly well, the truth is that it’s been the exact opposite.

    Dougas Lute, a three-star army general who served in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying:

    We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing. What are we doing here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.

    Another interviewee, Col. Bob Crowley, stated,

    Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible. Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.

    Will any of the herd of Democratic Candidates for President address this issue of the endless wars??? President Agent Orange had to be secretly smuggled into and out of Afghanistan for photo-ops with the troops.

    Will there be any hearings on these documents?? I doubt it. The McMega-Media Cable Networks as expected are silent. Impeach, Impeach, Impeach is all you hear from FOX, CNN and MSDNC.

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