I have this recurring thought that Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012 and will carry North Carolina (maybe by one vote; but, a win is a win). I think that the Tea Party and Republican right wing has behaved so badly this past year and have so angered the mainstream that the voters will reject them in many places throughout the land. I realize that a lot of people disagree. There was an election yesterday in North Carolina and the outcome is an example of “we’ve had enough of this right-wing craziness.”
The voters in Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina went to the polls yesterday to vote for a mayor, some city council members and some school board members. The school system, the nation’s 17th largest with some 146,000+ students, has been embroiled in controversy for the past two years about its busing practices. In 2009 a slate of Tea Party candidates were elected on a promise to end the system’s widely respected socioeconomic-based school assignment plan. They gained a 5-4 voting majority and soon began to dismantle a successful system in favor of their so-called “neighborhood schools plan.” The level of outrageous and incendiary in-your-face behaviors from this new majority resulted in lawsuits, NAACP protests, fiery school board meetings, and just some really poor behavior from these “reformers.”
The highly regarded superintendent, Dr. Del Burns, resigned in protest over the board’s behaviors. They hired a retired Army general (Anthony Tata) to replace him. He had worked for a year as the guy in charge of school bus transportation, facilities, and child nutrition in the DC public schools under Michelle Rhee. Tata (tay-tuh) actually seems like a very bright and articulate and capable guy and he managed to get the Tea Party board members to tone down the rhetoric somewhat in the past six months. The key word is “somewhat.”
All four of the seats up for election yesterday went to Democrats who support the previously successful socioeconomic-based school assignment plan. The election resulted in the ousting of the current board chairman and chief ringleader of the Tea Party troglodytes. This is huge. One of the four district contests will probably result in a runoff election as the Democrat received 49.7% of the vote (50% needed to win outright) and his Tea Party challenger received 39.8% of the vote. I shudder to think of the money and resources that will pour into Raleigh for the runoff election.
And the connection to Obama and 2012? Voters turned out to repudiate the Tea Partiers and their return to segregated schools. The voters in Wake County have made it clear that they want civility at some level from their elected officials and that they value diversity for their children. This is huge. I think that the same will happen in 2012 in North Carolina and nationwide. The voters will repudiate the self-serving and mean-spiritedness of the right wing. This local school board election is heartening and provides some hope that we can still move this ship in an inclusive direction despite the political insanity of the past two years. If you are interested in the specifics of this election just click here.