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Hot Flash Study for Women - Raleigh NC   


Hot Flash Study for Women

Looking to take control of your hot flashes?

If so, consider a clinical research study at Wake Research. We’re enrolling volunteers in a research study testing the safety and effectiveness of an investigational drug for women with hot flashes.


To qualify, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 40 and 65
  • Experience hot flashes
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 18 to 38


Chronic Hand Eczema - Raleigh NC   



Consider a study for individuals suffering from chronic eczema on their hands.


COVID-19 Vaccines - Raleigh NC   


We have COVID-19 studies enrolling at Wake Research, looking at COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatment. Help move COVID-19 research forward by enrolling in a research study today.

Qualified participants must:

  • Be 18+ years of age
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19/Coronavirus
  • Have a COVID-19 diagnosis

Qualified participants will receive:

  • Study-related medication or test at no cost
  • Study-related medical exams at no cost
  • Compensation for time and travel


Bacterial Vaginosis - Raleigh NC   


BV is often confused for a yeast infection and affects 21 million US women.

Women’s health specialists in Raleigh are studying a new option for bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Learn about a local research study today for BV that may be able to help.

No cost to participate. Learn more!


Navigating the Search Part 1: Finding Support Staff   


Recorded Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mark Dobosz interviews John Lassiter with Carolina Legal Staffing LLC on the topic of finding qualified support staff for your law firm. Mr. Lassiter discusses how and when to start the process to find a new paralegal or assistant; what resources are available to gain an edge in a tight market; what steps are best to take a fresh look at an open position; and how to determine why a candidate would choose your firm.



John W. Lassiter, Carolina Legal Staffing LLC 

John Lassiter is the President and Founder of Carolina Legal Staffing. He began his career in Charlotte as an attorney and later senior HR executive with the Belk organization after serving as an Assistant Attorney General with the Department of Justice in Raleigh. 

Carolina Legal Staffing provides full service permanent and temporary placement of attorneys, paralegals, document review and legal support in every major market in the Carolinas. 

Listen to the podcast


CFPB’s Successor in Interest Rules Took Effect April 19, 2018   


Recorded Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Learn how the Successor In Interest ("SII") Rules may impact you and your practice.



Caren Enloe, Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP 

Caren Enloe is a partner with Smith Debnam in Raleigh, NC and leads the firm’s consumer financial services litigation and compliance group.  For over twenty five years, Enloe has been a risk manager, defending the consumer financial service industry in litigation involving alleged violations of state and federal consumer protection statutes and providing compliance services to the same sector regarding various federal and state consumer protection statutes. Enloe serves as the Member Attorneys Program State Chair for North Carolina, as a member of the Editorial Board for the Compliance Professionals Forum and as a vice chair for the American Bar Association’s Debt Collection and Bankruptcy Subcommittee. She is an active member of ACA International, National Creditors Bar Association, the American Bar Association’s Consumer Financial Services Committee and the North Carolina Creditor’s Bar Association. Enloe speaks regularly on current trends and issues involving consumer financial services.


Jeff Rogers, Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP  

Jeff Rogers concentrates his practice in the area of creditor representation, including collections, commercial litigation, real property litigation, foreclosure, collateral recovery, bankruptcy, and creditor defense. His clients include banks, credit unions, commercial lenders, finance companies, and businesses of all sizes. Jeff is a frequent lecturer at Continuing Legal Education seminars in the areas of Residential and Commercial Foreclosure, Bankruptcy, Collections, and Judgment Enforcement.

Jeff is a frequent lecturer at Continuing Legal Education seminars in the areas of Residential and Commercial Foreclosure, Bankruptcy, Collections, and Judgment Enforcement. He has lectured at seminars by various CLE providers, including Lorman Education Services and The National Business Institute. In addition, Jeff has made presentations to various community and civic clubs and has been a speaker at such events as The North Carolina Assistance Clerks of Court Conference.


Listen to the podcast


Seventh Circuit Joins Others on Debt Validation Requirements   


Recorded Monday, April 9, 2018


The Seventh Circuit recently joined the Fourth and Ninth Circuits in holding that a debt collection discharges its obligation as to debt validation by verifying that its letters accurately conveyed the information received from the creditor.

Hear why the decision is good news for the debt collection industry and confirms the narrow obligations provided by section 1692g(b). The court’s decision joins decisions from the Fourth and Ninth Circuit which held similarly.



Caren Enloe, Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP 

Caren Enloe is a partner with Smith Debnam in Raleigh, NC and leads the firm’s consumer financial services litigation and compliance group.  For over twenty five years, Enloe has been a risk manager, defending the consumer financial service industry in litigation involving alleged violations of state and federal consumer protection statutes and providing compliance services to the same sector regarding various federal and state consumer protection statutes. Enloe serves as the Member Attorneys Program State Chair for North Carolina, as a member of the Editorial Board for the Compliance Professionals Forum and as a vice chair for the American Bar Association’s Debt Collection and Bankruptcy Subcommittee. She is an active member of ACA International, National Creditors Bar Association, the American Bar Association’s Consumer Financial Services Committee and the North Carolina Creditor’s Bar Association. Enloe speaks regularly on current trends and issues involving consumer financial services. 

Listen to the podcast


How to Empower Girls Through STEM This Summer   


Blog by Tanner Nelson

Whether it’s in your classroom or at an after school or summer program, make it a goal to empower girls to get excited about STEM (or STEAM) this summer! Getting girls engaged with STEM-related concepts and activities is especially important because women remain underrepresented in STEM-related fields in the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women fill almost half of all jobs; however, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. Check out the following ideas to learn how you can empower girls through STEM this summer.

Incorporate STEM into your classroom and/or your school's summer learning programs.

Encourage the girls in your classroom and/or your school’s after school or summer learning program to engage with STEM-related games and activities. BrainBox® STEAM Games is a phenomenal resource for girls interested in having fun while engaging with STEM/STEAM. Additional STEM activities for girls include Small Group Garden Pack, K’NEX ® Computer Control Set, See-Through Composter, and Butterfly Garden Set. Having the opportunity to experience STEM-related concepts through games and activities is empowering because it shows girls that STEM is fun!

Encourage the parents of the girls in your classroom to incorporate the following tips into their summer fun.

Encourage conversation about STEM in common summer activities. 

Engage in conversation with the parents of the girls in your care about incorporating STEM in their daily summer routine. Some activities that encompass STEM concepts include (but are not limited to) the following: gardening, baking, stargazing, and exploring insects.

Promote STEM-related summer camps.

As an educator, you can inform your students’ parents that they can engage their girls in STEM summer camps while school is out. Check out the Engineering Education Service Center’s camp directory for a list of STEM-related camps in your area. Take advantage of the many STEM programs for girls this summer!

Have STEM-related toys and activities for her to play with at home.

Once school is out, the girls in your classroom will be spending quite a bit of time at home this summer. Remind the parents of your students how important it is to have STEM-related toys and activities around the house for their daughters’ engagement. Some STEM toys for girls we suggest include Roominate® Cotton Candy Carnival STEM Kit (145+ Pieces), Roominate® Emma's Townhouse STEM Kit (129 Pieces), and LEGO® Classic Creative Supplement Bright (10694).

Be her role model.

Parents have a large influence on how their children think and feel. Suggest to the parents of the girls in your classroom that simply letting their daughter know that she can do anything she wants to do and be anything she wants to be will empower her. Explain the importance of taking advantage of the opportunity to have a positive influence by not using language that suggests that their daughter is limited. Encourage parents to empower their daughters by leading by example.

Create an environment in your classroom and/or your school's summer learning program that promotes STEM play for both boys and girls.

Creating such an environment begins with talking with the girls in your care about how they are capable of becoming anything they wish. Additionally, it is a good idea to read STEM-related books and/or have STEM-related books as a part of your classroom library. Engaging girls by having them read about STEM will help get them excited about STEM concepts. Lastly, as an educator, you can encourage boys and girls in your class and/or summer or after school program to work together on STEM activities for kids. Promoting this collaboration will empower the girls in your care by showing them that they are capable and welcome to play and explore STEM concepts alongside the boys in class.


For additional information on STEM-based learning, see our Promoting STEM-Based Learning During the Summer Months blog post. You may also be interested in reading some of the STEM articles in our Insights and Inspirations section.


About the Author: Tanner Nelson is Kaplan Early Learning Company's summer marketing intern. She will be a senior this upcoming year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Tanner is majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations and minoring in both arts entrepreneurship and psychology. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing at the lake.


Reedy Creek Lake in Raleigh   


If you haven't checked out Reedy Creek lake in Umstead Park, now is the time! A bit of a big hike from the parking lot but the bass bite has been on fire on soft plastics. Check it out!


Meet Kora, Border Collie German Shepherd Mix Dog For Adoption in Apex North Carolina   


Looking for a German Shepherd Dog for adoption in Apex, North Carolina near Raleigh? Kora is a gorgeous 3 year old female with an amazing personality. Kora definitely has the best that both breeds have to offer. She is extremely smart, very loving and an amazing companion. Kora weighs 50 pounds. She is very healthy, and has been spayed and fully vaccinated. She is well behaved and good with children and other dogs. She would probably be OK with a dog-friendly cat as well. Her family love her but just had a baby and moved into a home with no yard. Kora just loves to play outdoors. She also need somebody with her when she's outside or inside. She just loves being a part of the family and doing things with you. It is too hard to give her the attention and activity that she needs when there is a new baby in the house and there's no yard. They'd love for her to be able to stay active and get lots of attention. Kora will be rehomed with supplies and veterinary records – a ready to love pet. Visit Kora’s adoption story page to learn all about this special Black German Shepherd Border Collie mix dog. She can’t wait to charm her way into your heart and home. There is a $100 adoption/rehoming fee. Supplies and veterinary records will be included. Questions about Kora? Contact our Apex Dog rehoming team today. Text “Kora” to (888) 833-2128 or email We look forward to hearing from you. All About Kora – Border Collie German Shepherd Mix Dog For Adoption in Apex North Carolina Name of Pet: Kora Location: Apex, North Carolina, 27523 Type of Pet: Dog Breed of Pet: German Shepherd Border Collie Mix Sex of Pet: Female Age of Pet: 3 Spayed/Neutered?: Yes Health Problems: No Behavior Issues: No She will give a big bark at first with people or dogs but doesn’t mean any harm. warms up very fast to licking and cuddles. Up To Date on Vaccinations: Yes Gets along with cats: Unknown Gets along with dogs: Yes Good with Children?: Yes House Broken or Litter Trained?: Yes Crate Trained?: Yes Accessories Included: collar leash and kennel Kora’s Personality super cuddle bug sweet loves walks loves being outdoors goofy Kora’s Favorite Toys, Foods, Activities? Loves her tuff toys Cute Kora Story: Too many to list she’s a huge sweetheart that loves to cuddle and loves the outdoors. Why is Kora Being Rehomed? Recently had a baby and moved from a house with a fenced yard to a townhouse with no yard. she loves being outdoors and needs someone with time to allow her to live her life to the fullest. Kora’s Perfect Adoptive Home Will Be: We are looking for a family with a fenced yard to allow her to have outside time to soak up the sun and run she loves being outside during the day and lounging on the couch at night.


Meet Sansa, Boxer Dog For Adoption in Fuquay-Varina NC   


Sansa is a 3 yr old Boxer Mix dog in Fuquay-Varina, NC -(just south of Raleigh). She is a 50 lb dog who thinks she is a 10 lb lap dog. Loves kids, loves to cuddle, loves to play - but gets terrible anxiety around other dogs, cats, or any animal. She was adopted years ago from a rescue, and something in her past likely will always make her upset around other animals. Though her family adores her, they know that she really needs a home where calm rules. A home where she has people around all the time and won't be left out in a yard or exposed to other animals, or noisy barking in the neighborhood. They love her enough to put Sansa's happiness ahead of their own love of her. She's part of the family, but it hurts them to see her go into a panic every time one of the 8 dogs on their street walks by or starts barking. She needs a home where "calm" rules the day and people have time to spend letting her know that she is loved. And they really want to find a home where the new family will keep in touch with the occasional photo or email of Sansa in her new home having fun. She will always be a big part of their family - just that she needed to find a better environment for her anxiety issues. Without other pets or animals around, Sansa is the perfect family dog! She loves playing with the kids, and is generally well behaved and patient as she has a lot of trust for the people in her family. She’s played dress-up and she’s been the co-pilot on long drives. She loves to cuddle like a 10 pound lap dog and will climb into bed or on the couch just to be close to you. The family loves her so much that they decided that Sansa really needs a home where she can avoid the stress and anxiety that she feels on our street. It seems that our street has a lot of dogs and activity and she just can’t seem to relax. It breaks their hearts, but they all know that Sansa deserves to be free of all that anxiety. She is a beautiful sweet Boxer mix dog with a big warm heart and a love of family that is just wonderful to see. Unfortunately she has never been able to handle being around other dogs without getting upset and even panicked. Sansa has an instinctive fear of any other animal – dog, cat, squirrel, possum, etc. This fear (which shows as aggression) is very hard on Sansa, and on us. It has become a greater concern as we now have 8 dogs on our street alone. We want to find her a home in the country where she is not surrounded by other dogs so that she can be happy and calm. She’d love to play in the yard or go for walks, just as long as she can have her space and be around people. As her owners writes: “Sansa means everything to me. As I stated, her happiness is connected to mine. I need to know she is having a great life and that she is happy. The fact that I am writing this breaks my heart. I rescued her from the shelter and I believe someone will help me rescue her again. She has a huge loving soul and deserves to be with a loving family that will love her back the same way. I absolutely 100% wish to keep up with Sansa and her life moving forward. It is very important to me and a crucial requirement.” Sansa is a Boxer Mix dog to adopt in Raleigh NC . While she loves her humans in a huge way, she just doesn’t like any other animal. It is stressful for her and for us; ultimately the wrong place for her to have the kind of life she deserves to have. We are on the lookout for a quiet country home where Sansa can love and be loved, unconditionally, forever. She has so much companionship to offer the right owners in the right situation. If you have room in your heart and home for our Sansa, please reach out to request a meet up today. We can’t wait to hear from you. There is a $75 adoption/rehoming fee. Supplies and veterinary records will be included. Questions about Sansa? Contact our Boxer Dog rehoming team today. Text “Sansa” to (888) 833-2128 or email We look forward to hearing from you. Sansa-Boxer-Mix-to-adopt-in-Raleigh-NCAll About Sansa – Boxer Dog For Adoption in Fuquay-Varina NC Name of Pet: Sansa Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC, 27526 Type of Pet: Dog Breed of Pet: Boxer Sex of Pet: Female Age of Pet: 3 Spayed/Neutered?: Yes Health Problems: No Behavior Issues: No Up To Date on Vaccinations: Yes Gets along with cats: No Gets along with dogs: No Good with Children?: Yes House Broken or Litter Trained?: Yes Crate Trained?: Yes Accessories Included: She will come with a leash, collar, blanket, toys and food.


Charlotte North Carolina Phantom 4 Drone Rentals   


Drone Rental in the Charlotte, NC area. DJ Phantom 4 can be rented and shipped to areas like: Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham and all of North Carolina . To learn more about rates and rental terms please call 866-441-5246 . Drone operators are available for hire.


DJI Phantom Pro Camera Drone Rental Charlotte NC   


Phantom Pro Camera Drone For Rent in Charlotte, North Carolina. Aerial Drone Cameras or Quadrocopter UVA's have amplified the way of capturing stunning images. The remote control is simple to use so filming aerial views happen in a snap. Equipped already with a camera you do have the option to hook up a GoPro Camera. Contact us today to request rental rates and availability. Rent A Drone in areas like Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham, NC.


Director of Development, Multifamily and Mixed-Use Development   


Ram Realty Advisors, LLC (Ram) is a registered investment advisor that invests on behalf of a series of private equity funds and partnerships with co-mingled funds from institutions, plan sponsors and high net worth individuals. Through these funds and partnerships Ram acquires, develops, manages and finances retail and multifamily properties in the Southeast. We pursue the acquisition, development, and redevelopment of commercial, multifamily and mixed-use real estate. Target markets include, but are not limited too; South Florida, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Nashville and Atlanta.  Our strategy includes ground-up development, adaptive re-use, and the acquisition and redevelopment of existing assets.  Since 1996 the company has deployed in excess of $2.5 billion in real estate transactions. Ram is seeking a Director of Development to...


Mill Hill Populism   



It’s a bright, mellow, short-sleeve April evening in the troubled pinelands of south central North Carolina. Except for the waspish drone of lawnmowers and the occasional whoosh of a car sliding along Highway 220, this town of 1,700 is almost eerily quiet–partly because, with gas costing what it does, people can’t afford to do much driving around. But it’s mostly because of the big yawning silence at the center of Biscoe, where the mill used to be.

“This was the old Springs plant,” says Larry Kissell, pointing up a street formerly known as Mill Hill to a sprawling, low-slung series of connected buildings showing no sign of life. “It had, in its heyday, seven, eight hundred people.” That’s almost half the town’s population. “People weren’t getting rich, but there were good jobs. Good benefits. And of course it’s gone. Just the heart and soul of Biscoe. This is one of those mills, they’d blow the whistle at 7 and 12 and 3–you always knew what time it was, based on the mill whistle.”

The Springs plant was an early casualty in the outsourcing plague that began to hit North Carolina after NAFTA and accelerated in this decade–and has socked the textile-heavy 8th Congressional District like a series of never-ending tornadoes. “Textiles were the sacrificial lamb” in NAFTA, says Kissell, a Democrat who’s running, for the second time, to become Congress’s first Gentleman from Biscoe. “I think everybody knew that was gonna happen.”

But nobody predicted just how rough it was going to get down here, or how fast. North Carolina, first in the South for its share of jobs in manufacturing, long benefited from a form of outsourcing. Decades ago Northern manufacturers shifted jobs to low-wage, Southern states with severe restrictions on organized labor. Now the “old economy” parts of all these states are reeling from the post-NAFTA version of outsourcing. Since 1993 North Carolina has bled more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs, according to state government estimates–one-fourth of its total. The pace of closures isn’t slacking, either. Last year 10 percent of the state’s textile jobs were lost, with at least 10,000 more manufacturing workers out of luck. In Biscoe after Biscoe, unemployment keeps climbing. Even in relatively prosperous Cumberland County, with its two expanding military bases, Wal-Mart is the number-one private employer. “Good jobs are coming to North Carolina,” says Kissell. “They’re just not coming here.”

It’s a gnawingly familiar story in too many communities up North. Down here, people are still in shock. And nobody speaks for them more truly than Kissell. As the Democratic presidential campaign heads toward a showdown in North Carolina on May 6, the candidates–who’ve been beating the populist drums vigorously but not always convincingly–would do well to take a listen. And maybe take a stroll down Mill Hill.

Now a high school social studies teacher, Larry Kissell previously worked twenty-seven years in an even larger (and now closed) textile plant in neighboring Star. Kissell hinged his dark-horse campaign in 2006 on his intimate understanding not only of how people have been kicked in the pocketbook but in the gut as well. “We didn’t have time to transition,” he says, ambling down Mill Hill for an hour’s worth of door-to-door campaigning. “It was gone. It was gone. And so much of the structure of the town just left us.”

Kissell was one of the luckier ones: a Wake Forest University graduate who was able to land a job at East Montgomery High when the end was nigh for his plant. But when he decided to challenge four-term incumbent Robin Hayes in 2006, Kissell’s only previous elected offices had been president of the Biscoe Lions Club and deacon of the First Baptist Church of Biscoe. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) bet its North Carolina money on Heath Shuler, the religious right-winger and former star quarterback who unseated an ethics-plagued mountain Republican in the 11th District. But Hayes, the eighth-richest person in Congress thanks to a textile fortune, was clearly vulnerable. A genial back-bencher in Washington, he had infuriated many in the district by casting a deciding vote, in a midnight change of heart, for the Central America Free Trade Agreement–after having declared he was “flat-out, completely, horizontally opposed to CAFTA.” Now he was facing a guy whose job had landed in Mexico and whose campaign war cry was “NAFTA plus CAFTA equals SHAFTA.”

With help from an army of volunteers, young and senior, Kissell peddled his message relentlessly from door to door, helped in part by the state party’s grassroots organizers, funded as part of the DNC’s fifty-state strategy. His real-guy politics lit a fire under disaffected folks like Rhonda Quador of Fayetteville, whose husband had done two tours in Iraq by the time she met Kissell early in the campaign. “He listened to me,” she says. “That was my biggest selling point.” Quador’s father had lost his textile job too, in 1985. “You’re asking a man who spent his entire adult life in one plant–you’re taking away his identity,” she says. Quador, a lapsed Republican, spent about twenty hours a week phone-banking and knocking on doors last time out; on election eve, she says, “I stood in the pouring rain, eight and a half months pregnant, for eight hours for this man.” It wasn’t because they saw eye to eye on everything. “I’m a Southern Baptist, very conservative in my religious beliefs. But the Bible says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don’t treat people this way. You don’t treat our military as expendable. You don’t treat working people like they’re outdated.”

Kissell called for a phased, one-year withdrawal from Iraq and laid out ambitious plans for recruiting heavy manufacturing and new industry to rural areas and creating thousands of “green-collar jobs.” But the thrust of his campaign was old-time, shoe-leather populism, delivered in a variety of low-cost, high-media ways that earned shout-outs from both Lou Dobbs and DailyKos. “When you’re running against an incumbent who can outspend you like that, you have to be creative,” Kissell says. The campaign’s most successful stunt involved Kissell pumping gas for $1.22 a gallon–the price when Hayes was first sent to Washington. Kissell gestures down Mill Hill, past the small houses and neat yards where white, black and Hispanic families eke out their lives. “We had two lanes of cars going all the way down the hill, and back behind the mill, as far as you could see,” he says, still amazed.

All the populist energy and empathy in the world couldn’t quite make up for Kissell’s dearth of funds. He fell short by just 329 votes–and announced, as he conceded, that he was running again. This time, with the economic tornadoes still striking his district and its 30 percent black population registering to vote in record numbers–a major emphasis of Barack Obama’s North Carolina campaign–the DCCC is making the 8th District a target. The money will buy Kissell some much-needed big media, but it won’t change the way he walks the populist talk.

“How can you know what’s going on without knocking on these doors?” Kissell says, tromping through another soft green lawn, beaming at an elderly black couple kicking back on their front porch. “How can you know what these people are going through without talking to them?”

There’s been no shortage of populist oratory during the Democratic primaries, and senators Clinton and Obama have pumped it up several notches in recent weeks. If she’s not rarin’ to go hunting, Clinton is telling the folk, as she did recently in industrial Winston-Salem, “I want to have an emphasis on manufacturing again. I believe you can’t have a strong economy if you don’t make anything anymore.” And if Obama’s not making an ill-advised attempt to bowl–or offering an even more ill-advised diagnosis of the white working class’s emotional state–he’s shaking a fist at Washington and trying to make it clear that he doesn’t just feel people’s pain, he gets it. Even in his infamous San Francisco soliloquy, Obama had–before his “bitter” comment–been waxing forth in a populist vein about small towns where “jobs have been gone now for twenty-five years and nothing’s replaced them.”

Clinton, who’s long trailed her opponent by double digits in North Carolina polls, has pinned her campaign here on rural areas and small manufacturing cities. “I know that North Carolina has lost a lot of jobs,” she acknowledged in a recent talk at Wake Technical Community College. Clinton has proposed an especially ambitious and expensive job-retraining program. She’s dutifully wagged a populist finger at “incentives in our tax code for companies to ship jobs overseas, no-bid contracts for companies like Halliburton, tax cuts for billionaires, free rides for predatory lenders,” and other fat targets like Wall Street. But, much like Obama, she walks a tricky populist tightrope in North Carolina–as the dominant Democrats do statewide.

A Democrat can’t win here without appealing to financial, tech and university workers–many of them nonnative and registered independent–who crowd the fresh, tidy developments around Raleigh and Charlotte. These folks, as Ruy Teixeira has written, tend to be tax-sensitive and concerned about government waste, but not ideologically antigovernment. They’re churchgoers but socially moderate, more worried about good schools than moral values. And while “they are not anti-business…they do hold populist attitudes toward corporate abuse and people who game the system.” There are plenty of commonalities with what working-class voters in Democrat-heavy districts like the 8th are looking for. To make that dual appeal, successful Democrats, like two-term Governor Mike Easley, have typically been “modernizers” more than “progressives” in a national sense. They pound the drums, with sometimes numbing repetition, for their mantra of better schools, better government and better jobs, and keep elections focused on economic rather than cultural issues. It’s not beyond either Clinton or Obama to follow suit in November.

But what a Tar Heel-bred candidate understands, and the presidential contenders only dimly comprehend, is how broad the fissure between North Carolina’s economic winners and losers has become. Clinton tends to decry the fate of free trade’s victims one moment, and the next moment cheer on the new economy as though it’s another item on her list of “solutions.” The result can be an unrealistic emphasis on silver linings. “You know, North Carolina is a leader in innovation,” Clinton told the folks at Wake Tech. “You’ve ranked third in biotech investment. And I’ve heard about what’s happening in Kannapolis, where a new research park is opening on the site of a once-shuttered textile factory,” called Pillowtex.

The Pillowtex story might sound like a happy example of globalization’s magic payoff, but it’s also a symbol of the widening economic divide in what people have taken to calling “the two North Carolinas.” Pillowtex was originally Cannon Mills, one of the world’s largest makers of products like sheets and towels (and a main source of Congressman Hayes’s wealth). When the company filed for Chapter 11 in 2003, some 4,800 people lost their jobs. It was the largest layoff in state history, one that nobody, including the state agencies, was prepared for. Upward of half the displaced workers had no high school diplomas–products of a culture where, as Kissell says, “people left school at 16 or 17, knowing they could work in the mill and have a good life.” They could not slide on over to Charlotte and get a solid job in banking, or up to Research Triangle Park for tech jobs. Plus, the homes their hard work had bought wouldn’t sell for much more than a kitchen costs in one of those Yankee-infested developments around Raleigh or Charlotte. “They talk about retraining–but retraining for what?” asks Kissell. “That’s what people want to know. They’re stuck.”

The laid-off Pillowtex workers’ lives quickly became shaky. The company filed for bankruptcy at the end of July. By the first week of August, 43 percent said they were already behind in rent or mortgage payments. Ninety-three percent said they could no longer get health insurance. By the following March, just 500 were working again.

And the good news that Clinton was now pointing to? The facility was bought by a single investor–the man who once owned the mill and sold it to Pillowtex, no less–who’s converting it into a biotech research center expected to yield only up to 300 good jobs. But they won’t be going to many of the locals who lost theirs. “A fair number of those jobs,” says NC State University economist Michael Walden, “will be high-level research and not accessible to these folks.” It’s a common situation in the South, he says, and one rarely acknowledged by politicians. “Trade has helped some, hurt others. We’ve not been willing to have a serious conversation about this. The divide will only continue to grow if we don’t find a way to take some of the savings for those who are benefiting to help that mill worker who, through no fault of his or her own, isn’t in a position to benefit.”

Back on Mill Hill, Larry Kissell is passing his card through the front door of a little prefab house, hollering over the yowl of a terrier at an apologetic young woman, “Nobody’s gonna sneak up on you! Listen! I’m running again! In November!”

“I’ve been thinking about how few new houses have been built here in this area in the last few years,” he says, trudging on. “It’s really a rare thing.” We approach the one new structure in evidence, where a former student of Kissell’s, pregnant with her second child, answers the bell. “Hey, Lisa! I’m running again,” he says, laughing. “Now, there’s a perfect example of what’s happened to our community,” he tells me. “Her mom and dad both had between them, I’m sure, fifty, maybe sixty years in our mill. Shut down: two people out of a job. What are you gonna do? Her mother found a job, had two kids in college. Finally I think the dad, Roger, found a job, but I’m not sure it had benefits. I mean, the impact–it was just night and day. They had three daughters and a son, and it was just, Pow! What you going to do? Not everybody was able to respond the way they did.”

After turning up nobody at the door of a ramshackle old white house, he comes back chuckling: “Guy had a sign up: ‘Gone crazy, back soon.'” It seems symbolic somehow.

“Now I’m going to tell you how a teacher thinks,” he tells me. “I just saw a pencil on that porch. I’ve got so many kids who come to class without pencils. It used to be you’d say, ‘Go to the library and buy one for a quarter.’ But now I can’t do that…. You can’t take what’s happening here out of what’s happening in our schools. We talk about improving education. Well, the best way we can do it is to improve the economy. You’ve got parents who are not able to be at home with their kids, to supervise their kids, to help their kids–and it’s not by choice.”

As if on cue, Kissell is interrupted by a teenage girl, Hispanic and probably 16, who comes bounding out the front door of the saddest-looking house on the street, a crumbling cinder-block structure with torn plastic flapping in the windows. “Mr. Kissell! Mr. Kissell!” she says, running toward him with a joyous smile. “Can I go back to school? I want to go back. I really miss it.”

“Come find me. If you want to come back,” he says, “we want you back.”

“This year?” she asks.

“I think it’s probably too late to come back this year, but next year. There’s probably some ways you can make up some classes without having to go through the whole thing.” “OK,” she says, and skips back into the house.

Kissell shakes his head. “I knew her by sight. I did not know her by name. But I’ll be in the guidance office on Monday and I’ll tell them,” he says. “Well. We’ll get her back.” And with a little extra giddyup in his stride, he marches up Mill Hill.




Surely this had to be some kind of mistake, or cruel hoax. It was the weekend before the second presidential debate, and the New York Times was reporting that Barack Obama had hunkered down in a battleground state to do his prep–while also holding a jubilant rally in local Republican territory and crashing the year’s most exclusive state Democratic fundraiser in a “surprise,” media-snatching visit. All of which made perfect sense. What defied credulity was the story’s dateline: Asheville, North Carolina.

My home state, where I spent decades suffering serial heartbreaks along with my fellow progressives, where Al Gore and John Kerry withdrew their campaigns by Labor Day, where George W. Bush won last time by twelve points–my home state was suddenly a toss-up. It had gone from red to pink to indefinite on the cable TV maps just since last spring. Best known to many as the place that gave us Jesse Helms, North Carolina now could–to the astonishment of almost every pundit inside and outside the state–shift its fifteen electoral votes and help seal the deal for the nation’s first African-American president. It was the most surprising thing this side of Indiana.

“When we started this campaign,” Obama crowed to 700 Democratic heavies and a bank of local-news cameras at the Vance-Aycock Dinner he’d “crashed,” “we said we were going to change the political map. And people said no, it can’t be done.” But “we kept coming down to North Carolina…. And despite the pundits, despite the prognosticators, despite the cynicism, thirty days out, we are right here in the hunt in North Carolina. We can win at the top [of the ballot] in North Carolina, and we can win at the bottom of the ballot in North Carolina.”

This was Obama’s third straight weekend in the state–eye-popping for a place that hasn’t gone Democratic for president since 1976, and has seen only one pair of nominee’s wingtips pounding its pavement since then–Bill Clinton’s in 1992, when he lost the state to George H.W. Bush by a hair. And if Obama was sounding triumphal in Asheville, it’s because winning North Carolina would be sweet not only for the obvious reason of helping him get past 270 electoral votes. It would also vindicate his campaign’s extension of Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean’s fifty-state project into the presidential election.

Like Dean before him, Obama was questioned for putting cash and people into states like Georgia and North Carolina, despite their increasing Democratic leanings and rapidly changing demographics. North Carolina, where 3.5 million voted in 2004, gained 1.5 million legal residents from 1996 to 2006–
plenty of newcomers to fundamentally alter the state’s voting patterns. But while he’s given up on full-scale efforts in Georgia, Obama’s North Carolina campaign, undergirded by 1,700 volunteers, forty offices and close to 400 paid staffers (McCain has thirty offices but only thirty paid staff), has outregistered Republicans five to one in the state this year and drawn even in the polls heading into the campaign’s last weeks. In the first week of early voting, in mid-October, almost three times as many Democrats as Republicans were casting ballots in a record turnout; while African-Americans are only 22 percent of the state’s population, almost 40 percent of early voters were black. Obama’s been running many more ads in the state than McCain–and gearing them, spot-on, to the economic troubles shared by working-class Carolinians, who’ve suffered some of the nation’s highest job losses, and overspending white-collar families around Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, which was recently rocked by the implosion of Wachovia, one of several banks headquartered in the city.

It does not hurt a bit that North Carolina Democrats, who have built a powerful grassroots machine under the leadership of innovative state chair Jerry Meek, have outhustled the Republicans. So has the Obama campaign. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and running mate Joe Biden have all stumped in the state’s swelling metropolitan areas–where they need to rack up a big margin, especially among the many younger independents from out of state working in banking, universities and tech–as well as in the military country of the coast and the largely white, conservative terrain of the mountains. Unlike McCain, Obama has fine-tuned his message for local ears, repeating, with the slightest hint of a twang, the themes that have consistently won Democrats most statewide offices–better jobs, better education, more responsible government. “I want y’all to listen to this,” he said in Asheville at his rally in blazing sunshine. “My opponent, Senator McCain–his campaign has announced they plan to, and I quote, ‘turn the page’ on the discussion about this economy and spend the final weeks of his campaign launching Swiftboat-style attacks on me.” The crowd hooted, just as they hooted at Obama’s invocation of McCain’s name.

“You’re trying to pay your bills every week and stay above water. You can’t ignore the economy!” Heads nodded all around, yes, yes. “You’re worrying about whether your job will be there a month from now. You can’t ignore the economy!” Whoo! “You’re worrying about whether you can pay your mortgage and stay in your house. You can’t turn the page and stop thinking about the economy!”

It’s the right message at the right time in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 46 to 32 percent. But was Obama–is he–the right candidate to preach this new populist gospel? A new North Carolina, one that would never have gone for Jesse Helms, is rapidly emerging. November 4 will test how far the evolution has come. It will also test how much of native, white North Carolina is ready to come along for the ride.

The opening lines of the University of North Carolina’s fight song go like this: “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die, I’m a Tar Heel dead.” These are hardly profound sentiments when you look at them on the page or yell them at basketball games, but they say some revealing things about the state where I lived my first thirty-six years–in other words, about the old North Carolina. We’ll get to the new one shortly.

The Tar Heels I grew up around in the ’70s and reported on in the ’90s carried the spirit of that song in their DNA: funny, proud and self-deprecating all at once. After all, there we were, cheering to the notion that when we die, well, that’s all she wrote. We’re dead Tar Heels. Yee-hah!

The state has always been one of the nation’s weirdest political places. While North Carolinians have long been prone to noting that someone once called us “a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit”–those being South Carolina and Virginia–we have also had a tendency to make bold and cranky choices, both liberal and conservative, when it comes to electing people. At the ballot box, we were never humble. We were closer to schizophrenic.

It is true, as Democratic consultant Mac McCorkle says, that North Carolina qualifies as “the most advanced outpost of liberalism in the South.” That’s been the case, in fact, since the nineteenth century, when the state led the country in funding higher education and other such socialistic things. A century ago, Governor Charles Brantley Aycock advocated free, universal public education for blacks and whites alike. A few decades earlier, North Carolinians had voted down secession, only to have their legislature capitulate. The state lost more men in the Civil War than any other, but also welcomed home an outsize share of Confederate deserters. Fool us once… While Democrats dominated here for the rotten hundred years after the war, as they did everywhere in Dixie, there was a difference: North Carolina had not only a strong traditionalist wing fighting for Democratic dominance but also a moderately progressive wing with some electoral oomph.

The seminal twentieth-century showdown between the traditionalists and the modernists (excellent terms for the state’s dueling ideologies, courtesy of Democratic legislator and historian Paul Luebke) came right at its midpoint: the 1950 primary battle for US Senate between former marine and aggressive liberal Frank Porter Graham and segregationist rabble-rouser Willis Smith. It was a doozy. Fliers were plastered around the state with the Klan-like warning White People, Wake Up and a doctored photo of Graham’s wife supposedly dancing with a Negro. Another flier was circulated, pretending to support Graham as the candidate of the “National Society for the Advancement of Colored People.”

The dark side won that one narrowly, in a runoff, but the Graham campaign spawned progressive Terry Sanford. In 1960, at the height of the South’s civil rights backlash, Sanford beat a staunch segregationist to become governor. (He also became the first major Southern politician to give JFK his blessing, and the Catholic candidate carried the state.) At his inaugural, two years before George Wallace’s famous “segregation forever” speech, Sanford declared segregation over, sending shock waves through the South and making headlines across the country. Twelve years later, we elected Jesse Helms to his first of five interminable terms. Go figure.

Helms wrecked our reputation. But while the rest of the country, understandably enough, began to characterize our politics with the misleading evidence offered by the bespectacled bigot, the state remained mostly Democratic through the reigns of Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes. Most of the Republicans who broke through statewide were from the politer, Chamber of Commerce wing of the party–folks who held their noses whenever Jesse and his true believers came around.

Helms-style Republicanism never flew in North Carolina–unless it was being delivered by the man himself, who had a strange connection with the antic, nonconformist, hell-raising side of us. Helms and his band of right-wing fundraisers repeatedly backed cloned candidates for Congress, Senate and governor, and they usually didn’t make it out of the GOP primaries. That’s partly because the millions of nonnative Republicans who moved to the state, swelling the party’s ranks in the 1980s and ’90s, tended to be social moderates who didn’t like being married to the religious right–and who have shown a tendency to be swing voters when the Republican candidate is too hard-core, or when they simply like the Democrat better. (This time, the Democrats are poised to pick up another Congressional seat, giving them an 8-to-5 edge in North Carolina, with former textile worker Larry Kissell leading five-term incumbent Robin Hayes [see Moser, “Mill Hill Populism,” May 12].)

According to longtime Republican consultant Paul Shumaker, who advised first-term Senator Richard Burr in his 2004 victory over former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles, Republican candidates in 1980s North Carolina could count on winning 85 percent of their party’s base from the get-go. “These days, candidates like Richard Burr start out their campaigns assured of only about 60 percent of their party’s vote,” he estimated in 2006. Considering that there are already a lot more Democrats than Republicans in the state, that lack of GOP loyalty could be deadly for many Novembers to come.

North Carolina is likely to become a presidential battleground for several cycles. That means more national Democratic money and presence–and, ironically, uncertainty for the dominant state Democrats. “In terms of presidential politics, we’ve been kind of on the fringe,” state chair Meek told me in the spring of 2007. Has that cost NC Democrats? I asked him. “There are mixed perspectives,” he said. “If the DNC thought North Carolina was important enough in play to spend significant resources here, then the RNC would probably have the same reaction. Is it a wash?… Clearly in terms of infrastructure, in terms of organization, in terms of resources, the NCDP is in much better shape than the North Carolina Republican Party. And we kind of like it that way.”

On the other hand, Meek said all those months ago, “I’m much more optimistic about the prospect for a Democratic nominee winning in North Carolina in 2008 than at any time in the recent past. There are a lot of changes going on. We’re one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and people who are moving into places like RTP [Research Triangle Park], to the Charlotte area, the Triad area [Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro] are increasingly willing to vote Democratic at the federal level. They tend to be fiscally conservative, but they don’t tend to have so many hang-ups about the cultural issues. That doesn’t seem to drive their vote in the way that it does for some of the more traditional Republicans in North Carolina.”

This year moderate Republicans and independents have one GOP candidate they can cheer wholeheartedly: former Charlotte mayor and gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, the sort of Republican who raised taxes in his city to pay for mass transit. McCrory is quick-witted, accent free, like so many new North Carolinians, and despite some unpopular stances (including on education, where he has talked about rolling back innovative Democratic programs), he has a good chance to knock off Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue, an awkward debater and spawn of the corrupt Democratic machine in Raleigh. That’s the bright spot for Republicans. Elsewhere it’s gloom, doom and desperation for the NC GOP.

By contrast, North Carolina progressives are giddy as hell and worried sick, both. What we remember, most vividly and horrifyingly, is 1990–the other seminal matchup of the last century. Ol’ Jesse was running for re-election for the four millionth time, all the while conducting surgical strikes against the National Endowment for the Arts, the judicial system and global democracy. His opponent was former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, a handsome, genial Democrat with personal integrity and the guts to say that he was “proud to be a liberal.” He was also the African-American who had famously integrated Clemson University in 1963–at a time when Helms was rabble-rousing nightly on the state’s widest-reaching TV station. The same year that Gantt matriculated at Clemson, Helms blustered into the camera, “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that has thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic and commerce and interfere with other men’s rights. Mob action invites mob action. Violence invites violence; lawlessness invites lawlessness.”

The symbolism of Helms versus Gantt was thick as grits. The question in 1990 stared North Carolinians in the face: are we finally, once and for all, better than that? For most of the year, it looked like we were. Gantt, running on an energized grassroots, led in the polls right up to election day. Celebrations were in the works. A few days before the voting, a Gantt organizer called me up and cracked, “Does anybody have a copy of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’?”

But while we were busy planning victory parties, aglow with the thought of Jesse losing to a civil rights hero, Helms unleashed his infamous “white hands” ad: a close-up of a pair of white male hands opening, reading and then crumpling a rejection letter. “You needed that job and you were the best qualified,” the narrator somberly intoned. “But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota. Is that really fair? Harvey Gantt says it is. Gantt supports Ted Kennedy’s racial quota law that makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications.” Just like forty years earlier, the dark side prevailed. Gantt had come close, but his slight advantage in the final polls had disappeared by the time North Carolinians went to vote. We weren’t there yet.

John McCain has done his darnedest to help Obama in North Carolina, running a campaign that has been alternately angry and absent. The news that the Democrat had drawn even in the state was apparently slow to register with them. Until a visit on October 13, the GOP nominee hadn’t set foot in the state since June, when he huddled privately with the Rev. Billy Graham. McCain had talked to Tar Heel voters before the May primary, when he told a crowd at Wake Forest University that he appreciated “the hospitality of the students and faculty of West Virginia.” Maybe that’s why it took him so long to show his face again.

Right after the second debate in October, the McCain camp roused itself and sent Sarah Palin to East Carolina University in Greenville, the red heart of Jesse Helms’s eastern North Carolina base. It was quite the Helmsian scene, starting with the invocation, when local pastor Walter Leake prayed: “We know the truth is out there, and the truth is that the other side is lying, unbelievably lying…. God, we ask you to close their mouths.”

Then out came Helms’s replacement senator, Elizabeth Dole, locked in the fight of her life (now uphill) against scrappy Democratic State Senator Kay Hagan, to carry on about how the outsider Democrats were ganging up on her. In her impossibly honeyed Hollywood drawl, Dole complained vociferously about a most terrible person called Senator Chuck Schumer, who had already poured some $5.5 million into ads attacking her for voting with Bush 92 percent of the time and coming in ninety-third in one Senate effectiveness ranking. (Two good ol’ boys argue whether she’s “92” or “93” in a devastating Democratic commercial, not so subtly playing on Dole’s record and her age, which is 72.) “He’s try-un to buy North Carolin-uh with his New York money, and we’re naht goin’ to let that happ-un,” she instructed the folk. (It has been reported, coincidentally, that Dole’s percentage of out-of-state contributors far exceeds Hagan’s.) Loud boos were aimed at this Schumer character. The crowd later roused itself into a gleeful, guttural chant: “Nobama! Nobama! Nobama!”

The main speaker was not about to lighten the tone. “Here in North Carolina,” said Sarah Palin, just getting warmed up, “you can help put us there in Washington, DC.” That was about as positive, or specific, as she got. But she did have something to say. It was in Greenville where she first asked the immortal question, whether Obama really “didn’t know that he had launched his political career in the living room of a terrorist?” The folks cheered themselves hoarse. And when the next set of polls came out, Obama had taken a slight lead in the state.

The GOP’s attack strategy, its only strategy in North Carolina, hasn’t–so far–paid dividends any more than Hillary Clinton’s fervid populist effort last spring, in the primary that ended her nomination hopes numerically and realistically with a 56-to-42 drubbing. At the height of the hoo-ha about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Clinton had been dispatched to some four dozen small-town arenas and community college auditoriums, talking to overwhelmingly white audiences and basically delivering the message: “You know, remember now, we’re all right, we’re one of you. Not like that other fellow.” But Obama rode the metropolitan areas, where the swing votes and new votes reside, to a victory bigger than the polls had suggested.

The night of his primary triumph in May, Obama was all swole with joy and uplift–and in full sales mode. After calling North Carolina “a swing state, a state where we will compete to win if I am the…ominee for president,” Obama raised the roof with his big preacherly finish: “In this country, justice can be won against the greatest odds. Hope can find its way back from the darkest corners…. We answer with one voice, ‘Yes we can.’ North Carolina and America…don’t ever forget that this campaign is about you. It’s about your hopes, it’s about your dreams, it’s about your struggles, it’s about your aspirations.”

There is something about North Carolina, both the old one and the new one, that has an ear for that kind of thing. And an ear, too, for the folksier and more focused (on economics) Obama of the general election. In early October he sounded just like a successful NC Democrat, speaking the language of sound, responsible, inarguable progress and duly noting the 24,000 manufacturing job losses in the state this year, part of an avalanche of layoffs with the collapse of textile, furniture and tobacco industries. And he snatched the high road–the one that always works best for North Carolina Democrats. “Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance,” he said, his body swaying more animatedly than usual. He looked loose here, at home. “They’d rather tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That’s what you do when you’re out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time!” Cheers.

“I’m going to keep on talking about issues that matter…. I’m going to talk about healthcare. I’m going to talk about education. I’m going to talk about energy. I’m going to keep on standing up for hard-working families who aren’t getting a fair shake in this economy.” Whoops all around. “We’re not going to let John McCain distract us. We’re not going to let him hoodwink ya, or bamboozle ya”–here, Obama could not help chuckling at himself. “We’re not going to let him run the okey-doke on ya. The American people are too smart for that, because they want to move this country forward.”

It was pretty good talk. And it had nothing to do with guns, or NASCAR, or “life,” or “faith,” or any of the sorts of cultural shtick national Democrats have trotted out so uncomfortably in the South and Midwest. Here was Obama, crisply dressed in his usual white shirt and tie, harking back to Tar Heel politicians like Aycock and Sanford and four-time governor Jim Hunt, who appealed to people’s common sense in order to advance progressivism. At the same time, he was also establishing himself as the torchbearer of a whole new brand of rational progressivism that appeals mightily to the new North Carolina.

But the Republican robocalls cranked up soon after Obama’s visit. More disturbingly, Helms-style “white hands” made a comeback, courtesy of an RNC mailer that infected mailboxes across North Carolina in mid-October. The main image is a close-up of a big, weathered Caucasian hand resting on a chest decorated with an American flag pin. “It used to be easy to recognize patriotism,” reads the main headline. The flier mostly criticizes Obama and Biden on taxes, but the racial implications are anything but subtle.

There is, surely, worse to come. Everybody in North Carolina knows that. What nobody will know, until November 4, is whether such tactics can still work their satanic charm in a state that’s at the vanguard of a new, and increasingly blue, South.


Should Democrats Do Dixie?   


Washington, DC

The economics-based argument for a Southern Democratic revival–which, given the loyal support of African-Americans, means a Democratic surge among white Southerners–has two prongs. “New South” theorists argue that the historical bifurcation between the region’s post-slavery agrarian economy and the industrial-technological economies of the rest of the country is fading, and thus newly affluent whites in Georgia will soon be voting like their Connecticut cohorts. The second, advanced in this magazine eloquently albeit anecdotally by Bob Moser, in his article “The Way Down South: A Populist Route to Democratic Revival” [Feb. 12], might be called the “old South” prong, which argues that white voters trapped in the stagnant portions of the Southern economy make ideal targets for the economic populist appeals Democrats now realize are crucial to their nascent majorities.

Before proceeding, consider the regional voting patterns of white Americans in recent presidential elections. For the past three decades, white voters of the Midwest and West have voted very similarly and, not surprisingly, down the middle between a less Democratic Northeast and a more Republican South. Continuing this trend, in 2004 George W. Bush captured 55 percent of the white vote in these twenty-five states, while his share in the Northeast was slightly lower, just 50 percent–a figure that essentially mirrored his performance among the entire electorate. Yet 70 percent of white Southerners voted Republican in 2004. That means their preferences deviated three times more from the Midwest-West benchmark than did those of white Northeasterners. (Remember this factoid the next time some television blowhard scoffs that the Northeast is “out of touch” with the rest of the country.) That’s the magnitude of the problem. So, how to solve it?

The “new South” answer is passive, relying as it does on an economic revolution that is under way but has yet to run its course. By contrast, with plenty of poor whites already in the region, Moser’s plan for conversion via economic populism is immediate. The problem, however, is that the transformation Moser envisions is easier to prescribe than effect. The reasons are manifold, but space permits me to handle just two: race and unionization.

Moser brushes quickly past race, a curious oversight given that most every study of political tolerance (racial or otherwise) reveals a strong, positive relationship between socioeconomic status and tolerance. As Steve Jarding and Dave “Mudcat” Saunders painstakingly chronicle in Foxes in the Henhouse, poverty in the rural white South is both appalling and appallingly resilient. Combine high poverty rates with their concomitant lower levels of racial tolerance, mix in residual tensions from the civil rights movement, and you understand why the poorest region of the country is the most Republican–despite the massive head start African-American voters provide Democrats.

In fact, analyses of the 2004 National Election Study reveal that neither attitudes on national defense nor abortion explained the Republican presidential preferences of white Southerners; negative racial attitudes did. How else to explain that in Mississippi, where poor whites and blacks live alongside each other, the former vote overwhelmingly Republican while the latter just the opposite? If economic populist appeals were unmediated by race, such glaring polarities simply could not exist.

Organized labor’s meager presence in the South also reduces the appeal of economic populism. For the past half-century, the Southern states have consistently ranked among the least unionized. The GOP’s chokehold on working-class white males is significantly weaker among retirees, union members and those living in union households. Because labor leaders organize voters around populist themes, their relative absence makes the “old South” economic appeal a much harder sell.

In 2006 nonunion-household voters split between the parties (49 percent each), but union households broke for the Democrats 64 percent to 34 percent. Connect this fact with low Southern unionization and, sure enough, in their party’s best midterm cycle in thirty-two years, Democrats carried every region but one–the South, which they lost by eight points, according to exit polls.

Notice that many competitive areas for Democrats in the South–central and south Florida; the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill tech triangle; Northern Virginia; campus towns from Athens to Austin–have in common a base of non-native Southerners who emigrated from other parts of the country or other countries. To borrow the title of Moser’s essay, “the way down South” for Democrats is to continue importing non-Southerners to the region because the white South, poor or affluent, is not quite ready to rise again in sufficient numbers to cheer Democrats’ populist appeals.

Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South


When Bob Moser wrote about how his friend in Alabama immediately grasped the inevitable John Kerry electoral disaster when Kerry won the Iowa caucuses in 2004, he said it all.

Why do the Dems persist in pushing forward elite candidates like Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry and now Hillary Clinton, who cannot win nationally? It’s really quite simple. The Iowa caucuses are not representative enough of rank-and-file national Democrats, and New Hampshire’s population is concentrated in the south of the state, in the Boston media market. New Hampshire Democrats are virtually all white. Plus, many are Massachusetts natives who moved north for jobs, retirement or cheaper housing.

So, the question is: Why should this understandable preference for native sons and daughters by New Hampshire Dems cast a shadow over the party that prevents it from embracing progressive/populist candidates from outside the Northeast who could win nationally?

These are the types of regional, class and racial/ethnic issues that Democrats and progressives need to discuss honestly. Until we scrap the losing caucus/primary system, the Dems will probably continue to pass over progressive candidates who can win nationally on the order of senators Jim Webb, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill in favor of losing presidential candidates like Hillary, Dukakis, Kerry, Ted Kennedy and perhaps Barack Obama (the jury’s still out on this one). These elite Dems are good people who represent their home states very well; but history is teaching us (if we will listen) that these decent and well-meaning Ivy Leaguers will never win the presidency and rebuild the Democratic Party as a national progressive force that will defend and advance the interests of working people.


Paris, Ky.

Finally someone has given Howard Dean credit for challenging the Clintonistas and their Republican Lite strategy. Populism is still alive and well in the South. Not all of us have joined the country club or bought a Hummer! Growing up in Alabama, studying law in Virginia and practicing in Atlanta have given me about sixty years of Southern thinking. I know there is one way the Democrats can throw out all the progress senators Webb, McCaskill and others have made. That, of course, is to nominate Hillary, who represents all the self-righteousness that will turn off the very voters who came over to the Democrats in 2006. Please give us more from Moser and how we can help Dean defeat the Begalas and Carvilles.


Nashville, Tenn.

Bob Moser’s article was a breath of fresh air. Way too many people who ought to know better are pontificating about the supposed truths made self-evident by the likes of Tom Schaller.

An acquaintance of mine sports a bumper sticker reading “What would MLK do?” King, a Southerner and arguably the most influential of modern-day ethical leaders, would certainly not argue in favor of leaving those in the most heavily African-American region in the country to fend for themselves while Republican Lite Democratic leaders and actual Republicans slice and dice their healthcare benefits and levy 10 percent sales taxes on their food. And yet somehow it escapes most Schaller acolytes that cutting off the South from the resources of the national Democratic Party carries with it some weighty spiritual concerns. What’s really ironic is that Schaller finished a book last summer about black legislators; one wonders how he regards the forces shaping their fates as morally neutral where political influence is concerned.

Winning a presidential election without one Southern state requires a strategy that leaves zero margin for error. (Armchair strategists can try crafting a winnable electoral margin at Omitting the South requires victory in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Hawaii, Maine and a handful of other states; all well and good in theory–but do right-thinking people really want to put the election of the leader of the free world in the hands of a few hundred thousand people in Hawaii? Such a strategy broadcasts vulnerability to Republicans, who exploited a similar situation when Al Gore requested recounts in only a handful of Florida counties. It’d be a simple matter for the RNC to channel its formidable resources into a small state or group of small states and crush Democrats’ dreams into jelly–this before voting-machine shenanigans and other ballot-suppression devices the GOP seems to have honed to an art form.

(Speaking of Florida, Schaller omits it in every argument for excising the South from the Dems’ battle plans. I’d speculate he hasn’t spent much time in the Panhandle, affectionately known to us in the region as Baja Alabama.)

Losing even one of those states would restore Republican rule for another eight years, and last I checked there was certainly no guarantee the Dems would win states like Ohio or Wisconsin consistently–especially since many states required to reach the magic number of 270 have heavily Republican state legislative bodies and/or Republican governors. Local electoral dynamics will influence statewide campaigns.

How refreshing to read in a national outlet what many Southern Democrats already know: Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee for a simple reason. He didn’t campaign here. The DNC, having abandoned the South some years ago, is losing the culture wars here, without a peep of protest. Democrats are portrayed, on 50,000 watts of talk-radio every minute, all day every day, as limp-wristed apologists personifying Rush Limbaugh’s caricature of the left. Had the party under Terry McAuliffe made even token gestures to counteract that image, I’d hazard you wouldn’t see so many Southern Democrats running to the right on social issues.

In 2008, most Senate elections will be held in the South and Midwest. Unless the Democrats step up their activity in those two regions, control of the Senate will pass to Republicans. Instead of blaming some inherent quality of Southerners for their own failure to compete, Democrats would do well to craft a strategy that at its basic level includes a willingness to show up–which, as the old quote attributed to everyone from Sun Tsu to Woody Allen expresses, is 90 percent of success.


San Francisco

It’s amusing, if somewhat depressing, to see The Nation repeatedly holding forth on potential Democratic strategies for rural America, or the West, or the South. Bob Moser offers the latest installment with a generally cogent analysis of how progressives might win in the South. The problem with his analysis and the others is that the Democrats aren’t a progressive party and really never were. The Democrats won last time because just enough people in just enough districts became just enough fed up to vote the rascals out; this time the rascals happened to be Republican. The Democratic victories, with the elevation of fundraiser-in-chief Nancy Pelosi to House Speaker, will do nothing to change the fundamental mealy-mouthedness of the Democratic Party. Witness the strategic appointment of the newest, more conservative Democrats to committees where they will be best able to rake in corporate campaign cash, and explain to me again how the Democrats can become a progressive party.

The South needs what the rest of the country needs: the ability to vote its conscience. The Democrats could use their (probably temporary) legislative majority to put forward proposals for instant-runoff voting, direct presidential elections or even proportional representation. Why should they? Because it’s the only way a party based on not being as bad as the other one has a prayer of winning. Progressive voters could choose whether to vote for Greens, progressive Independents or Democrats. We could have real debates in the South and elsewhere about how, say, to restructure agriculture so it doesn’t bankrupt the family farm.

For progressives to win anywhere, we need to put forth principled candidates with principled positions. But we shouldn’t tie our hands by thinking that this means joining or supporting a corporate party like the Democrats–at least not as a first choice.


Bark River, Mich.

Here’s the way it is up North.



New York City

I appreciate the many enthusiastic responses from readers and wish we had space to print every last kudos and quibble. And while we differ dramatically about how to get there, I appreciate the fact that Tom Schaller’s quarry is ultimately the same as mine: a genuinely progressive Democratic Party that is a powerful champion for working Americans.

I can’t argue with Schaller’s point that a large-scale transformation of white Southerners’ voting habits will be no easy or overnight task. But this is critically important work far too long neglected, not just by the national Democratic Party but also by liberal foundations and nonprofits. And it won’t take a sea change in political attitudes for Democrats to make short-term gains in states like Florida, Virginia, Arkansas or my native North Carolina (where I lived my first thirty-six years). I’m glad Schaller points out that white Southerners aren’t voting Republican because of their views on issues like abortion or national defense. But in isolating “negative racial attitudes” as the key to white Republicanism in states like Mississippi, he’s on shaky ground. It’s essential to remember that white folks in states like Mississippi haven’t been consistently challenged to overcome what lingers of their old racial biases and fears and vote for their own best economic interests. They’ve had little reason to believe that Democrats in Washington would make their lives substantially better than the conservatives they’ve been supporting.

It’s true that organized labor’s “meager presence” in the South makes economic populism a somewhat harder sell; there are simply fewer Southerners accustomed to viewing politics through the prism of pocketbook and workplace issues. But there is a tradition–pre-Southern Strategy–of white Southerners voting for economic liberalism. And economic conditions in the region–not just higher poverty levels but widespread losses of manufacturing jobs and a starker level of income inequality than anywhere in the country–make the region’s voters (white, black and Latino) a potentially receptive audience for a strong, unbending message of economic fairness. The idea that many white voters would shrink from such an alliance because of “residual tensions from the civil rights movement” strikes me, frankly, as absurd. The surprisingly passive acceptance of legal integration in the South, once it finally came, should long ago have laid to rest the notion that white Southerners are somehow uniquely and incurably racist–especially when violent resistance to “forced busing” was so much more widespread in the North. (And as our Michigan picture-letter shows, other forms of bigotry are not unknown in the North.)

Schaller’s idea that moving more Yankees down South would “heal” the region’s politics is both insulting and wrongheaded. Millions of newcomers have blessed the region with their presence these past thirty years, but they don’t tend to be liberal-minded Democrats, to say the least. Over the past decade, for instance, North Carolina has picked up about 1.5 million new voters, two-thirds of them either Republican or unaffiliated (while overall 45 percent of the state’s voters are still registered Democrats). Far from being a boon to Southern political “enlightenment,” non-native Southerners have, in many areas, presented a new and sizable obstacle to progressive populism in Dixie.

The plain fact is that there is no way to know whether a strong Democratic message of progressive populism could transform Southern politics. Folks like Schaller can argue into infinity that it wouldn’t, and folks like me can argue that it would–but it’s all purely theoretical until Democrats decide to give it a go. Now’s the time.



An editing error caused a quote in Michael T. Klare’s “Targeting Tehran” [March 5] to misidentify Iraq as Iran. The quote should have begun, “When we find devices in [Iraq]….”

In Amanda Spake’s “Dying for a Home” [Feb. 26] the spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association is Kevin Broom.


Choose Joy   


Things inevitably go wrong, but God always works it all out.

Every year, TWR Canada organizes ministry tours to various regions of Canada. Every spring we tour Alberta. We go to share the ministry, but I go personally (I could send others) because these tours are a great time of encouragement for me. Ask my wife. I always come back energized about the ministry.

The encouraging words, the friendships I’ve made across Canada, all make it special to me. Each time we do it we see God’s hand working out the details. Things inevitably go wrong, but God always works it all out. We always choose joy.

We featured Project Hannah on this tour and invited the Project Hannah Global Ministry Director/Founder Marli Spieker to be our guest speaker. This ministry is very close to my heart. Project Hannah reaches into the hearts of women (and men) around the world in 69 languages through the radio program Women of Hope, prayer groups in 129 countries, and 40,000 people uniting in prayer daily. Many of these people, in human terms, have no earthly hope, but they do have the hope found in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The TWR Canada Alberta ministry team. The man on the right is a long-time friend of TWR Canada who listened to broadcasts growing up in Egypt!

TWR Canada Project Hannah Coordinator Colleen Shoemaker with long-time ministry friend and Event Coordinator in Okotoks, Steve Regier.
The Trouble Started Early

I left home at 4AM for a 6AM flight to Winnipeg. The flight to Winnipeg goes well with no delays. Marli has a 5+ hour flight out of Raleigh, North Carolina. There is hail and heavy rain in North Carolina, and high winds and tornadoes near Chicago which caused flight delays. We didn’t have time for delays!

The first event of the tour was in Kenora, ON which is a ­­­2.5hr drive from Winnipeg. We need at least 8 hours from the time Marli leaves Raleigh until we get to Kenora, and that doesn’t include any transition time or traffic snarls, and the event begins at 6PM.

We begin making alternate plans in case Marli does not arrive, knowing people are driving 3 hours or more to attend this event just to see her. My sister-in-law Vicki agrees to drive to Winnipeg and pick up Marli so the Canadian team can leave the airport. We all can’t wait for Marli, we might end up with a church full of women and no event.

Marli’s flight arrives 1.5hrs late. She doesn’t stop to eat and she changes her clothes in the church bathroom, but 5 minutes later she is speaking. And this is just the first day of the 9-stop tour.

I always enjoy doing events in Kenora because it is like going home for me. My wife and I settled in Kenora after we lived in the arctic for 3 years before heading to the mission field on Bonaire.

I don’t get to bed until midnight and I am up at 6:30AM. One of my favourite places to run when I am preparing for a marathon is in Kenora. When the Lake of the Woods is still partially frozen, it is especially beautiful. It’s cool, but I don’t have to wear gloves and that’s always a good day. Choose joy.

I have breakfast with family and our team leaves shortly for a lunch meeting in Steinbach, MB. The Low German Project Hannah team there of five ladies are such an encouragement to me. They volunteer their time to produce these important programs in Low German that are aired in Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize, and Bolivia.

We have another event in Landmark, MB and then board a flight for Calgary early the next morning.

Being in Alberta has special significance for Marli. At 39 years old, Marli and her husband came to Alberta to learn English. Born in Brazil, Marli’s first language is Portuguese. For two years, they drove from Cochrane to the University of Calgary to learn English. In those two years, Marli made many special friends, and she had the opportunity to reconnect with many who played significant roles in her life so many years ago.
Project Hannah Supporters with Marli and Colleen

Long-time supporters of Marli

Why do I write this blog?

These events always remind me of a very important lesson. You have to choose your attitude – choose joy. Marli’s flight being delayed, a broken projector, among other problems, could have robbed our joy. Tours are tiring. We booked 6AM flights heading west and east. Instead, we chose to see how God had all the details taken care of and we were able to share in the privilege of being a part of the ministry of TWR Canada. To see our team, which includes all of you and those who attended the events, so excited to hear about how God is reaching into the hearts of men, women, boys and girls around the world makes it all worth while.
“Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you” Psalm 86:4.

Whatever we do in life, we need to do it for God. If we do that, we can find joy in every circumstance, even if the journey is tiring or the road long. There will be things that don’t go as we plan, but I encourage you to remember this: God is always in control.


Home in Raleigh struck by lightning, catches on fire during storm   


A home on 2746 Hidden Waters Circle in Raleigh was struck by lightning during Friday night's storms and caught on fire Saturday morning, officials said. A home on 2746 Hidden Waters Circle in Raleigh was struck by lightning during Friday night's storms and caught on fire Saturday morning, officials said.

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2020-08-15 10:18:24