The Party Line

The Party Line: Raising the Curtain on Carolina Politics, is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development.  The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

The tragic event at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, has become a focal point for a wide variety of issues confronting not just Charleston and the Palmetto State, but more likely the entire nation.

As the funerals begin for the nine black victims, slain at the hands and gun of a white-supremacist terrorist, the echo of an all-too-familiar question abounds yet again: how and why could this have happened?

With the pending U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage expected, and the issue of whether North Carolina magistrate’s should be allowed a ‘religious objection’ to performing same-sex marriages, the culture wars over social issues are still being fought in earnest.

Yes, it’s a year and a half away from the November 2016 general election, but already the punditry and analysis has begun in terms of what could happen in the looming presidential contest.

With the presidential primary campaign heating up, the Republican field has become “anybody’s game.” It’s still fairly quiet on the Democratic side, with the possibility of a Clinton coronation still looming.

But the likelihood that the general election will be a similar cakewalk for Hillary Clinton isn’t borne out from the fact that most of the states, and thus the Electoral College votes, are already baked in for one side over the other.

With the first official “hat in the ring” by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the free-for-all race for the Republican presidential nomination is off and running, to be followed in early April by fellow conservative U.S. Senator Rand Paul - all leading to another crowded Republican primary field.

In many sports, there’s the notion of an unforced error. It's something that the player did that costs the player, or their team.

In the game of politics, politicians commit unforced errors as well. But when you’re talking about the ultimate prize of power, those unforced errors can be more damaging than a simple dropped shot.

Recently, there have been two major unforced errors committed by both sides of the political fence.  While the scores may be different for both sides, the damage done shows the lack of strategy and, at its core, thinking by both players.

As many presumptive presidential candidates are heavily engaged in the ‘invisible primary’ process right now, the key caucus activity of this phase of the race for the 2016 White House is fundraising.

And if 2014 is any indication, 2016 should break all fundraising records.

Now that we’re through the “chief executive’s wish list” phase of the legislative year, both for the nation and the North Carolina, the comparison between the two give us a hint as to how both President Barack Obama and Governor Pat McCrory are setting the agenda for the coming year.

Just two months ago, President Obama and the Democrats suffered a sixth-year shellacking, with Republicans picking up large numbers in both congressional chambers.

Imagine the surprise, then, on both sides of the political aisle when a freed president came into his penultimate State of the Union address and pronounced what may have been the most liberal statement of values of his presidency.

With the mid-term election year fought out between Democrats and Republicans, we can now turn our attention to a brand new year, along with a fresh round of new political fights. But this year, as prelude to the 2016 presidential election year, will probably focus more on intra-party battles as opposed to what we saw in 2014.