If She Didn’t Give Up on Democracy, Neither Should We
When it came to voting, Rosanell Eaton wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer

OPINION — If you don’t know Rosanell Eaton’s name, it’s time to learn exactly who she was and why her life and life’s work matters. She is the antidote to the cynicism infecting politics in 2018, a hero of democracy when democracy is under siege. She cared about her country and its highest principles, demanded her basic human and civil rights and brought others along with her.

Rosanell Eaton would not take “no” for an answer.

A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
Who knew the background checks for political work were so lax?

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.

After This Election, the NRA Is No Longer Calling All the Shots
The politics of guns may be changing — slowly

OPINION — The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s the mantra of the National Rifle Association, and a certainty for those who would brook no incursion into Second Amendment rights and definitely no gun control measures, no matter how small or “sensible,” as they are often described by those who propose them.

When children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and federal legislation that would strengthen background checks went nowhere, gun control advocates despaired. If the murder of children failed to crack the gun lobby, what would?

What Are We Thankful for? Decorum, Trump’s New Favorite Word
But don’t expect the president to model the decorum he expects in others

As a record-breaking number of travelers hit the road, the rails and the skies for Thanksgiving, it is probably with no small amount of dread. How will families keep the peace amid the inevitable clashes over politics and faith, at least until the turkey is eaten and the football games completed?  Never fear. It’s President Donald Trump to the rescue, brandishing his new favorite word: decorum.

As you might have heard, the administration of the man whose tweet replaced letters in a congressman’s name to spell an expletive (can’t you see him rushing to a Cabinet meeting to show off his “clever” handiwork, which would not pass muster for fifth-grade humor) has issued a list of rules for White House reporters in the press room. Play nice or you will have your credentials snatched. Usually, when I think of the president grabbing something from someone he doesn’t know, my thoughts drift to his infamous Access Hollywood tape before I forcefully fill my head with pleasant images — say, puppies or meadows.

Too Soon? Divining Democrats With the ‘It’ Factor for 2020
Democrats are gravitating toward ‘star’ personalities to eclipse the president, but his ego already blocks out the sun

OPINION — A die-hard Democrat said to me at the gym, “Somebody has to MAKE Michelle Obama run for president.” This was after Obama’s appearance in a television interview, in which she reminded the world what it’s been missing.

Sorry to let that educated, suburban woman in workout clothes down, but in the former first lady’s own words, she has no wish to be president. Besides, she has already done her time under the microscope, making history along with her husband. It’s someone else’s turn now.

Did the Politics of Division Work? Yes and No
Though America has always seen progress and pushback, this election threatened to push us back a century or two

OPINION — Donald Trump is a celebrity president, more interested in declaring a “great victory” after the 2018 midterms than in vowing to bring the country together. As he sparred with the media Wednesday and bragged about outdoing Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and famous folks who stumped for the other side, he did his best Rodney Dangerfield routine, playing the aggrieved president who has all the power but gets no respect.

When asked about the violent episodes that shook America in the weeks before Nov. 6 and whether he should soften his tone, he boasted about the economy, said he was “sad” to see the violence, and then talked about his great relationship with Israel.

The Devil on Trump’s Shoulder and in the Country’s Ear
What I learned from sitting through Trump’s midterm blitz: his better angels must be pretty discouraged

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a setup in many cartoons and films of days past: The protagonist is presented with a moral dilemma, and gets conflicting advice from a devil perched on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The behavior of Donald Trump in a presidency filled with choices reminds me of those scenes, though his angel must be downright depressed by now.

The latest appeal to the president’s “better angels” worked for a little while as he reacted to the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the apparently race-based fatal shootings of two black shoppers in Kentucky and a series of bombs sent to people on his enemies list.

One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated?
Voter suppression is becoming the civil war of our time

OPINION — I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference.

I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected.

If Protesting Is Wrong, America Doesn’t Want to Be Right
As Trump talks of ‘mobs’ and channels King George III, dissenters are doing what they’ve always done

OPINION — This week marks the 50th anniversary of that electrifying moment at the summer Olympics in Mexico City when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, accepting their gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash, each raised a black-gloved fist in a protest of racism and equality in the year of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”

They are now immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and by a sculpture at their alma mater San Jose State University — their bravery noted, their impact on society acknowledged.

In North Carolina, the Midterms Are Not Just About 2018
Democrats strive to regain voice lost during Obama era

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When President Donald Trump last visited the Carolinas, it was a relatively nonpartisan stop to offer sympathy and aide to those affected by Hurricane Florence. But now the big names heading South are placing politics front and center.

It’s a sign of the high stakes of November’s midterm elections, particularly in North Carolina, a state that mirrors the turbulent national political scene. At issue in the state and across the country is not only getting out the vote, but also who gets to vote, and how gerrymandering affects the fairness of the vote.

Kavanaugh Fight Goes Full On Knute Rockne
Mitch McConnell really knows his way around a sports metaphor

OPINION — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week lamented that Democrats would never be satisfied with a one-week FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying he expects “soon enough the goal posts will be on the move once again.” McConnell, going full Knute Rockne, also has said of the Kavanaugh nomination and investigation: “We’re going to be moving forward. I’m confident we’re going to win.”

Thankfully, the Kentucky senator did not channel another Republican, Ronald Reagan, with an exhortation that the win would be for “The Gipper.”

They’re Laughing. We’re Cringing. Trump’s Tweeting. Macron’s Leading
As world laughs at America’s expense, French President Emmanuel Macron is auditioning for the job of ‘leader of the free world’

OPINION — When President Donald Trump, at the United Nations this week, boasted that “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” it was familiar rhetoric to anyone who has paid even passing attention to his rallies before friendly crowds. But when the audience consisting of world leaders gathered in New York, the enthusiasm was absent.

Instead, laughter.

Brett Kavanaugh Isn’t Clarence Thomas, but It’s Still About Race
Black and brown kids don’t get their slates wiped clean

OPINION — Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, is nothing if not consistent.

His words about distinguished lawyer and professor Anita Hill in 1991 — when she testified in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee on which he sat — were clear. He said there was “no question” in his mind that she was “coached” by special interest groups. “Her story’s too contrived. It’s so slick it doesn’t compute.” Hatch mused she may have cribbed some of her testimony from the novel “The Exorcist” — the horror!

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America
Racially charged language is a trademark rather than a flaw to many

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

This Is Not Your Father’s Bible Belt. Can Dems Make It Theirs?
Republicans have long claimed a monopoly on religion, but that could be changing

OPINION — There’s a series of striking images in a televised ad for Dan McCready, who is seeking to represent North Carolina’s reliably conservative 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. It puts the candidate’s military record and faith front and center — not entirely surprising for someone vying for voters in a swath of the state that includes an affluent section of Charlotte, as well as parts of rural counties all the way to the Fayetteville area, with its strong military presence.

In the ad, McCready stands with his troops as an announcer states that after 9/11, he “was called to serve his country.” Then the scene shifts, and the narrative continues to describe the Marine Corps veteran as finding another calling when he was baptized “in the waters of the Euphrates River.”

Trump to the Rescue (Maybe) in North Carolina
Democrats see opportunities, but GOP won’t go down without a fight

OPINION — When Donald Trump travels to North Carolina this week, it won’t be for one of the campaign-style rallies that are his oxygen — especially needed now when the air is filled with praise for his nemesis John McCain, who is being lauded in death in terms the president can only dream about.

This Friday in Charlotte, host of the 2020 GOP convention and with the Trump National Golf Club not that far away in Mooresville, the president is scheduled to make a lunchtime appearance at a country club for an audience of those willing and able to pay at least $1,000 ($25,000 will get you admission to a “roundtable” and a photograph with Trump). It is a party with a purpose: to raise enough cash to keep two possibly vulnerable House seats in Republicans hands.

Whether Church or State, Powerful Men Are Letting Us Down
From priests to Duncan Hunter to Trump himself, leaders need to get back to earth with the rest of us

OPINION — It is not a good time for those who want to believe — in their faith or in their government. No one expects any institution to be perfect, particularly those that are large and complicated. But why do so many have to be perfectly corrupt, spurring cynicism in those once so willing to give the benefit of the doubt?

There is the church I was raised in, one whose good works and ministries I loved while acknowledging flaws and grudgingly accepting the stern teachings of nuns and priests, and obeying the commandments as best I could. Pope Francis, a pontiff I admire for his common touch and common sense offered a message of understanding after a Pennsylvania grand jury report recounted horrific sins and crimes — the abuse of 1,000 minors by 300 priests over 70 years — covered up by Catholic Church leaders.

When Spike Lee’s Art Is More Real Than a White House Reality Show
It’s a contrast that will reverberate all the way to, let’s say, November

OPINION — It was deliberate and fitting that “BlacKkKlansman” opened a year after the deadly march of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is not too much of a spoiler to say that director Spike Lee goes there in the telling of the improbable true story of an African-American police officer who, in the late 1970s, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado.

The film brings the lessons of the not-so-tall tale up to the present, to this 2018 moment. That includes an appearance from a youthful David Duke, who still appears whenever and wherever racial hate rises up.

Trump’s Culture War Is Entering Its Scorched-Earth Phase
Will weary voters resist his tactics in the midterms?

OPINION — President Donald Trump is crediting his raucous Ohio rally for propelling Troy Balderson over Democratic challenger Danny O’Connor in a U.S. congressional special election that is officially still too close to call. But what if his fiery rhetoric and the image of a sea of angry faces, attacks on the media and signs supporting the murky QAnon conspiracy actually derailed what should have been an easy Republican victory?

Republican candidates have signaled they will ride the Trump train, with their fearless leader promising to stoke the outrage all the way to the November midterms to persuade the base to show up. The Republican Party is Trump’s party now, so those wanting to win or keep office may not have a choice.

Is Jeff Sessions’ Religious Liberty Task Force More Politics Than Faith?
Evangelical Christians feel more persecuted than any other religious group, and the attorney general knows it

OPINION — In January 1959, in a Virginia courtroom, Mildred and Richard Loving pled guilty to “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth,” and accepted a cruel sentence that spared them jail time but separated them from their families.

The judge’s opinion — pronounced in the Lord’s name without a shred of irony — was based in his definition of faith: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. … The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”