Nearly all of the Republican losses in North Carolina and around the country in 2018 came in suburban areas.
Cities stayed blue. Rural areas stayed red. But the suburbs, usually sympathetic to the GOP, shifted in droves, turned off by the rhetoric from the president, demagoguery or business as usual.
Opponents have done an effective job of defining the Republican brand. The perception is that the party is more concerned with consolidating its own power than working for the betterment of the state. In the eyes of too many suburban and unaffiliated voters, Republicans are about opposing the Affordable Care Act and public schools and LGBTQ people and the environment — instead of pursuing a specific set of goals.
Campaigns have used fear and anger to drive out voters rather than energizing them with a vision.
North Carolina Republicans don’t have complete control over their own destiny here. The national party and the president of the United States have an outsized influence. But the state’s conservatives could do a better job making the affirmative case for themselves.
What follows is what I believe to be a conservative message that would resonate in suburban areas in North Carolina and other states that were hit by the blue wave. The message could be applied for most state-level and local races.
A conservative message for suburban North Carolina
The North Carolina Republican Party is the party of family and opportunity.
- We believe families are the building block of society and overwhelmingly make the best decisions for themselves when they are empowered to do so. Families know better what they need than bureaucracies.
- We believe that people find meaning and purpose through work, and the government plays a critical role in laying the groundwork to make that possible.
- We believe in limited government. Government is not the enemy, but it works best when it’s in the background — and as efficient as possible.
Those threads intertwine and are applied across the biggest issues in North Carolina.
Jobs and the economy
Our state is strongest when all of its citizens are qualified for and have access to meaningful, profitable work. Even when unemployment is low, we can’t lose focus on this.
- Businesses thrive on predictability. We work to simplify and rationalize the ground rules for doing business in our state.
- We view businesses as partners in improving the state. We look for collaboration with the private sector when possible and charge tax rates that are competitive in the region.
- We work to unlock our state’s entrepreneurial potential by making it easier to start businesses and only imposing regulations and licenses where needed for public safety.
- We invest in infrastructure that helps people get to work and products get to market.
- We are open to Silicon Valley startups that want to use North Carolina as a test market, allowing American ingenuity to make life better for our citizens.
The national healthcare system is broken, but we are innovators in making it better. We don’t oppose the Affordable Care Act because we don’t like Democrats or don’t want people to have health insurance. We oppose it because it doesn’t solve the problem.
- We believe market forces are the primary lever to lower healthcare prices. We reduce the legal and regulatory barriers to competition in the healthcare arena and push for more price transparency.
- We encourage innovation in healthcare and seek to be at the forefront of the emerging tech sector in this space.
- Our state’s major employers have become increasingly generous in their benefit offerings. We want North Carolinians to keep those plans and encourage more companies to offer them, as well.
- We don’t want healthcare to be a handcuff that keeps people out of the entrepreneurial world. We work to find ways to keep families covered while making that leap.
Our country’s education model is still based on an Industrial Revolution-era economy. North Carolina will be a leader in pioneering models that prepare our people for today’s world. Charter schools are a primary piece of how we achieve this.
- Families benefit from increased choice in education, and public charters do this well.
- Traditional public school districts respond to competition by improving their offerings.
- Successful models found in charter schools can be expanded statewide.
- Exceptional teachers are the biggest driver of educational success. We pay what it takes to keep good teachers in the classroom. We target our pay scales to recruit and retain top talent.
There’s no such thing as “government money.” It is your money, and we treat it with the reverence that requires.
A primary goal is keeping taxes as low as possible, letting families keep more of their hard-earned money. Lowering taxes is not “leaving money on the table,” as the left considers it — it’s a major victory.
The Republican Party is not the party of old white men. We are a party that embraces our diversity, centering on intellectual principles rather than intersectional groups.
Government is not best used when it wages culture wars. All people are equal under the law — but more than that, all people deserve love and respect. Actions that are needlessly divisive are not a good use of energy.
We operate with the highest standards of ethics and transparency. We push for policies that are what’s best for North Carolina, not what’s politically expedient. We communicate openly with constituents and hold debates on the big issues — out in the public.
We put an emphasis on customer service at all touchpoints North Carolinians have with government. We invest in technology and automation to let most services happen online and on your time, and we borrow best practices from the top companies in the private sector.