When The Long Leaf Pine Slate started in January of 2020, I expected it to be a modest online project. Instead, “The Slate” blossomed into the top grassroots Democratic fundraiser in North Carolina for our state legislature. In an election cycle marked by a lot of disappointment in our state, the breakout success of the Long Leaf Pine Slate was a silver lining. In our shared mission to reverse the tide of corrupt right-wing misrule in Raleigh, we believe in building on what works – and now, we’re very excited to share it with you.
At Carolina Forward, we believe in a more just, democratic and prosperous North Carolina that works for everyone, not just the well-connected few. We believe that an honest, transparent and effective government should not be the privilege of the wealthy and fortunate, but a basic right of every resident. At the core of our values is justice: economic, social, racial, environmental and otherwise. Those principles have been badly abused over the last decade of Republican misrule in Raleigh. In that time, our state has only gotten more unequal, more unjust, and far more corrupt. Enough is enough.
To fight back effectively against the organized far-right movement in North Carolina, we must focus on what works, and where we have asymmetric advantages over the other side. The clear success of the Long Leaf Pine Slate is one such example. Not only did “the Slate” deliver to select downballot Democratic challengers nearly as much as Duke Energy gave to all legislative Republicans combined, but we did it with almost zero overhead. We forced Republicans to compete (and spend heavily) in districts they hadn’t expected to, and even in a tough cycle for downballot Democrats, we helped flip Republican seats.
Let us not mince words: the 2010s were a disaster for North Carolina families, schools, workers, its environment, and (especially) vulnerable communities. If we are to avoid a second decade of more of the same, we must expand, and redouble, our fight. Most importantly, we must change tactics. The same old, tired approaches and strategies simply will no longer do. They are not working. It’s time for something different.
We need new ideas, as well as better ways to distribute them. We must develop a deeper bench of younger leaders across the state who understand that the old rules of the game have changed and that partisan politics have evolved. There is generational change happening all over our country, and it’s time that wave came to North Carolina politics. Carolina Forward will invest in these priorities so that when the next election cycle comes around, our dollars can go even further in winning hearts, minds, and most importantly, votes. We must win the public argument that we North Carolinians are in this together, and that core American values of justice, democracy, and shared prosperity are the best ways to build our state in the 21st century.
Perhaps most of all, we will need patience and resolve. This will be a long fight. The far-right has entrenched power, deep pockets, a zeal for playing dirty and an internalized, highly organized understanding of power politics. Winning victories against these forces will take time. We may lose more races than we will win, at least in the interim.
But rest assured – eventually, we will win.
One way to summarize the history of North Carolina could be as 232 years of right-wing regressivism fighting progress at every single step – and they are today. But eventually, the reactionaries have always lost, and they will in our era as well. They can manipulate the voter rolls, gerrymander the maps, hollow out our institutions and worse, but in the long run, they will lose to the slow, steady and righteous voices of North Carolinians demanding the fullest measure of democracy and justice. We are here to make sure they do.
Today, I’m asking you to join us. You can propel our movement by joining our email list, following us on social media (on Facebook or Twitter) or sharing this post with friends. You can also become a financial supporter, and know that you are investing in not just repairing our home, but joining a community of your peers who are putting your values into practice.
We’re going to tell a new story of North Carolina – one of a truly multiracial democracy that provides justice and prosperity to all its people. And we’re going to do it together.
Let us begin.