My child used to love school but, that has all changed once the new principal came to Farmville Middle School. What in...

King of the hill is not good goverment

Tom Campbell.jpg

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What we are currently witnessing in state government feels like watching the movie “Groundhog Day.” Our legislature passes a bill, the governor vetoes it, lawmakers override the veto, then the issue goes to court. These political games of “gotcha” are a lousy way to run a government. It is time consuming, costs money (taxpayer dollars) and distracts us from issues we need to address.

Why do we repeatedly go through these charades? In years past we boasted of being a “good government” state but the current rancor, hyper partisanship and political maneuvering don’t come close to such a claim. What we’ve got resembles the childhood game we played called “King of the Mountain,” where the biggest and most powerful lorded over those below.

Here’s what I believe most of us want. We want competitive elections where either candidate could win and the one with the best ideas prevails. Instead we get nasty elections that ignore issues and feature character assassinations. We want elected representatives who work for the common good, not for lobbyists, special interest groups or even just their own caucus.

We want representatives who insist that the best legislation comes from open public hearings and compromise, where public input and amendments are allowed, not from behind closed doors by an elite few. And we’re tired of tired claims that the other side did it first. We want citizen legislators for whom this isn’t a career, who serve for a time, then return home to be an average citizen.

Without taking sides with either political tribe or with one government branch over another there are two obvious changes that will help improve state government. The first is to return to a time when legislative leadership changed regularly. Prior to 1977, the house speaker served only one two-year term and leadership in the Senate came from the elected lieutenant governor, limited to one four-year term. This practice upheld the guiding principles of our founders, who were fearful of placing too much power in too few hands. Now senior legislative leaders serve almost as long as they like.

Former House Speaker Joe Mavretic makes the case. “The first four years,” Mavretic says, “they work for the people. After that, they work for their friends and special interest groups.” Remember these powerful leaders were not elected by the majority of the 6 million voters in our state. They were chosen by a few thousand voters in a particular district, then, by whatever means they could employ, were able to convince the majority of members of the majority party in their respective chambers to give them the power.

Our founders were fearful of giving the governor too much power but at least our executive is elected by all the voters. Not so with House or Senate leadership. This needs changing.

The second change is to end gerrymandering, where politicians choose their voters instead of the other way around. North Carolina is not a ballot initiative state, meaning a large number of citizens are unable to force an issue to a vote. Change must be made by legislators, who obviously don’t want to give up power.

Here’s how we get it done. When a legislative candidate asks for your vote, ask him or her to sign a pledge to set up an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission. If enough do so we can end gerrymandering, then work on terms for legislative leaders. Both will help in restore good government to our state.

Tom Campbell is former assistant state treasurer and creator and host of NC SPIN, a statewide panel discussion that airs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on UNC-TV and 10 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday on the North Carolina Channel.Contact him at www.ncspin.com.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

February 21, 2019

Several local school districts have asked the General Assembly to free them from the rigid start-date and end-date of the academic year now embedded in law. They define the issue as "calendar flexibility."

What seems a prosaic procedural matter actually poses a test of policymakers' flexibility and…

Ferrel Guillory

February 20, 2019

It's hard to be a native New Yorker and be stunned by much of anything that you see on the city's streets. But the other day I was in for quite a surprise.

As it happens, I had just mentioned a certain maternity-clothes store in Tribeca that happens to be across the street from Planned Parenthood.…


February 20, 2019

Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults —slavery and tariffs. He said: "Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more…

Walter Williams

February 19, 2019

El Chapo’s murderous Sinaloa drug cartel was based in Mexico, but for years its American nerve center was Chicago. His henchmen from the Little Village neighborhood, twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, turned the city into a conduit for as much as 1,500 kilos of cocaine and heroin each…

February 19, 2019

There's one in every family: The embarrassing relative who spouts off conspiracy theories or racist opinions at Thanksgiving.

If that relative was in your circle of friends, you'd make sure they didn't get invited ever again. But because they're family, you're stuck putting up with the crazy.


Colin Campbell

February 18, 2019

I was born in Charlotte. But I grew up in rural Mecklenburg County. There used to be such a place — and, indeed, quite a few such places still exist in our increasingly urbanized state.

My family lived on 40 acres, mostly forest with a freight-rail track running through it. When the train…

john hood.jpg

February 18, 2019


It snowed on Amy Klobuchar as she announced her run for president. And while that might be a bad omen for some candidates, the icy weather accurately symbolizes her appeal.

The Minnesota Democrat, just elected to a third Senate term, portrays herself as a common-sense pragmatist from a blue-…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

February 17, 2019

If the most important factor determining the welfare of workers is the growth rate of the economy, that has policy implications that free-market conservatives, among others, will welcome.

Real, long-term economic growth is about investment, about both the amount invested and how skillfully it is…

john hood.jpg

February 17, 2019

Would you like to know why U.S. sanctions against companies owned by Russian billionaire and businessman Oleg Deripaska are being lifted?

You are the reason.

Me too.

And so is everybody else who lives and votes in North Carolina.

Last April, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against…


February 16, 2019

With confidence in government at record lows, where have all our leaders gone? Where is the James Madison of today, or the Thomas Jefferson, or even Everett Dirksen? He was the Republican leader who partnered with President Johnson to pass civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

These people were…

314 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 32
        Next Page»   Last Page»