Viewpoint

Beer money goes a long way in N.C.

The Observer editorial board

Beer distributors poured big money into the campaigns of N.C. lawmakers, and it worked.
Beer distributors poured big money into the campaigns of N.C. lawmakers, and it worked. Getty Images

From an editorial Wednesday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

North Carolina’s big beer distributors took smaller craft brewers to school during the legislative session this year, pouring more than $90,000 into the campaigns of influential lawmakers such as Senate president pro-tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. Berger got more than $30,000 from the distributors and Moore got more than $20,000.

The big distributors were fighting – and won the fight, by the way – an effort led by a couple of smaller craft brewers out of Charlotte to raise the cap on the self-distribution of their products, the limit beyond which the smaller guys have to pay the bigger guys for distribution. The distributors argue they’re actually helping the craft beer industry and its brewers expand, and thus preventing the big brewers from having their own distribution system and expanding their market to the detriment of the small brewers.

But the battle really revealed more about playing the political game than anything else. The distributors wanted to make the machinery of government work for their benefit, and nothing helps the ol' machinery like a little old-fashioned green grease. The distributors, through the N.C. Beer & Wine Wholesalers political action committee, just say this is nothing special and they’re just supporting their friends on Jones Street. Now it remains an issue for the courts.

The meaning of “beer money” is expanding, yes indeed.

Flunking history

From an editorial Wednesday in the (Wilmington) Star News:

It’s nice to see people learn their history, but a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Case in point: the Honorable Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Responding to a Democratic Party tweet Sunday on the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Woodhouse accused Democrats of being responsible for killing black people in Wilmington in 1898.

Well, technically, that’s true. The perpetrators of the 1898 insurrection/coup – who burned down a black-owned newspaper, forced the city’s legally elected Republican leadership to resign, more or less at gunpoint, and killed an unknown number of black residents – were overwhelmingly affiliated with the then-conservative Democratic Party.

But mostly, that’s a cutesy debater’s trick. A reasonable person realizes that the Democratic Party has changed over the past 120 years.

Following Woodhouse’s logic, perhaps Democrats should start tweeting about the GOP’s role in the Great Depression and the number of Republicans who opposed entry into World War II, giving aid and comfort to the Nazis. Should we blame contemporary Republicans for the burning of Atlanta and Charleston during the Civil War?

In 1898, the North Carolina Democratic Party consisted entirely of white men. The state Democratic Party in 2017 includes a large number of African Americans. In fact, more than 80 percent of black registered voters in North Carolina are Democrats.

In the 1960s, with Democrats like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Terry Sanford supporting civil rights, and the attraction of Barry Goldwater and the GOP’s Southern Strategy, white Southerners began to exit the Democratic Party. Most black voters have long since pledged allegiance to the Democrats.

We’d suggest that if Tar Heel Republicans want to make inroads among black voters, they not only disavow these type of antics.

Is that really the message they have for black voters?

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