Viewpoint

Political dissent is not a leftist ‘tantrum,’ Mr. Dowd

From Rev. James C. (Jay) Leach, senior minister at Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, in response to Frank Dowd IV’s column, “Left throws tantrum over lost power” (June 5):

Frank Dowd IV had the fortune to be born into one of North Carolina’s wealthier families. We owe appreciation for the ways his family has shared a portion of their enormous wealth with our larger community.

Mr. Dowd has also invested tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence the political process in our city, state and nation. Year after year he has given a great deal of money to politicians. He is cited as being among the most prominent political donors trying to convince elected leaders to protect the N.C. island where he has a vacation home.

Using money to sway politicians is a part of our system. It is an obvious way to try to nudge things in the direction the donor would like to see them go.

However, we didn’t all have the good fortune to be born into an extraordinarily wealthy family. So, if we want to participate in the democratic process and exert our own influence, we can’t simply write big checks and hire lobbyists.

Fortunately, our democracy offers other means. We can write and call our representatives. We can lobby, protest, march and support legal challenges. We can attempt to rally and change public opinion. All of these are also ways to try to nudge things in directions we would like to see them go.

Disturbed by a radical shift in our state, worried about the well-being of our teachers and public schools, our sick and needy neighbors, our air quality and waterways, and committed to moral values that guide our lives, many of us have engaged in just these kinds of actions. We’ve seen how things are and we believe we can and must do better.

How profoundly regrettable, then, that in his recent Observer column Mr. Dowd now joins other conservative Republicans in belittling fellow citizens for participating in our democracy. We’ve already been referred to as “morons,” a “circus,” “hippies,” the “Loony Left.” We’ve been dismissed by Gov. Pat McCrory as “outsiders.” Others have hurled their own derisive insults.

Mr. Dowd now joins them, characterizing our efforts as “loud tantrums from the Left.”

Perhaps we could simply overlook his resort to the tired, unimaginative attempt to label the thousands of teachers, retirees, social workers, doctors, business people, clergy people, farm workers, students and children who have engaged in dissent as “the Left.” But, how deeply sad, even pathetic to read that he regards his fellow citizens’ active participation in our democracy as a “tantrum.”

How then might Mr. Dowd characterize those who energetically advocated for the abolition of slavery, forcefully protested for the right of women to vote, vigorously marched for the civil rights of all? What about those who vehemently demonstrated for democracy around the world? Tell us, Mr. Dowd: were they all just Leftists throwing “loud tantrums” as well?

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