When Susie and I moved south to Chapel Hill, NC, we found ourselves in a blue puddle surrounded by a red sea. The fourth Congressional District of North Carolina is a safely Democratic enclave that has been represented for thirty years [save for a brief two year lapse] by David Price, a reliably liberal Democrat who holds a Yale doctorate in Political Science and taught at Duke before entering Congress. He wins re-election each time he runs by anywhere from 15 to 30 points. As a consequence, voting in Chapel Hill was pleasant but politically pointless. I might just as well have stayed home.
A year ago, we moved again, this time five miles further south to Carolina Meadows, the continuing care retirement community that is now our home. Thanks to the precise and thoughtful planning of the Republican majority in the state legislature, Carolina Meadows lies about four and a half feet inside the 6th CD, an equally reliable Republican stronghold. The 6th CD is represented by the execrable Mark Walker, now in his second term. Walker is an extreme right-wing member of the House Freedom caucus, briefly famous a short while ago for opining, after the Catholic House of Representatives Chaplain was abruptly fired by Paul Ryan, that the House needed a chaplain with a wife and children – which is to say, not a Catholic. Walker, by the way, was a Baptist minister for twenty years.
The 6th CD is what the political insiders call an R +9 district, which is to say it usually goes for the Republicans by 18 points, more or less [+9 means 9 points over 50%, not 9 points over the Democrat.] This year, Walker is being challenged by Ryan Watts, a 27 year old graduate of UNC Chapel Hill making his political debut. Watts is no fire breathing liberal, but he has articulated a standard moderately progressive program, in hopes that a blue wave will carry him to D.C. Manifestly, Watts has a big hill to climb, but after all, Conor Lamb eked out a win in a Pennsylvania R +10 district, so hope springs eternal. I have volunteered to work for the Watts campaign, at least during the next eight weeks before the Fall Columbia semester begins.
In midterms, the whole game is turnout, of course. The norm is for 35-40% of the eligible voters actually to go to the polls. Carolina Meadows is in Chatham County, one of the few D-leaning counties of the 6th CD. Carolina Meadows itself, as I have reported, is a hotbed of support for the Democratic Party, but getting people here to vote is not difficult. Carolina Meadows is actually the voting location for our precinct, which means the my fellow old folks can vote on their way to the dining room or the library. The rest of Chatham County, to our south, is mostly rural land with a few urban centers, such as Pittsboro and Siler City, and there ought to be some Democratic votes to harvest there.
I do not much enjoy politicking, if the truth be told, but I volunteered for Obama and walked door to door for Clinton, so while I diet, I will do what the Watts campaign wants me to do, and hope that I can bring a few lazy souls to the polls. I think this is the most important election I have participated in since I first knocked on doors in East Cambridge for Adlai Stevenson in 1956.
All politics are local.