LAURINBURG — Longtime Democrat Phillip McRae said he knows why his party lost the 2016 presidential election.
McRae, the keynote speaker at this year’s Scotland County Democratic Convention, said voters felt the same way he did when he had a defective fax machine that often “went on the blink” during peak times at a busy office.
“My blood pressure was going through the ceiling and I had had enough,” said McRae, the county’s clerk of court. “Finally when everyone left, I picked up that fax machine and thumped it. I said to myself now I have to get a new one … something that will work.
“To me that is what happened in our country. People were so frustrated with our government that they were willing to pick it up like a watermelon and smash it.”
McRae said that is how Republican Donald Trump, a man he calls as “a carnival barker,” became president.
“I mean that respectfully,” McRae said of his description of the new president. “We have to respect the office because we are good citizens and we still want to try to influence our government in a positive direction.”
Trump, a billionaire reality television star and political newcomer, beat 15 other more established candidates in the Republican primaries before knocking out Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Observers said Trump did it by tapping into voter anger that the country needs to change. Trump also won North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes on Election Day, beating Clinton in what was considered a crucial battleground state.
But McRae said that voters may ultimately be disappointed by the things that Trump and the Republicans initiate — mainly policies that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor.
“The thinking is that they will get 50 percent of the vote plus one and do whatever they want and the devil with the rest of us,” McRae said. “Secretary Clinton’s approach was that we’re all going forward together.”
State Rep. Garland Pierce of Wagram also spoke briefly to the 50 or so Democrats attending the 2017 convention. Pierce talked about the priorities of the new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and those in the General Assembly. He said Democrats plan to focus on unmet funding needs in public education, Medicaid expansion, broadband access to rural areas, the continuation of disaster relief efforts begun during last month’s special legislative session and the repeal of HB2.
“You sometimes have to be prepared for war in a time of peace,” Pierce said. “So let’s stick together, let’s work hard and let’s keep our issues alive.”
Pierce talked about the priorities of the new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and those in the General Assembly. He said Democrats plan to focus on unmet funding needs in public education, Medicaid expansion, broadband access to rural areas, the continuation of disaster relief efforts begun during last month’s special legislative session and the repeal of HB2.
“We’re looking to move forward and the governor has a great team,” Pierce said. “We might even be able to get some of the more moderate Republicans to vote with.”
The party also elected officers for 2017. They are Walter Jackson, chairman; Dorothy Tyson, first vice chair; Jon Stewart, second vice chair; Gail McRae, third vice chair; Iris Cousar, secretary; and Page Pratt, treasurer.
The Democrats will hold their district convention on May 20.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023