The other day, a voter in Rockingham asked me: What is the difference with the Main Street Democrats? How would we govern the state?
It was a legitimate question and one I welcomed. Here is what I said.
It is important for Democrats to rebuild their trust and their brand with voters. We must be forthright in admitting that our party drifted away from our core principles and lost the faith of the people who have supported us in the past.
Since we lost the majority, our strategy has been to simply defend the status quo. We have failed to offer the voters a viable option. That breakdown in trust and understanding with voters, especially independents, has resulted in a mass exodus of traditional democratic voters across the state.
To get them back, we need to reconnect with Main Street voters and offer them a vision of how they can participate in the American Dream of economic security for themselves and provide a better future for their children.
Our goal is to build a new majority with Democrats who can create a working coalition that will concentrate on our state’s prosperity and then deliver on what we say we are going to do.
Main Street Democrats believe that voters want their politicians to be frank. They want their leaders to present solutions and deliver results. They want their government to work efficiently and to be accountable and responsible.
In building a governing party for the future, we must embrace young, dynamic leadership who can help us point our state in a new direction. That’s why it’s exciting to see young leaders like Brian Turner from Asheville, Tricia Cotham and Joel Ford from Charlotte and Erica Smith-Ingram from Hertford County take emerging leadership roles in state government.
As we find new leaders for our party, we must also deliver a message that clearly defines for North Carolina voters who we are and what we believe.
Main Street Democrats want to advocate public policy positions that center around three core issues (1) job growth and economic prosperity; (2) supporting public education; and (3) making critical investments in our community such as health care and infrastructure.
So what’s the difference?
Main Street Democrats believe we can govern the state successfully by focusing on the issues that unite us rather than constantly battling the poisonous politics advanced by a vocal minority of social conservatives. We want to offer a positive message and a vision that embraces economic prosperity and success for our state.
The Main Street difference is based on our desire to govern from the center. There, we said it — we will promote a pro-business, middle-of-the road agenda. Main Street Democrats believe we can bring people together by advancing good public policy and common-sense government.
We believe that voters expect us to work in a bipartisan manner to advance the issues that will make a difference in the lives of our working families and the middle class. We want to advance a public policy agenda that improves the lives of those people on Main Street in Dunn and Forest City as well as the corner of Tryon and Trade in downtown Charlotte.
We will push tax policies that ask every citizen to do his or her fair share. We will support our public education institutions and those who work in our classrooms training the next generation. We will advocate for good roads and a health care delivery system that can take care of our aged, blind and disabled.
We do not believe that partisan purity has a place in governing. A good idea is just that, a good idea, and it deserves to be heard, debated and implemented.
Our legislative policies will be focused. We will be fiscally responsible. We will be coalition-builders to advance sound public policy. We will build a bridge to the business community with a message that a fair tax policy with great schools and strong communities without a social agenda is good for North Carolina.
We will work to restore the public’s trust. We will offer a different vision. We will show the voters that Democrats have a plan that will build a stronger state without an injection of the divisive politics we have seen the past few years. We will provide bold leadership with big ideas for a better North Carolina.
We will embrace a policy position that local governments at the municipal and county level have been duly elected and should be allowed to govern without interference from a heavy-handed Legislature.
We will promote our vision and show the voters of North Carolina that Democrats have a plan to govern, that we have the leadership to govern and deserve another chance to govern.
That’s the Main Street difference.
Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, is chairman of the N.C. Main Street Democrats Legislative Caucus. For more information, visit www.mainstdems.org.