Kristine Kaiser: Stand up, Kay Hagan. Be a Democrat

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

Sen. Kay Hagan sorely missed the point when she was one of four Democrats to vote against the Senate’s first budget in years. The resolution, narrowly passing in a 50-49 vote, was not meant to be the final fiscal document; it was about how a budget should be. Her objection that the plan cut too much from the military is meaningless.
The $3.7 trillion plan was an expression of the Democratic vision for the nation. The Murray plan is a balance of new revenue, targeted cuts, and investment spending. 
The plan stands as a stark contrast to the Ryan budget. Only the Ryan plan calls for tax cuts for the very wealthy at the expense of ordinary citizens; it makes deep cuts in the social safety net.
What did Hagan think about adding new revenue to the coffers? The Senate budget vote proposed a basic, fundamental question about a way forward. It asked about which group is going to pay more of the tab for operating government, either the extremely wealthy or the middle-class.
Did Hagan think that it’s a bad idea to close the tax loopholes for corporations? The question was never about cuts to the military or really any specifics cuts. The question was broader, more philosophical. Hagan appears to be intentionally dull.
We know that Hagan is not stupid. She is running for re-election is a state that went for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Hagan is a high profile Democrat in a red state. She probably didn’t vote for the budget as a means of self-preservation; it is not good to promote raising new taxes with an election near. Still, Hagan is a Democrat and should stand as a Democrat when it comes to basic issues involving a budget. She should not hope to muddy the idea of support for her party’s vision of the future.
The red state threat is exaggerated. By the time Hagan runs for re-election, the state Republicans will have shown their backward method of operation, their true colors. They will have tried to suppress voting practices with a voter ID requirement. They will have tried to dismantle public schools with a voucher plan. They will have cut many millions from our nationally acclaimed university system. They will not have supported the furniture market. They will have blurred the line between church and state.
By 2014, it might not be so great to be a Republican legislator in North Carolina. The state’s GOP is guilty of overreach.
Also, while it is true that Mitt Romney won the state in election 2012, Obama barely set a foot in North Carolina. President Obama left the state to Romney, looking for easier wins. If Obama had really fought for the state, there might have been a very different outcome. He sent Joe Biden and Michelle Obama to campaign in his place.
Regardless, Hagan will have a tough re-election fight. Yet, I hope that she will run as a bona fide Democrat. Sometimes politicians lead, and sometimes they follow. On the national scene, comprehensive immigration reform shows us that politicians can successfully lead their constituents if they are willing to take a stand. The same is true with the issue of gay rights. Politicians can lead the public to new opinions.
Hagan’s vote against the Senate budget was a timid move. Let her assert real Democratic leadership and offer an alternative to the “red state” ways of our state.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.