Sunday, November 03, 2013

Meet North Carolina's Newest Democrat: Jason Thigpen


There are no moderates left in the Republican House Caucus. The "best" you'll get is a mainstream conservative willing to stand up to Tea Party extremism from time to time-- or a libertarian who may be good on an important issue or two but is still, essentially, a raving lunatic on everything else. Walter Jones (R-NC) is kind of a mix of the two. He is a basic mainstream conservative with some libertarian tendencies. He also has voted for progressive bills in the House more frequently than any other Republican this year-- and more frequently than 9 right-wing Democrats-- John Barrow (GA), Jim Matheson (UT), Ron Barber (AZ), Mike McIntyre (NC), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Pete Gallego (TX), Bill Owens (NY), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Carolyn McCarthy (NY). Until last week, Jones had attracted one Democrat, Marshall Adame, and 4 Republican primary challengers, Tea Party lunatic Scott Dacey, right-wing GOP Establishment operative Taylor Griffin, Michael Malagasi and Jason Thigpen. Now he has only 3 primary challengers-- and two Democrats.

Jones was first elected to the North Carolina state legislature as a Democrat but after losing his first congressional race, he switched to the GOP and was elected  to the House in 1994. For the next decade, Jones was a garden variety right-wing Republican hack. But something seems to have woken him up to the excesses of the Bush presidency that turned him into the most independent-minded Republican in Congress. He's been drawing right-wing primary opponents ever since. Last year Tea Party crackpot Frank Palombo managed to win close to a third of the vote in the GOP primary against him. The extremists who run the North Carolina Republican Party made the district less red when they did their gerrymandering in 2010, his district going from a solid R+15 to a bit shakier R+11. Still, Obama only managed to win 40% of the vote there last year, even against as weak and uninspiring a candidate as Mitt Romney.

And that brings us back to Walter Jones' opponents. One of the Republicans, Jason Thigpen, suddenly declared he's a Democrat, withdrew from the GOP primary battle and now wants to face off against Jones as a Democrat. Last year, Democrat Erik Anderson took 114,314 votes (37%) to Jones' 195,571 (63%). Thigpen has been slowly waking up to what a destructive force the Republican Party has turned into. Back in August, Thigpen, who is pro-Choice, favors equality under the law for all Americans (including LGBT marriage rights) and who helped Democrat Mike McIntyre get reelected in 2012, seemed to be having public doubts about his own party, posting on his Facebook page that GOP efforts to disenfranchise American citizens and prevent them from voting is completely unacceptable… and especially so for someone who has fought for this country in war time as Thigpen did (in Iraq).
"You can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it's still a turd. This is 2013 and any legislator that puts forth such a discriminatory bill should be laughed out of office. This is America, not Russia… You have those that honestly believe our country would be better off turning back the clock to years ago, also known as the 'good-old days,' which weren't all that good for everyone. After suppressing the right to vote, what's next? Are these so-called Representatives going to push for preventing our military, veterans, and women from voting? Next thing you know, they'll be proposing bills where women can only speak when spoken to and walk 10-paces behind their husband in public. These policies are archaic and in no way reflect the values of the people in the great State of North Carolina. The passing of this horrendous legislation is like a person going to the doctor with a broken ankle and the doctor amputating their leg to fix it."
The Charlotte News and Observer describes Thigpen as "a six-year Army veteran who received a Purple Heart [and] graduated from UNC-Wilmington in May and started a nonprofit group called Student Veterans Advocacy Group. The 36-year-old lives in Holly Ridge with his wife and four children." Like everyone else in North Carolina, they read Thigpen's statement about why he quit the GOP with… well, maybe not shock and awe, but certainly with great interest. Thigpen's campaign website:
“Enough is enough,” says Jason R. Thigpen-- formerly a Republican candidate seeking election to the U.S. House in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. “After discussing it with my wife and family, I’ve decided to run as a Democrat rather than a Republican. I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camel's back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.”

“Regardless of Party affiliation, we should be able to agree and agree to disagree on issues, and still go out for coffee or dinner afterwards. To think anyone can despise, loath, insult, and threaten another American simply because of their Party affiliation is almost depressing. I mean, how many Democrats or Republicans entire families are registered with the same Party? So if your mother, father, brother, or sister are registered with a different Party would you disown them? Would you wish harm on them? Would you choose to no longer celebrate holidays with them? Would you no longer love them? These are the real questions that need answering before continuing the debate because when did being an American just no longer matter?”, Thigpen asks.

  Thigpen further explains, “I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one Party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans. Whether white, black, Hispanic, Asian, man, woman, gay, lesbian, straight, rich, or poor-- we fought together as equals, side-by-side for the benefit of every American in the same. So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable. This same group of spineless legislators piggybacked a motorcycle safety bill with legislation intentionally geared to shut down women’s health clinics because of their ‘right righteous’ beliefs on abortion, while then cutting funding to the programs which help feed and provide healthcare to the babies they invariably forced the same women to have. Sounds like the Christian thing to do, huh? These legislators, acting under the guise of the religious right and morality believe themselves to be the divine judge but according to the Bible, there is only one judge. They say they’re for a smaller government and individual rights while pushing legislation for more government intervention and regulation usurping our right to choose for ourselves. They take money away from the public school system so they can call it broken, only to give the money to their charter schools that are really private schools, just so our kids don’t go to the same school as theirs all the while giving some great speech trying to convince us it isn’t segregation. Right. But all along, they seemingly want you to believe that you have a choice-- like ‘cake or death.’

Thigpen says, “We have to choose a party Republican or Democrat that possess the ideals that we can adhere to and have an opportunity to represent our families, friends, and neighbors. The GOP leadership has such little regard and faith in the more than 1 Million people whom live in NC’s 3rd Congressional District that they don’t believe even one of us are good enough to represent OUR District. So they sent a lobbyist who’s lived in Washington, D.C. for the last 15 or more years. What an insult.”

“Shutting down the government was seemingly easy for our elected Representatives, as they’re not adversely affected with their pay being protected by the Constitution. They were some real patriots though, huh? These so called Representatives sat around in Washington playing chicken with their constituent’s lives all while patting each other on the back saying ‘great job.’ Yeah that’s real patriotic all right. But for the millions of Americans that rely on the benefits to feed their children, receive life sustaining medication and countless other services imperative to their needs, this was a selfish decision motivated by personal agenda. Party affiliation is irrelevant. What is relevant is that those persons elected by the people to safeguard their rights failed in their duty to protect them. Moral principle and virtue are exactly what these Representatives fail to regard in their actions and it is time they are held accountable.”

Thigpen says faith is an important part of his life, and several verses from the Bible that he finds particularly relevant to this discussion are from II Timothy chapter 4 verses 2-5, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Jason R. Thigpen stands for the people of North Carolina and this great Nation because they matter, for their children and their children’s children, for they are our future leaders and innovators that will continue to carry the torch of leadership, innovation, liberty and freedom. Jason is dedicated to truly serving the people and with his proven leadership and unwavering commitment he will strive to promote prosperity for every North Carolinian and American. It is for this reason candidate Thigpen will be representing the people as a Conservative Democrat.

Thigpen closes by saying, “Representing your family, neighbors, and community is relatively easy as long as you put people before party and politics. That is my campaign slogan because regardless of whether I win or lose this election…I believe the great people of NC’s 3rd District deserve a legitimate choice in who’s going to represent them. Throughout all of the advocacy work I’ve done in our communities I’ve come to realize that our actions and efforts are what best define us to the people not the letters D or R. I’m doing this for my family, friends, and neighbors because I truly believe in serving the interests of every constituent, not just a few of them.”
After spending some time on the phone with Jason and his team over the weekend, I'm looking forward to him beating Jones next year, getting into Congress and helping Mike McIntyre come back towards the mainstream of Democratic Party progressive thought. I can tell you with great certainly that Jason Thigpen is nothing like the Republicans Rahm Emanuel and Steve Israel bring into the Democratic Party with all their ideological baggage. This is the kind of American we should be honored to welcome into the Democratic Party.

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