Up & Coming Weekly

September 24, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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6 UCW SEPTEMBER 25-OCTOBER 1, 2019 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM OPINION State leaders to debate health care by JOHN HOOD e state of the political discourse was lousy. "Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion," wrote one longtime columnist. "ey are made by a process of blackmail and in- timidation, and they are executed in the same man- ner. e typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game." e same writer observed that, compared to "a state legislature in session," a visit to the local zoo would be "informing, stimulating and ennobling." His name was H.L. Mencken. He was writing about the contentious politics of 1930, not the con- tentious politics of 2019. And Mencken was grossly exaggerating. Our political process is under tremendous pres- sure, no question. In North Carolina and beyond, politics has been overly coarsened, polarized and trivialized. But the system isn't irreparably broken. Lawmakers continue to draft important bills, recruit bipartisan support and make substantive ar- guments for or against enactment. Political leaders still engage each other without constantly resorting to schemes or insults. North Carolinians of differing views haven't stopped talking to each other. We don't do these things enough, of course. We must do more. But cynicism about our civic dia- logue is premature. ere are positive examples out there, examples that deserve attention and emula- tion. e North Carolina Institute of Political Leader- ship has been doing this kind of work for decades. I have long been on its faculty and currently chair the board of directors. Its signature program is the IOPL Fellowship. Twice a year, IOPL selects a class of promising leaders — North Carolinians aspiring to be public servants in some capacity — and provides extensive training to prepare fellows to fill those roles effectively. e participants, faculty, and board of IOPL are carefully balanced by party, ideology and other characteristics. Fellows learn the nuts and bolts of political campaigns, to be sure, but they also learn how to govern wisely, in either elective or appoint- ive office, as well as how other institutions such as associations, interest groups, think tanks, and me- dia outlets help to shape political events and issues. Four years ago, IOPL decided to take its message to a larger audience by cohosting a series of home- town debates, along with local chambers of com- merce. During election years, the series focuses on statewide offices or referenda. In nonelection years, IOPL and its partners assemble panels of elected officials and policy practitioners to debate critical issues facing North Carolina. e 2019 series of hometown debates began on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the 119 West ird Event Center of the J. Smith Young YMCA in Lexington. Former Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and former State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, current chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, joined two other panelists to discuss Medic- aid transformation and expansion. On Oct. 1, Rep. Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklen- burg, and Sen. Carl Ford, R-Cabarrus, will headline a panel at the Norvell eater in Salisbury on health insurance issues. On Oct. 8, Sen. Jim Perry , R- Lenoir, and Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, will be part of a debate at East Carolina University's Black Box eater on how to improve health care access in ru- ral areas. Finally, on Oct. 17, Reps. Maryann Black, D-Durham, and Donna White, R-Johnston, will discuss issues of health care delivery at the Civic Center of Vance-Granville Community College. All four one-hour debates begin at 7 p.m. and will be moderated by Loretta Boniti, senior politi- cal reporter for the cable channel Spectrum News. Each will be broadcast on the Spectrum website and, in edited form, as an episode of Boniti's weekly public-affairs show "In Focus." Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, the North Carolina Association of Health Under- writers and the North Carolina Rural Center are among the series sponsors. If you want to elevate the political conversation, attend or watch the hometown debates — and help organize similar projects in your community. We all have a part to play in improving the practice of self-government in the state we proudly call home. e 2019 series of hometown debates began on Tuesday, Sept. 24. JOHN HOOD, Chairman of the John Locke Foundation. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Don't be just another face in the crowd. 910.484.6200 Can help your business get noticed. Give us a call today!

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