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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Carolina In The Spotlight

Tommy Tomlinson

If you live in North Carolina, and you have not received a flyer, email, text message or robocall about the November election, congratulations – you’re officially entered in the Witness Protection Program.

Every other breathing human in this state has been inundated with political messages imploring you to vote for or against one candidate or another. The ads show up every time we open the mailbox, every time we turn on a ball game, every time we open a YouTube video.

The reason is that your vote – yeah, you, sitting there drinking your coffee in Charlotte or Monroe or Hickory this morning – your vote might change the whole direction of our country.

No pressure.

That’s because North Carolina is, in the words of Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper, “the swingiest of the swing states.”

He said that in a recent piece by Politico’s Michael Kruse, who outlined the swingiest of the swing voters in our state: women who live in the Charlotte or Raleigh suburbs, white, college-educated, registered as unaffiliated.

Those of you who fit that bill could tip the presidential election toward Joe Biden or Donald Trump. You could reelect Sen. Thom Tillis or oust him for Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, which could give the Democrats a majority in the Senate. The outcomes of those two elections alone will go a long way to shaping what kind of country we have in 2021.

But there are so many more races. In Mecklenburg County, the ballot covers everything from president down to Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor. I hope these last few years have taught us, if nothing else, that every office matters – every member of the state cabinet, every appeals court judge, every county commissioner.

And because every office matters, every vote matters.

The president has already been making noise about challenging the election results if he loses, because the pandemic has led millions more people to vote by mail than they would in a normal election.

One of the results of all that noise is to make people lose faith in the democratic process. I worry that some people aren’t going to vote because they figure the Supreme Court or somebody will just end up deciding the election anyway.

It seems to me that the only way to counter that notion is to vote in such overwhelming numbers that the will of the people is not in question.

That requires us to do the work. Figure out the safest and best way to vote where you are. If you know who you’re going to vote for, vote early. Don’t wait until the last minute to look up the candidates.

Elections are always important everywhere. But in this election, like it or not, North Carolina has been pushed to the front of the stage. Don’t get distracted by the ads and the noise. The whole country – maybe the whole world – is counting on us to do our duty.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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