My Last Column, But Not the Last Word

This is my last column, but not the last you’ll hear from me. I’m going to slip the bonds of a weekly deadline and write a book about my life and experiences in North Carolina politics.

Writing a book takes work. I learned that when I wrote Jim Hunt: A Biography, published in 2010. (Copies are still available online, at fine bookstores and in my garage.)

I started writing these weekly columns for North Carolina newspapers, plus occasional extra blogs, on August 27, 2019 – two years ago. Counting this one, that’s 138 posts.

Many papers and news outlets published the columns. They were emailed to more than 2,000 people each week.

The response has been gratifying. For writers, praise is a tonic. Right as I began thinking about stopping, a reader emailed me: “Just a note to tell you how much I look forward to reading these.”

I almost changed my mind.

I even like it when somebody complains and criticizes what I wrote. Thanks for reading, even if you didn’t like it.

The columns were the idea of my long-time friend Phil Carlton, retired Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He believed that the state’s newspapers, especially in smaller communities, needed more information and insight about politics and public policy.

I tried to provide that, without the ranting and raving that mark too much political discourse. I sought to be thoughtful, reasonable and educational – to provide history, context and explanation that would help make sense of politics today.

Not that it’s easy to make sense of politics today. How do you make sense of politicians who resist common-sense protections against a virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans – and 14,000 North Carolinians? People are dying, and children are suffering, because of politics.

The Republican Party has been taken over by an anti-science, anti-government, anti-democracy ideology. We expected the worst from Donald Trump, and he was worse than we expected. He has disrespected and trashed our great country’s history, laws and Constitution.

Too many otherwise thoughtful and responsible Republicans are unable or unwilling to resist, even after Trump tried to overturn the election and his supporters ransacked the Capitol.

Democrats have their hearts in the right place, but I fear they’re not ready to win in 2022 and 2024.

As one reader said, “It takes courage not to get discouraged.”

He was a Republican, by the way.

Stubbornly, I remain an optimist. I’ve seen and studied enough history to believe our state and nation will come through today’s trials. My book will talk about that.

I close with words of thanks.

I’ve been helped immeasurably by the advice and support of the New Day team and board of directors: Judge Carlton, Wendy Wilson, Joyce Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Bass, Cy Stewart, David Woronoff and Frank Daniels, Jr.

Frank gave me wise advice: “The best way to advocate is to educate.” Wendy was a great legal counsel who turned out to be a great editor. Cy built and maintained the website and e-mail list. Phil, Joyce, Stephanie and David gave me insightful ideas and candid critiques.

I thank the newspaper editors who ran my columns. They work long hours, with short staffs and tight budgets. Do them, and yourself, a favor: Pay for a subscription. Yes, there’s a lot of free stuff online. Facts and truth cost money.

Above all, I thank you – the reader. You’re a rare breed these days, because you read newspapers and you read columns like this, even if you disagree.

Keep reading. And stay tuned.

You can read all the columns and blogs at

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