Letter: This Democrat respects views of moderates and progressives

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Keith Thomson’s recent Mountain Xpress letter praised Al Whitesides, my opponent in the race for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, District 1 [“Whitesides Offers Progressive, Dedicated Leadership,” April 13]. It also raised important issues that highlight the debilitating divide between progressive and moderate Democrats. He stated: “The danger of treating the first African American county commissioner in Buncombe County history the ways some did Al Gore in Florida in 2000, Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2016, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March 2022 is the law of unintended consequences cannot be repealed. No one can honestly claim to be ‘progressive’ and pull that trick.”

I think Mr. Thomson is saying that I am a spoiler candidate like he believes Green Party candidates Ralph Nader and Jill Stein were to Hillary and Al. However, I am a Democratic Party candidate, not a Green Party candidate. If I lose the primary, it will not harm the distinguished Mr. Whitesides’ chances of winning the general election, and I’ll work and vote for him.

Then there’s Mr. Thomson’s concern that my candidacy will cause Buncombe County to lose its only African American commissioner. And though I agree this is an important issue, I felt it was more important to oppose Mr. Whitesides because he voted to subsidize the Pratt & Whitney plant by $27 million of our tax dollars — a plant that will be making parts for one of the most lethal weapons on Earth, the F-35 Lightning. And since the Lightning is designed to carry nuclear weapons, he also voted to make our county an integral part of America’s preparation for nuclear war.

Then there’s Mr. Thomson’s contention that “No one can honestly claim to be ‘progressive’ and pull this trick.”  I presume that means that you can’t vote for me and call yourself a progressive Democrat. Such a statement widens the already vast schism between progressive and moderate Democrats that has stunted our party’s success both locally and nationally. Especially now, with our very democracy in great peril, we need to heal these wounds. The decisions we have to make to save our freedoms are incredibly difficult ones. Making the best decisions will require a robust discussion involving all sectors of our wonderful, big-tent party.

Because I deeply realize how hard these decisions are, I have profound respect for the views of moderate Democrats as well as progressive Democrats. I believe I can promote respectful and productive communication between these branches. And that I can do the same with the Green Party, the Democratic-Socialist Party, the Poor People’s Party and others who have left the Democratic coalition. Our Democratic Party will need all the support we can get to achieve our goals of preserving the democracy, promoting racial, sexual and social justice, and achieving a sustainable ecology and a stable world peace.

— Bill Branyon


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3 thoughts on “Letter: This Democrat respects views of moderates and progressives

  1. Robert

    It’s refreshing to see a candidate take the time and energy (and risk) to write a letter to voice his position and let voters know who he is and what he stands for. Regardless of how others choose to vote, this, in my opinion, is a noble and transparent way to let the community learn who you are and how you will operate whether elected or not. We need more candidates (and current office-holders) willing to step out on a limb to publicly state a bit about who they are.

  2. Keith Thomson

    My experience studying US and Soviet nuclear strategies and tactics was most current in the late eighties and early nineties, but I still see no evidence that tactical nuclear warheads are, or have been since the sixties, or will be, deployed on fighter jets.

    Disparaging a unanimous vote of our Commissioners by invoking nuclear nightmares is irresponsible. Changing US foreign and defense policies is a noble, serious endeavor, I suggest that becoming a Buncombe County Commissioner has a different job discription. Writing checks that you can not cash is corrosive of good government.

    Al Whitesides, nor any of the Buncombe County Commission members, currently or those who would serve if Mr. Branyon knocked Al out of the primary, get to vote how to deploy nuclear weapons, or for that matter, raise the minimum wage, impose rent controls, or create border controls at the county lines. This legal reality should not divide Democrats and our democratic allies.

    Ignoring or breaking the laws, or declaring your will and preferences be superior or sovereign to state and federal laws is not an option. That’s a tRUmpian putinized affectation that someone is above the law.

    The Buncombe County Sheriff primary candidate running in the Democratic Primary who believes that he would outrank the Governor, Attorney General, Supreme Court, and the rule of laws is no less misguided.

    Bill is a very nice person who can do good things. Running against Al is not one of them.

  3. Keith Thomson

    The problem with propagating IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES in Democratic Primaries is that they historically take on a life of their own and become voter suppression tactics in the general election. Art Pope, the Koch Brothers, Jesse Helms, Lee Atwater, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Karl Rove, Vladimir Putin, Ginny Thomas, Mark Meadows, tRUmp, and all other beneficiaries of this reality thank us for our cooperation. They couldn’t do it without us taking our ball home and especially not voting in Midterm elections.

    The problem is that we make the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Mr. Branyon will vote for Mr. Whitesides in the November election. Many people will believe Bill that Al, and by association, all of the Democratic candidates on the ballot, are responsible for a nuclear nightmare, and won’t vote at all.

    The real-world consequences have been that we lose momentum on creating and protecting progressive policies at the local, state, and national levels when we repeatedly do this. It is exhausting to try to clean up after working to slowly rebuild after we do this to ourselves and our chances of a broad governing coalition.

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