Lonely in the Center: Left Attacks Centrist Democrat State Lawmaker for Supporting Voter ID

RALEIGH – Requiring photo identification to vote in elections is, to the majority of people, plain common sense. Reasonable concerns about those people that don’t have ID already (very few) are easily addressed by provisions in the current legislation that mandates county boards of elections offer ID to those voters for free.

Even though the general divide over voter ID is a partisan one, you’d expect such a common sense issue to yield at least some Democrats crossing the aisle to support it. Indeed, that is the case as a couple of Democrats have done just that.

What’s interesting about that is how much heat a Democrat supporting a popular, common sense policy is taking from the base of his party.

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A co-sponsor of one piece Voter ID legislation this week, one that added private and community college IDs to the accepted list, was Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg). Ford has been in the state senate since being elected in 2012, and is known as a centrist, especially when compared to the more radical Democrats in the legislature. He is a business owner that is sympathetic to many of the business-friendly policies of Republican majorities.

He ran for mayor of Charlotte in 2017 as a centrist decrying the divisive progressive politics in the Queen City that gave birth to the H.B. 2 controversy. He lost the Democratic primary in 2018 to someone that ran significantly to his Left. His role in Voter ID is causing the Left to throw vitriolic fits about him.


Ford is a black man with degrees from an historically black college  – the notion that he is interested in “suppressing the votes of African Americans” is laughable. This kind of response to Ford is indicative of the Left’s increasing demand at absolute uniformity, loyalty, and deference to the Radical Left’s social justice agenda.

There are definitely parallels here with how we as conservatives view milquetoast Republicans that seem more interested in power than principles, giving into Leftist arguments and essentially doing their work for them. (Sen. Thom Tillis all the time? Sen. Tim Scott with his recent sinking of a conservative Trump judicial nominee?)

The difference being that conservative voters demand politicians actually live up to their conservative campaign rhetoric instead of perpetuating the status quo of growing government, while the Democratic Party itself has lurched so far Left it leaves Democrats like Ford hung out to dry.

Ford, however, is undeterred.

Now, obviously Republicans tend to look kindly upon Democrats that cross the aisle, and Democrats do all they can to exploit Republicans that join their efforts. It’s a product of competitive team play in politics that won’t diminish any time soon. But the fact that it takes courage for a Democrat to occupy the center and decide individual issues on individual merit is saying something.

Of course, the ‘centrist’ term merely averages out many different positions on different issues, some on the Left and some on the Right. On this issue in particular, Ford falls on the Right; on others he falls on the Left. It certainly marks an ability for independent thinking, but not necessarily a cohesive political philosophy.

That’s because nothing is static in politics when it comes to the basic direction of policy positions. There is a slope on either side of an issue; you’re either sliding toward one end or the other. Being a ‘Centrist’ is, therefore, a balancing act that is hard to maintain. The accumulation of actions is moving you one way or another.

Thus, occupying the ‘Center’ risks eventually moving away from your base of support. Ford found that out in the primary. As mentioned earlier, though, he had a lot of help from a Party that has taken a leap to the Left.

Still, we should be glad that some Democrats with common sense (meaning they agree with us) still exist. There are right and wrong answers to political questions when weighed against indelible principles of Individual Rights and limited government, and politicians like Ford let us know that the ‘other side’ is not completely blind to that. The fact that he is being attacked so much from his own party, on the other hand, is a less welcome sign.

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