News-Star: Opinion

Please don’t stereotype me

I am a Republican, and I’m OK with same-sex couples marrying.

That statement will surprise no one who knows me. I write it instead for those people who think they know me – the people who state as fact that all Republicans hate the following: homosexuals, old people, immigrants, the poor, public schools.

But it’s simply not true, and frankly, I’m tired of being stereotyped.

If you want to know Scott Bolejack, the Republican, here’s what you need to know:

•  I think two consenting adults should be allowed to marry no matter their sexual orientation; if that’s wrong, I’d rather God be the judge, not the state.

•  I love old people, so much so that I want to be an old person someday. So no, I don’t want to remove the safety nets of Social Security and Medicare that so many older adults rely on. But I also want those safety nets to be there for my daughter if she needs them one day, and at their present rates of revenue and spending, I’m afraid they won’t be. So yes, I think reform is in order.

•  I believe in a path to citizenship for hardworking people who are in this country illegally. That’s partly a practical matter, which is to say it would be impractical to try to round up and deport the more than 11 million people believed to be here illegally. It’s also a policy matter: Congress needs to allow more people into this country legally because employers need those people, whether they be day laborers or engineers.

•  Lord knows I don’t hate poor people. Both of my parents grew up poor; I was maybe 8 or 9 before the house my dad grew up got indoor plumbing. But the definition of poor is getting broader, and in any event, I don’t know that giving poor people someone else’s money does much good for their long-term prospects. I prefer giving the poor a leg up instead of a handout. I certainly benefited from the leg up that Head Start gave me before I started public school.

•  I never attended anything but a public school. The same is true for my wife, now a public school librarian, and my daughter, who wants to be a public school teacher. But many public schools are failing, and if the answer were truly more money, then Washington, D.C., would have the nation’s best public schools; it doesn’t. I think it is especially tragic that some groups, by opposing vouchers, want to keep the poorest of North Carolina children in the worst of the state’s public schools.

It is true that I don’t hate rich people; I don’t begrudge them their wealth. But neither do I expect them to care for me and mine. I would much rather the Bolejacks take care of themselves. And I’ll concede that Bill Gates is more likely to create a job than I am, so I don’t want to discourage him from doing so through onerous taxes and regulations.

The truth of the matter is that while many of us identify with a particular political philosophy, few of us march in lockstep with that philosophy. In my case, gay marriage is just one issue in which I part company with many conservatives.

I suspect it’s similarly true that many liberals sometimes stray from orthodoxy. So do me favor: Don’t stereotype me, and I want paint you with a broad brush either.

Bring pack the party label

?When it comes to electing judges, I must confess that I miss the party label.

Granted, the party label didn’t tell me a great deal about a judicial candidate, but to be honest, it often told me enough, which I found invaluable, especially when the ballot was full of statewide judicial races that garnered little publicity.

Since North Carolina moved to nonpartisan election of judges, I haven’t always voted in every judicial race on the ballot. I have cast my ballot in District Court and Superior Court races, because I know those folks, and we’ve written stories about them. But Court of Appeals and Supreme Court? If I haven’t had time to research the candidates, I haven’t voted. I don’t want to help elect someone who would run roughshod over the constitution.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect those people who want to appoint rather than elect judges are happy that I don’t vote in all of the races. Those folks can use low vote totals to argue that it would be wiser to allow a commission to appoint North Carolina judges.

Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. If I don’t like the way a judge handles my case, or a case of statewide importance, I want to be able to show my displeasure at the ballot box. An appointed judge is too far removed from accountability.

Instead, I wish North Carolina would return to electing judges by party. I know that’s the politically incorrect thing to say; I know an enlightened person should say that politics has no place in the courtroom.

That might be enlightened, but it’s also naïve. If politics played no role in judicial opinions, U.S. senators would not spar over Supreme Court nominees. If politics played no role in North Carolina’s higher courts, interest groups and political parties would not spend huge sums of money telling me which judicial candidates to vote for.

Obviously, politics does play a role in the courts. So why not let voters know which party a candidate belongs to?