RALEIGH — And so it begins again. Filing is over, and the 2014 election cycle is off and running.
North Carolinians will elect a U.S. senator and 13 U.S. representatives to serve in Washington. We will elect 50 state senators and 120 state representatives to the North Carolina General Assembly.
The elections for the chief justice and three other justices to the N.C. Supreme Court, along with the elections of three members of the N.C. Court of Appeals, are important as well. District attorneys will be elected to more than 30 districts, and dozens of Superior and District Court judges will be chosen to serve.
In addition, all 100 counties will hold elections for county commissions, or school boards, or both.
Who we elect to these offices and the leadership they provide will affect our lives every day, in ways many of us probably don’t realize. Decisions made by elected officials will help or hinder a fragile economy; recovery is at risk.
And as with elections since 1788, freedom is at stake. The underlying theme in all these races will be economic freedom. From Obamacare to tax reform to job creation to regulations to educating the work force — everything is about the economy.
Is government the answer, or should individuals have the freedom to choose? Whether it’s health care, education, how much money remains with those who earn it and how much is provided to those who need help — should the government take charge, or should individuals be allowed to make decisions for themselves?
Candidates for federal office will have to defend or amend Obamacare and find solutions for the escalating costs of health care. They will have to figure out how to minimize the crushing blow of an employer mandate on the business community. They’ll have to choose how much of our health care system is dictated by government and how much is left under individual choice and control.
Federal candidates will offer solutions to the country’s growing debt, to a badly needed but undocumented work force, and to a central government that is dysfunctional. The major question for them will be: Should the federal government be everything to everyone, or should it provide a platform for freedom allowing individuals to choose who they want to be?
Can individuals be left free to create wealth that supports a vibrant economy, or, instead, should government try to sustain the economy through transfers of wealth?
Candidates for the General Assembly will answer questions about school choice, taxes, and spending. Should parents be free to choose the best options for their children? Should poor students have the same opportunities as their wealthier classmates?
Is a simpler, fairer, more equitable tax system that allows families the freedom to keep and choose how to spend more of their money better than paying more to the government and getting less? Is a state government obligated to provide transparent and honest accounting of where tax dollars are spent? Isn’t the best way out of poverty a job?
In many ways, the outcome of North Carolina’s judicial races may have the greatest impact on life in our state. The Supreme Court could make decisions on the voter identification requirement, redistricting, school choice, the death penalty, property rights, and more.
Who those judges are and the principles that drive their decisions are critical to the preservation of freedom in North Carolina. A healthy respect for and strict adherence to the North Carolina Constitution provide our only assurance that the judicial branch of state government will protect our freedom.
Local government candidates will be answering questions about public transportation, school construction costs, land use, zoning, smart growth, debt, and transparent budgeting.
School boards should ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively on classroom instruction and focus on meeting the educational needs of children, families, and communities; they also should encourage collaboration among all schools in their district, including charter, private, and traditional pubic schools. Nor should they antagonize parents who choose to educate their children at home.
The issues center on the economy, but the election is about freedom. Every issue should be put to this test: Does it restrict or promote freedom? Every candidate should be committed to preserving freedom and every voter to understanding what is at risk.
This election is about freedom. We are about to entrust new leaders with our freedom. Vote like it matters.