Many years ago, an elderly woman who appeared to be disoriented was being evaluated by a local physician. He asked her a series of questions to determine her lucidity. One question was whether or not she was planning on voting in a pending election.
“Of course,’’ the woman said incredulously. “I always vote.”
A president was to be elected, so the doctor asked the woman to name the two candidates.
“Oh, I don’t know their names,’’ she said.
“So how will you know for whom to vote?” the doctor asked.
“Oh, they will tell me,’’ she said.
That is the relentless tide that has beat back any attempt by Republicans to become relevant on the local political scene, in a county where four out of five voters call themselves Democrats, straight-ticket voting is championed, and rides to the poll sites are rewarded with a vote for the candidate who paid the fare.
Which makes noteworthy the historic Nov. 2 election of two Republicans to local offices — David Edge, who will take a seat on the county Board of Commissioners on Monday, and G.L. Pridgen, who will become a member of the state House next month. Both owe their victories in part to the Robeson County Republican Party, which has finally made some headway against that decades-old tide while also benefiting from the national angst that has so many people craving for a cup of tea.
But Edge and Pridgen’s victories are made less remarkable upon further review. It simply is not true that the Republican Party is out of step with most Robesonians on a majority of the issues, particularly on the social spectrum. On school prayer, gun ownership, the death penalty, abortion and gay marriage, Robesonians line up with Republicans.
But Robesonians, so many of whom depend on welfare, trust the Democrats more to take from the rich and give to the poor.
This will be read as an endorsement of the local Republican Party, when in fact it is not. Rather, it is a celebration that Robeson County, while not having yet kicked in the door to a two-party system, at least is on the doorstep.
Edge and Pridgen’s victories don’t guarantee future GOP successes because the road can always narrow. But it does make more likely that voters will register as Republicans, not as closet Democrats, and that local candidates will dare to have an “R” affixed beside their names in November.
If that day arrives, then Robeson County voters will benefit by having choices beyond the May primary and through the General Election. The option of voting for somebody else will forever by the best way to keep honest a politician.