Once again North Carolina made national news and once again it wasn’t favorable. For a while it appeared our state was ready to rid itself of all the negative publicity, economic loss and rancor associated with HB2, but at the end of the day all we saw was frustration, divisiveness and inaction instead of the repeal of the nightmare that has impacted our state.
Few can deny that the fallout associated with the Charlotte ordinance and HB2 has cost us more than just the economic losses we’ve suffered. This issue has called into question who we are as a state, how we treat others different from ourselves and how we make decisions. We’ve seen the ugly side of all sides, the deep divisions within families, communities and political parties. Our image is tarnished and our morale has plummeted.
At this moment it would be easy to join in the finger pointing and partisan spin coming from all sides but that serves no positive purpose. Recent developments have not shown elected officials at their finest, but it is also true that the people we elect are no better and no worse than those they represent. Wednesday’s special session only amplified the political climate in which we find ourselves, an atmosphere where goodwill, honest, civil discussion and trust are sacrificed on the altar of wanting to prevail more than doing what is best for the state. It is not a pretty picture.
There are big issues facing us as we begin 2017. Many are still homeless and without restoration as a result of Hurricane Matthew and the western wildfires. North Carolina has enjoyed a recovery from the Great Recession but too many, especially in rural regions, haven’t seen the benefits. Public education has made some good gains but too many of our young people aren’t getting the education they need to obtain and hold good jobs. Too many of us suffer from physical and mental health problems. Our public infrastructure, especially our highways, desperately needs improvements.
Yes, we are disappointed that our legislature was unable to repeal HB2, but disappointment needn’t lead to despair. We are where we are. The HB2 discussion isn’t over, merely postponed. Now we must do some soul-searching to determine where we want to go and how to get there and time off during holiday might provide the opportunity to open our hearts and minds for understanding others’ positions and to earnestly seek compromise that will put this chapter of our history behind us.
We’ve always believed we were a blessed state, filled with wonderful natural resources, but also filled with a people who genuinely care about others and want to do what is right. I refuse to believe we choose to hate, to ridicule, to find fault and place blame over choosing harmony, unity and the common good. Our state has a better face than what we have shown recently. We genuinely hope that the New Year will bring with it a new resolve to show our better selves and put behind us the ugliness we too often experienced in 2016.
Tom Campbell is the Executive Producer and Moderator of NC Spin.