Turn on CNN, MSNBC or other cable outlets and you become convinced that Donald Trump wakes up every morning trying to figure out how to make Democrats angry and how he can disrupt, spread mayhem and angst to as many as are breathing. Should you listen to Rush, dial in Fox, Breitbart News or any of the right-wing outlets you hear about this sainted man who is being reviled and persecuted in his quest to make our nation safe and prosperous, while dealing with dirty, dastardly Democrats and a news media that wants nothing more than to slander him out of office.
Could both be true or are at least two realities co-existing? And where are the great unwashed, those moderates who genuinely want to figure out which parts of these two narratives could be right and which parts are wrong?
In this time of COVID-19 crisis there are some who claim we are all in the same boat, but as a Facebook friend reminded me, that’s obviously not true. We are, however, all in the same storm and anyone experienced in storm crisis situations knows the number one requisite is to remain calm.
For us in North Carolina that means we need to tone down all the protests, charges and counter charges about whether to ease restrictions or even pose more of them. They only divide us further. Yes, we have constitutionally guaranteed rights, but those rights don’t include one person endangering the life of another. This is a time that demands less emotion and more rational reasoning with each other.
Here are some givens: Each of us has been impacted by this virus and lost jobs, people and investments. It has been painful and we can’t measure the total loss because fewer than one percent of our population has been tested. Every sign indicates this virus is with us until a vaccine can be developed and produced. Life has changed and we won’t return to life exactly as it was before the coronavirus.
The task of our leaders is two-fold. How does our state restart its economy and put people to work while at the same time guarding the health of 10 million citizens? Each of us likely has our own opinions about how to accomplish both goals, but our governor and leaders can’t use opinions to make decisions. Prudent leadership would dictate that instead of throwing open the doors and allowing us to proceed as if COVID-19 never happened is neither practical nor a good approach. Prudence dictates we ease into relaxations.
We are eager to ease restrictions imposed on us, but we also recognize that success is dependent on how responsibly we behave. If we ignore social distancing, congregate in large crowds and forget hand washing and hygiene practices this ugly COVID-19 might rage back and require tighter restrictions. We don’t want to go back there.
Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV main channel.