For the past 22+ years I have tried to be Switzerland (neutral) in producing and moderating a statewide TV talk show, as well as writing newspaper columns. My conscience won't let me do it anymore.
I have loved politics since I first started covering it back in the 1960s, and I know the good and the bad of it. My dad was a legislator and I remember well when our family radio station lost a significant percentage of our advertising revenue after he took a stand that was best for his constituents instead of for our business. My daily radio editorials rankled doctors to suggest that my family might not get proper medical care after I criticized them. The Ku Klux Klan threatened to burn a cross in front of my radio station when I spoke against racism.
Later, I served as a high-ranking official in a cabinet level agency of state government. I saw firsthand politicians who were public servants and some who weren't. I saw the inner workings of the legislature, the executive branch, state employees and how they interfaced with businesses, special interests, political parties and the public.
My television show was based on the premise that the public deserved to get in-depth discussion on significant issues often overlooked by traditional media and that this discussion should include voices from more than one political perspective. I have been frequently criticized by those on the left or right because a particular discussion didn't meet their approval. After 18 years on the air my show was cancelled because I insisted on having panelists representing the right as well as the left. Station management didn't want this. The show was cancelled again when it was critical of members of the UNC Board of Governors who had breached their ethical and missional responsibilities.
All this is to say that I have the experience, the bruises and the perspective to speak to our situation today. I think I have earned my creds.
I have friends, good friends, who are stalwart supporters of Donald Trump. I have tried but cannot understand how people I have admired can continue to back Trump. Some of our presidents have been better than others, but none have been so vile, so insensitive, so unwilling to put the nation's interests above his own. His supporters usually say they don't like his tweets or his caustic personality but like things he has done. What are they, I ask because I would genuinely like to know?
Well, there's the economy, they say. Before the COVID we were doing great. They must base this mostly on the stock market, because honest evaluation will say Trump inherited a recovery from Obama. Trump has the worst job losses of any president. The unemployment rate is 10 percentage points higher than when he took office. The Federal debt burden hasn't been so high since World War II. The gap between the shrinking middle class and the rich has grown, poverty is increasing, and housing prices are rising exponentially faster than wages. True, some of this is due to the virus, but Trump has done little to fix these problems except boast about what a great job he is doing.
They point to all the judges he is appointing to correct what they believe is a leftward tilt on the bench. Trump has appointed 159 to the federal bench for lifetime appointments, more than any president in recent history. Why has he appointed so many? Senate Leader Mitch McConnell sat on appointments made by Barack Obama and refused to hold hearings on them, most notably a Supreme Court nomination just before the 2016 election. That left plenty of vacancies for Trump. McConnell's Republican Senate gladly passed them along. If that's not court packing please define it for me.
Well, they say they like the rules and regulations he has removed to make government work better. I admit to not knowing all that has been done, but I can say that he has turned over federal agencies to lobbyists and former business officials. Begin by looking at the National Weather Service, the US Postal Service and go deeper to see the anti-consumer protections removed.
I do not think our country can stand another four years of Trump's tearing us apart, his incivility, racism, narcissism, misogyny, bullying and self-centered behavior. Joe Biden may not be the best presidential candidate ever fielded, but he is decent and will restore some sense of who we are and what this country has stood for. He has to be better than what we've got.
I have tried hard not to use the privilege of voice that has been given me, but I can't be Switzerland anymore. I can't keep quiet any longer. Trump has to go for the sake of our nation.
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 Fridays at 7:30pm, Sundays 12:30pm and UNC North Carolina Channel Fridays at 10:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm and Sundays at 10:00am
. Contact Tom at NC Spin.