‘We just want to fight with each other’

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Nancy McFarlane is my mayor. She has led Raleigh through explosive growth, including a new train station, the purchase of Dix Park, promotion of Raleigh as an arts scene and tourist destination and recognition on many “best of” lists. Why is she stepping down?

It’s not because of age, health, scandal or the traditional mantra of “spending more time with my family.” She’s just fed up. McFarlane is tired of a political climate that has gotten more partisan, more divisive and more hate-filled since she entered politics in 2007. “We used to fight together for the things we cared about,” McFarlane said. “Now it just seems like we fight with each other.”

I can hear the chorus responding, “That’s what she asked for when she ran for public office,” “It comes with the territory,” or even, “She deserves it.” Really?

I won’t for one minute claim that Nancy McFarlane has been right in every instance on every issue; however, she’s been a pretty darn good mayor and has represented our city well. But nobody deserves to be treated uncivilly or disrespectfully, no matter how much we disagree with them.

People complain that not enough “good people” run for public office anymore. Is there any wonder why? Would you subject yourself to this kind of ugliness? God help whomever takes her place.

Mayor Nancy says we need a reset. Indeed. How low do we have to sink before there is a turnaround? How much name calling, partisan politics or nasty behavior will we tolerate before we cry “ENOUGH?”

We get it. Politics can be and often is a contact sport, but nobody appears to have filters anymore, especially on social media sites. People feel at liberty to say anything that pops in their heads, to release for all the anger, resentment and ugliness they have inside. And it would be one thing if it were just public officials about whom they vented.

My wife and I were in a sandwich shop the other day. The customer’s sandwich order was delivered wrong and this woman proceeded to berate and spew anger at the person behind the counter. We were sitting many feet away and could hear her raging. The offer to replace her order wasn’t sufficient. This person just wanted to rant; anyone in her path was going to be the subject of her wrath. As we were leaving, we commented to the owner that we had heard the episode and wondered if this was common. The owner told us it was harder and harder to be in business serving the public.

We understand that this is a stressful world, that it moves at an ever-faster pace and all the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier and better has often had the opposite effect. But we also remember reading that during the Great Depression, desperate times when many had little to eat and no place to stay the night, that we were a more genteel and caring people. Even in our worst times we exhibited brotherly love and helped others as we could.

Would that we could stop fighting with and started once more to treat others with the respect they deserve, the same respect we want for ourselves.

Tom Campbell is former assistant N.C. state treasruer and is creator/host of “N.C. Spin,” a weekly statewide television discussion of North Carolina issues that airs on UNC-TV . Contact him at www.ncspin.com.

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