Like many of you, I watched the events unfolding Wednesday afternoon in our nation’s capital with a mix of sadness, confusion, and dismay. The breach of the Capitol Building during a Constitutionally mandated session of Congress to confirm President-Elect Biden’s electoral victory was an appalling affront to the very foundations of our republic.
The NC Chamber joins business leaders and others from across North Carolina and the nation in condemning the actions of those who violently overran the halls of the United States Capitol, and we lament the chaos, injuries, and loss of life that occurred as a result. Violence should have no place in the politics of America, a nation where the peaceful transfer of presidential power has long stood as a hallmark of our ability to self-govern. These latest events provide resounding evidence that job creators must continue to stand against violence in all its forms as we seek out new pathways for constructive engagement in our social discourse.
Last year, on the eve of the election, I wrote to you encouraging North Carolina’s leaders in both the public and private spheres to embrace a mindset of mutual respect and collaboration, regardless of the electoral outcome. I make that appeal again now with increased urgency. We have all seen the fault lines developing in our social discourse in recent years. These divided mindsets now threaten to collide catastrophically if leaders on all sides of the discussion cannot commit to move beyond inflammatory rhetoric and instead embrace a public discourse grounded firmly in civility – and in the realities of the challenges we now face.
Despite the divided nature of our political discourse, I believe the people of North Carolina remain firmly united in our shared interests and values. Look beyond the scenes of chaos on your screens to what is happening in your own backyard, and you’re sure to see neighbors helping neighbors, businesses exchanging mutual support with their communities, and families caring for loved ones in times of need – and all of this regardless of the circles filled in on a ballot or the partisan affiliation next to someone’s name. As individuals and as a statewide community, we have common problems that need our attention. We have social injustices to fight, an economy to get back on track, and a pandemic to fully eradicate. All of us, no matter our politics, should feel a sense of commitment and duty to solving these shared problems and to keeping our state – and its people – safe and moving forward.
Throughout my career, I have been privileged to learn from numerous mentors and leaders who understood that the solution to shared problems could be found, more often than not, in the civil, thoughtful approach. These individuals consistently demonstrated to me that showing earnest regard for a differing opinion was not a compromising weakness – but an essential strength that could bridge the gap between opposing points of view. America was once defined by our ability to reach a governing middle that existed in the gaps between political extremes. I believe we must strive for that commonsense middle once again.
I commit to you now, on behalf of our state’s business community, that the NC Chamber under my leadership – while continuing to focus on your interests as job creators – will always work to ensure our efforts support a civil approach to pro-business advocacy that aims to grow private-sector jobs and increase economic opportunity for all North Carolinians. This civil approach is what North Carolina needs now, from all of its leaders.
We can – we will – rise not only to the enormity of this moment but to our ever-present responsibility to serve the people of this state and the businesses that employ them. North Carolina deserves nothing less.
Gary J. Salamido
President and CEO