Tomorrow's editorial today:
To: Erskine Bowles
We hear you’re thinking hard about whether to run for governor of North Carolina.
We fully understand your ambivalence. Politics is a snake pit, and you might think you have better things to do than subject yourself to that venom. You’ve run for the U.S. Senate twice in North Carolina and lost both times, and you were subjected to negative advertising that attacked your reputation. Besides, you are 66, you’ve been working hard for more than four decades, and you’ve earned a little downtime with your kids and grandkids.
We also understand the tug you’re feeling. That tug to public service. A calling, instilled in you since you were a boy, of using your talents to give back to the community. We know that as a Greensboro native who has spent much of his life in North Carolina, you love this state, and leading it to its potential is a high calling indeed.
Think about what North Carolina needs right now, and whether your strengths and experience prepare you to tackle those needs:
Jobs. With a stubbornly high unemployment rate, this must be a governor’s top priority. It will require more than incentives to land this or that project. It will require someone who knows how to create and sustain an environment that attracts companies for the long haul and boosts small businesses.
A responsible state budget that is balanced both in an accounting sense and in its priorities. North Carolina needs to make smart investments while being cognizant of the tax burden residents face in a sluggish economy. It needs to reform its outdated tax code and make sure that its spending, especially on education but throughout state government, is neither short-sighted nor wasteful. That will demand someone who understands how to balance a budget.
A governor who can work constructively with, but also serve as a check on, an active Republican legislature. That calls for someone who has shown the ability to work across the aisle.
A strong university system. Maintaining the University of North Carolina system as one of the nation’s best requires state leaders who understand its history, its mission and the importance of stout public support.
Clear-eyed leadership beholden to no one ideology or set of special interests.
Know anyone who might qualify?
You spent decades in private business. You led the Small Business Administration. You were the White House Chief of Staff, and as a Democrat worked with Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich to produce the last balanced budget America has seen. You were the president of the UNC system. You co-chaired a national deficit panel, the Bowles-Simpson commission, that was unafraid to both raise taxes and cut spending, angering partisans on all sides.
Even if you run, we don’t know yet who will emerge as the strongest candidate for governor. It’s a long campaign. But that campaign should offer voters strong choices and candidates who can raise the level of discourse.
Religious or not, many people of great talent feel the admonition from the gospel of Luke: To whom much is given, much shall be required. In momentous times, people of great talent step up to serve.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Tomorrow's editorial today: