Who’s going to step up to restore respect for North Carolina?

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PayPal’s decision to ditch its Charlotte expansion plans because of the controversy over House Bill 2 has sparked angry responses from state Republican lawmakers. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger suggests the “liberal media” has aided Democratic politicians, gay rights groups and the “political correctness mob” to trash the reputation of the city and state.

At least that statement shows there is universal agreement that North Carolina’s brand has been damaged by this debacle, no matter who one blames. We can also agree it is past time for all parties to cut the rhetoric and devise a solution that reflects North Carolina’s image as a moderate, business-oriented state open to people of all colors, faiths and political leanings. It should be a source of pride that we are a purple state that welcomes all comers.

A few things we’ve learned as this mess drags on:

Surely Gov. McCrory regrets not taking more time to consider HB2 before he signed the bill, hours after it passed the legislature. A good night’s sleep and a few phone calls to key people might have produced a better result.

Everything on this issue will have to be viewed through the prism of the divisive McCrory vs. Roy Cooper election, which is still seven long months away. Most know that those two guys agree on far more than they disagree — both are moderate politicians who love their state. But in our gerrymandered political environment, they have to cater to their polarized bases.

PayPal and other companies may be hypocrites in basing corporate decisions on the ethics topic of the day: Why does the company sell its products in China and other nations that take much harsher measures towards the LGBT community than HB2?

But PayPal and other companies also have every right to take principled stands, particularly a desire to avoid policies that discriminate against their employees. Few complained in the days when local businessmen controlled communities instead of multinational corporations. The town fathers promoted both the good — noble civic causes — and the bad: the shameful Jim Crow rules. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman is a sincere person who can teach us a lot, beyond the fact that he leads an iconic company valued at more than $46 billion.

Bashing the media has worked politically in North Carolina for generations. That is sad. It’s true that some of the state’s most powerful media companies have offered liberal editorial commentary for at least 30 years and have been owned by Democratic-leaning families, including the Daniels and Goodmons. But those families and their editorialists also have been North Carolina’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders, and their journalists have made life hellish for many Democratic politicians. (Just ask Jim Black, Mike Easley, Jimmy Green, Wendell Murphy, R.C. Soles etc.). To accuse the “media” of liberal bias in 2016, given the impact of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Civitas Institute and other conservative-leaning entities is purely a political stunt.

The concept of state government controlling most aspects of local government is outdated. If Charlotte wants to take a different stance on issues than Monroe or Goldsboro, that should be applauded instead of rejected. It’s much easier for the people’s voice to be heard at the local level than statewide or nationally.

We can’t wait to see how soon McCrory, Cooper, Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest resolve this debacle.

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