Be like Jeff Jackson

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

It’s been four months since COVID-19 changed the daily lives of Americans. In those four months, there have been many editorials written about the virus, social distance, case counts and more. There have been more written about racial unrest that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers.

Everywhere one looks, it seems as though the divisions between Americans are growing, whether it’s about policies enacted to stop the spread of COVID-19 or how protests for racial justice are being dealt with.

This editorial is about politics, but not the kind that sow division.

Some may have heard about a North Carolina senator named Jeff Jackson. Others may not have, because he represents Charlotte. He’s a Democrat currently serving his third term.

Now, take the previous two sentences, and some readers might already have decided they do not want to read about a Democrat who represents an urban area because there’s no common ground.

That would be false. There is common ground. It’s called humanity.

Jackson is very present on social media and, over the last several months, has been regularly posting information about the many issues of today, straight from the senate floor. He’s gained many followers for his no-nonsense, get-the-information-out-there approach. On Monday morning, however, he posted something a little different.

“I know I’m in the middle of a re-election campaign. But in each of my campaigns, I’ve found a moment to hit pause and set politics aside. So let me just say: I think my opponent is a good person, a wonderful parent and has led an admirable life. Just being honest.”

It make take a couple of readings before the import of those words truly sinks in. In four sentences, Jackson breaks through the walls of usually divisive politics and not only acknowledges his political opponent’s humanity, but reinforces his own, as well. For many, in the 10 seconds it takes to read the statement, it no longer matters that Jackson is a Democrat from Charlotte; it doesn’t matter that he’s a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a former prosecutor in Gaston County. What matters is that he’s human, and able to put politics aside and acknowledge the admirable qualities of someone with whom he disagrees.

This is the kind of humanity we lack in today’s politics — on both sides of the aisle. This country needs more politicians to build bridges over the enormous political division in this country, politicians who are unafraid to acknowledge the humanity of the “other side.”

This country needs all of us to do it too.