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A line from a recent article by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik reminds me of the destructive Hatfield-McCoy feud that passes today for American democracy: “It is not a question of two sides warring over beliefs, but of two sides for whom war has become the belief.” This comment especially fits the far right, who are seeking post-Obama blood and revenge above all else. Gutting the Affordable Care Act, at the expense of millions of people and with no better replacement in sight, is but one example. In this context, all values, morals and ethics are contingent, which allowed a rogue FBI and a gangster Russian oligarch to hijack the November presidential election and many Americans hardly blinked.

Gopnik referred to warring 16th century Catholic-Protestant France, but Americans are similarly and scarily fixated on political division and the imagined parallel universes of the right and left, rather than on our significant commonalities. In Montana, a big deal is made of the differences between the so-called rural right and urban left. This is pure fiction because we all are: economically codependent; intimately connected demographically and culturally; and buffeted by the same global economy. So it is infuriating that this false narrative is perpetuated through the inanity of talk radio, reality TV, the 24-hour news cycle, Twitter and no-nothings. Look no further than our president-elect.

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Will sensibility prevail only when a major crisis arises, like 9/11? Alas, this may be the only way that we will actually be freed to listen and empathize with each other again. For the sake of our nation, all politicians and we must appeal to our better angels; give a swift, hard boot to destructive party warfare, political blood sport, false tropes and plain meanness; and quit bleeding the nation dry of its common decency, vitality and integrity.

-- Carl Davis, Missoula

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