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Letters to the Herald

We deserve civility in political discourse


On Nov. 17, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censor Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for posting an animated video depicting him physically assaulting members of the opposing party.
Such an act is rarely used and significant in its severity. But my concern is not about Paul Gosar; it is what he represents, because his actions are a symptom of a far greater issue that is dividing us as a people in an unprecedented way.
Many older Americans who lived through the mid-century have witnessed extraordinary reversals of perspective, policy, and social unity.
I can recall my grandmother recounting to me on several occasions that most households of her younger years hung a picture of President Roosevelt in a place of honor. This was done regardless of political affiliation because that was part of being an American. Such an act seems a far-flung concept in our contemporary political environment.
That was a time in which the fabric of our nation was far more unified and cohesive even in the face of disagreements over policy. And understandably my grandmother’s generation is not eager to normalize or accept the division that is so prevalent today.
But to many younger Americans deep division, isolation, and political polarization is normal because that is the only America they know. We would do well to remember that today’s “normal” is anything but.

We must ask ourselves exactly what we’re willing to accept as a people? Are we willing to accept federally elected members of Congress inciting violence against their colleagues in Washington, which as we’re aware can so easily trickle down and influence others to engage in dangerous behavior?
That would not be acceptable in a workplace, home or church – and regardless of party or political affiliation we should resoundingly decry these actions.
As Americans there is far more that unites than divides us. We must strive for unity and purpose in our national discourse, and that starts with basic civility and respect of one another and demanding our elected representatives embody those same ideals.
When we perceive one another as enemies, rather than fellow Americans who disagree on certain issues, we poison and weaken our democracy for future generations. Unity begins with our actions and asking others to embody the respect we afford them.
Joseph Vitella, Buckingham