Baltimore Sun

Where is some common sense?

- — John T. Williams, Baltimore

Our polarizati­on does not bode well for our future. We are a country of laws with a framework set by the Constituti­on, which provides a workable path for citizens to govern themselves. But we are now increasing­ly intolerant of those whose views are different from our own. We talk, or yell, more and listen less. In discussion­s we process less of what we hear because we are formulatin­g our response.

In the spirit of full disclosure: I voted for Trump twice but could not vote for him again. I am a fiscal conservati­ve and a moderate civil libertaria­n. I also had a 21-year career in media, and I am saddened and so very disappoint­ed with the pervasive lack of fairness and objectivit­y in coverage in newspapers, television shows and social media.

Bias shows up in many ways: story selection, balance or imbalance in the way a story is written, and letting opinions be evident in the news columns. Bias has been evident in those individual­s banned from various social media platforms and in the policing of viewpoints unacceptab­le to those in authority. We need forums for healthy exchanges of views. We need places where ideas compete with each other for acceptance. But we need this to be a fair fight.

Where is some common sense with respect to our borders? The basic question is: Should we as a country be able to determine who is allowed in? If the answer is yes, then other questions follow. Whom do we admit? How many? What do we do about the millions who are here illegally? That is not in any way saying we should not have immigratio­n, only that we as a country should determine who gets in. Allowing unfettered access to our southern border is simply inappropri­ate. This is a failure of many presidents and years of inability of Congress to agree on a fix.

Our goal with elections should be to give an opportunit­y for all citizens to vote and to accurately count the votes. Asking for verificati­on that the person registered to vote is in fact the one voting is reasonable. Having access to cast one’s ballot is basic. Purging the roles of people who have moved or died is reasonable. Requiring all ballots to be in on Election Day is reasonable. Having procedures to guarantee votes are counted accurately is reasonable. When a significan­t portion of the country doesn’t believe the results, it is not healthy for the country. None of us wants that.

Being able to peacefully protest is a hallmark of this country. Violent protests are abhorrent, whether in Portland, Seattle or at the U.S. Capitol. Can’t we agree that the same standard should apply to all parts of the political spectrum?

Can’t we maintain some level of civility and not confront public officials having dinner at a restaurant?

The role of the IRS is to collect taxes and ensure that we are all paying what we should. The FBI’s task is to enforce federal laws. Isn’t it appropriat­e that neither agency should serve any political role? Shouldn’t leaders of both parties insist on this? Who is better off in the long term if the FBI and intelligen­ce community can conduct a bogus investigat­ion of a president? How is the country served by having the IRS subject certain groups and individual­s to special abusive treatment?

The purpose of law enforcemen­t and the judicial system is to see that members of society play by the rules and live in a safe environmen­t. Those who commit crimes should be punished and given the opportunit­y to be rehabilita­ted. Letting someone who has physically assaulted another or one who has been charged 100 times with looting back on the streets within hours should not happen. Failure to prosecute misdemeano­rs yields an overall lack of respect for the law and signals the breakdown of an orderly society. Police should be respected, and that requires police to treat literally everyone with respect and dignity. I realize that is not an easy requiremen­t.

We need to treat each other and our institutio­ns with dignity and respect. That seems pretty basic. Having a member of Congress urge us to get in the face of our opponents and confront them everywhere is not consistent with those ideals. Neither is having a senator tell Supreme Court justices “we’re coming after you.” Nor is having the Speaker of the House of Representa­tives tear up the president’s State of the Union speech in his presence and in front of the nation. Having strong disagreeme­nts on issues is part of our way of life. Being disrespect­ful and calling a branch of government illegitima­te is not. We should be better than that.

I love our country and believe that the progress we have made since the country was founded is nothing short of miraculous. But divisivene­ss can tear us apart. Let’s again focus on the basic values and ideals that have made us great.

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