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The question that challenges many of my loved ones and me since the 2016 presidential election is: Should I stay connected to those on the opposite end of the political spectrum?
While this question has likely been debated for centuries, it has not felt more consequential in my lifetime. The stakes of our political choices seem to threaten the very survival of our society.
I wasn’t surprised when one of my politically savvy loved ones made the case to cut ties with those who support opposing ideologies. I was more than surprised when my friend who describes herself as a bleeding heart concurred.
It was during the COVID pandemic that I heard a piece of advice that influenced my perspective: Don’t judge people by what they believe, but by what they do.
This philosophy resonated with me because I’d witnessed remarkable grace-giving kindness from someone who’d voted for the candidate I feared (and still do). Some might argue her vote — the action she took — is reason enough to exclude her from my life. And I understand that reasoning on a practical level.
But her vote revealed only her political stance, not her full character. Her act of graciousness had shown me her humanity. And if it’s humanity we’re trying to preserve, what benefit comes from shutting each other out?
While some politicians on both sides of the divide continue to sow division, perhaps we ordinary people can keep the doors open in the hope of finding common ground.
Cory Gideon Gunderson, Lakeville
Pamela Paul’s opinion piece hit the nail on the head on one of the more discouraging developments in our current politics, the adoption of right-wing world views by left-wing ideologues (“If only progressives were more liberal … ” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 20). By that I mean, as stated by Paul, intolerance and small mindedness. I have always thought of those who hold so-called progressive views to be a mirror image of Republican Freedom Caucus. They are true believers that they — and only they — hold the answers to the country’s problems, which, of course, makes compromise with the less enlightened very difficult. The big difference is that the Democrats, to their credit — unlike the Republicans — have managed to keep their goofs far away from the levers of power and from becoming the voice of the party. In a sense, they let them howl at the moon all they want while the adults try to govern the country. But suddenly the Democrats are seemingly losing that control.
As an old white guy who leans left, I have some sympathy for many of the espoused goals of the progressives and even with some on the right. However, like Paul, I draw the line at censoring speech that we disagree with and insisting on breaking us down into angry little groups, “identitarian” or not. Those are things the right wing — which took over the Republican Party — has perfected and that have caused so much damage in the last several years. To see the Democrats make the same mistake is both discouraging and maddening.
Hope is not a strategy, but it’s all we’ve got. Since we’re stuck with our crappy two-party system, let’s hope the adults — of both — manage to take back control of the voice and actions of their parties.
D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis
President Joe Biden celebrated his 81st birthday on Nov. 20, while the Star Tribune ran an article titled “Biden’s birthday highlights his big liability.” I have no doubt that Biden is capable of another four years of effective leadership despite his age. However, as the article states, growing numbers in the voting public have concerns over his age, according to recent polls.
Unfortunately, the tradition within the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party as well, is to nominate the incumbent for a second term, regardless of just about anything. Traditions like this run deep and very few are willing to rock the boat, except people like U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who isn’t afraid to go boldly ahead with a campaign that others are simply afraid to wage. It’s an uphill battle that could be costly to his political future since his campaign sends the message that he’s not a team player. In my opinion, he deserves credit for seeing the bigger picture.
The Democratic Party needs to wake up and pay serious attention to the polls if they truly want to avoid another four years of Donald Trump. Biden may be capable of another four years of the presidency, but public perception seems to say otherwise, and perception is powerful when it comes to voting.
Patrick Bloomfield, Chisholm, Minn.
The hunt for deer this year was a disappointment. The collapsed deer population due to consecutive hard-snow years hurt. Furthermore, current natural resource management driven by forest management practices has broken up large deer wintering habitats where both wolves and deer could coexist. Deer in the smaller wintering areas are now easily driven out into the barren clear-cuts that lack adequate protection.
The woods were silent. I’ve hunted the same woods in northeast Itasca County for over 60 years. Our stand hunting methods are different from many others because the eight of us are all in the field by dawn and don’t return until dark. This year we put in 318 hours in stands watching for deer and sighted several wolves, a bull moose, a pine marten, eight does and two bucks. For the last 40 years, I have kept a diary of our daily sightings and harvests.
But what was most troubling was the absence of small birds. Normally the lack of deer sightings is offset by the other wildlife — many small birds, fishers, otters, weasels, wolves, squirrels, pine martens and even a wolverine. Something is frighteningly wrong, though. There was a virtual absence of native wintering birds such as blackcap chickadees, rose- and white-breasted nuthatches, gray and blue jays, woodpeckers and brown creepers. Yes, the woods were dead. What is creating our silent woods? I think the focus on deer and wolves is distracting us from some real problems.
Erv Berglund, Fridley
I am extremely disappointed that the Star Tribune would publish Dennis Anderson’s misleading essay on wolves and deer (“Action needed as wolves decimate deer,” Nov. 19). His conclusion, stated boldly in the alarming headline, is that wolves decimate deer in northeastern Minnesota. How many times does this have to be disproven? His theory is based upon anecdotal evidence and hearsay as opposed to long-term scientific studies that clearly establish that the presence of wolves does not have a negative impact on the deer population. For example, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2022 Wolf Population Update reveals that from spring 2020 to spring 2021, average weighted deer density within pack-occupied wolf range increased 16%. Anderson even weakens his own argument by providing the more likely cause of fewer deer — two severe winters in a row. In this age of overwhelming dissemination of misinformation, I would advise the Star Tribune not to add to this trend.
Mark Berman, Red Wing, Minn.