The right to free speech is one that is a core value of our civilization. The right to vote, another value that defines our civilization apart from the others around the globe. We are not beholden to a king, church, or ideology. This was by design, not by chance. On Jan. 6, 2021, we have seen a test of those values.

Before you judge my opinion I will let you know this: I believe gun ownership should be a personal choice with some regulation, I do not believe in state ownership of industry, I am pro-choice, I support universal health care. I am about as middle of the road as one can get. I do not belong to a party by choice, I choose my own platform and vote based on my values, not the ones told by others.

Today I am shocked to see what has happened to our nation. The idea that this riot was free speech passed the point of no return with the destruction of a symbol of our freedom. Why did it have to come to this? How can we call ourselves a nation, a unified people, when we can blatantly disregard the founding principles that supposedly unite us? I do not agree with much of Vice President Pence’s platform or philosophy, but I will give the man credit when credit is due: Thank you for standing up to the wolves at the door and protect the flock. You may have just preserved the Union, and for that I commend you.

I ask you this folks: What now? We just faced a fascist coup and that is a fact. There was an attempt to use brute force to suppress the free and open debate of our duly elected representatives. We, as a nation, cannot condone that type of behavior. I am not wanting to talk about the content of their unrest, but what are possible lessons that can be learned.

On the GOP side of the aisle, when you flirt with and condone extremism, this is the result. Elected officials have allowed this story line to develop, enabled and pacified true, domestic, ultra-conservative extremists. It is well beyond the point that these people need to be recognized as who they are. Proud Boys, Oath Keepers: they are terrorists. Please, be open to the idea that not everyone who says they think like you equated to them being ethical.

Democrats: Do not resort to, we told you so. The sins in the name of the left have now been seen on the other foot. Use the feelings you are experiencing to put how conservatives reacted to BLM and the Antifa extremism and terrorism. Show compassion and grace through understanding. Do not let this become the next Age of Reconstruction. You have the House, Senate, and White House. Do not use this situation as a method to push through retaliatory legislation. We cannot make that our next chapter.

Please join me and ask our elected representatives, along with ourselves to make the following priorities:

• Help stop the epidemic swiftly so we can heal and get the nation back on track

• Work on getting our economy moving by shopping local and small as much as possible.

• Stop the hoarding. If you have some, leave some for a neighbor.

• Instead of using the terms “Trumper,” “Libtard,” etc., realize that the person you are talking about is that, a person. If you want respect and want your opinion heard, you must give respect.

• Open your mind and read what the opposition thinks. Living in a vacuum means you can’t breathe. Think critically, research beyond one source, and listen.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all Men are created Equal.” All should be given the chance to be heard. All should be given the opportunity to succeed. All should be able to live without fear, no matter whom you voted for.

Boyd Crouter

Kamiah

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