Polarization is a problem, but the proposed fix in “We need more of the Extreme Moderate” (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 24) is not a real solution. Throwing your hands up and exclaiming, “I don’t know anything about politics, I have no idea how to solve this mess!” is not the same as being a political moderate, it’s just an admission that you’re willing to be persuaded by the best rhetorician at a given time. It’s a totally unsophisticated approach that doesn’t solve anything.

A truly moderate approach means treating your ideological opponents as people who can be reasoned and negotiated with, which is something we’ve lost. It’s about respect more than uncertainty. Republicans and Democrats are very polarized, but it’s the result of the Washington bureaucrat’s game that we’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked into and become a part of. We’ve totally lost control of the narrative.

Instead of putting the emphasis on the lack of solutions, I would focus on the identification of the problems. A large cause of the divide in politics is disagreement over what constitutes a problem worth solving. When deciding who to vote for, we should align ourselves with candidates who share our worldview. Solutions can be picked apart to no end and are always subject to change via the political process. It’s obvious that no candidate will be able to enact their entire agenda. But the areas where they will focus their energy are important. The problems they talk about and drive change on are important.

The author is right. We the people don’t know the perfect solutions to America’s problems. That’s impossible to ask of the average citizen with a mortgage and a car and a family. These problems are extremely complicated. However, citizens can effectively identify the biggest problems they and their community face. In aligning with candidates that agree on the problem, we can be a part of working toward productive solutions.

Max Minsker, Minneapolis

IMPEACHMENT

Trump must not set the precedent

I am a registered Republican and participated in the Republican caucuses in 2016. Long ago, I had the privilege of working in Washington for a Republican congressman.

I have listened to several hours of the testimony by the House managers over the past few days (“Dems seek to pre-empt Trump’s defense,” Jan. 24). The evidence that they are presenting is extremely damning. It is clear that President Donald Trump pursued his personal interests and caused potential harm to our relations with Ukraine, actually benefiting the Russians. I believe his actions are criminal in nature. Trump’s efforts to obstruct House investigations amount to a guilty plea. The only reason to block witnesses and documents is that they are highly incriminating. I believe that the evidence to date is clear and irrefutable, but if senators are not yet convinced, they should call witnesses and issue subpoenas for documents.

This scandal is 1,000 times worse than Watergate. Trump has damaged national security to promote his personal interests. His efforts to cover up his crimes is beyond any precedent. Even Nixon showed some respect for the Constitution.

Senators must honor their oath to protect the Constitution. The Senate should demand that all relevant documentation be released to the public. They need to remove Trump or at the very least take action to ensure that he will not be the candidate of the Republican Party. At a minimum, the Senate should pass a resolution to censure the president for his actions. The Senate cannot allow Trump’s behavior to serve as a precedent for the future.

Paul Caryotakis, Plymouth

SOCIAL SECURITY

Stop taxing benefits we need

There is hope! As a senior, I was happy to see the state GOP is going to push for an end to a tax on Social Security income (“GOPers unveil agenda for 2020,” Jan. 14). Since Gov. Tim Walz has adopted the former Gov. Mark Dayton theory of “tax everyone, and then tax them again,” it’s refreshing to see that Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka realizes this is a very unfair tax and it needs to end.

Minnesota is one of only 13 states that collects this tax on money that residents have been giving the government since they started working. Instead of taxing seniors as the state does now, our representatives should be happy to change things so retirees get their benefits in full. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said the GOP is “proposing tax giveaways for the wealthy.” I’m not sure what planet he is from, but the retirees I know are mostly just regular Minnesotans, with many totally relying on their Social Security checks every month. I would definitely not call them wealthy!

It’s time for this tax to stop.

Thomas Johnson, Bloomington

• • •

Even though I am a person who has lived many decades, I drive the two miles into town each day to purchase the Star Tribune. Rarely do I react so strongly that I would like to start a fight, but then I saw a headline in Thursday’s edition: “Trump opens door to cutting entitlements.” It was a long article stating why some government programs might have to be cut.

A mere four years ago candidate Trump promised in an election campaign that he would “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts.” I understand that costs have nearly gone out of control, but that is hardly the fault of our senior citizens, retired people or disabled workers. We have not become jet-setters flying to meetings and conferences all over the world. Do I dare to suggest that golf courses and fancy resorts are available in the northern regions of our country?

There is no question that spending reductions are necessary; I get it. I understand budgets; my budget contains my living expenses — you know, such necessities as food, a home and maintenance, transportation (how would I drive to town to get the paper without my car?). I even have the added expense of a feisty dog, my church contributions and a bridge game or a movie now and then. I know how to cut back when needed. Please, don’t even think about cutting our entitlements, they were funded by withholdings from our paychecks during our working careers. They are not trivial; they are necessities.

Phyllis Currier Deer, Akeley, Minn.

CLIMATE CHANGE

We are more than the economics

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s arrogance is bad enough, but his ignorance is truly appalling. Greta Thunberg, he says, shouldn’t talk about climate change until she has an economics degree.

Climate change is not fundamentally an economic phenomenon. Maybe Mnuchin should get a science degree before shooting off his mouth.

More to the point, human beings are not fundamentally economic beings. Sure, the conditions of our lives are determined largely by economic factors — the hours we work and the income we earn. But we are moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. We have a spirit. We experience joy and sorrow. These are not economic phenomena. Yet, Mnuchin understands us only as buyers and sellers; as capitalists, consumers and workers.

Climate change has the potential to visit awful suffering on mankind, but, again, it is not fundamentally an economic phenomenon. And, so, people like Mnuchin could care less about it. But, their ignorance is willful, fueled by a lust for money and power. I would trust the future to the wisdom of Greta Thunberg over the ignorance of Steven Mnuchin every time.

Marc Hugunin, Stillwater

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