The reader who wrote that many in this country would never vote to elect a gay president (“These candidates won’t win,” Feb. 7) was, at best, half right. History has proven time and again that American voters will never elect certain categories of people as president — until they will. A shortlist of firsts includes: James Buchanan (first bachelor, elected in 1857); John Kennedy (first Catholic, elected in 1960); Ronald Reagan (first divorced person, elected in 1980); Barack Obama (first African-American, elected in 2008); and Donald Trump (the first president with absolutely no prior public service experience, whether political or military, elected in 2016). Because each of these elections has actually happened, we forget how improbable they once appeared. We would do well to never say never again.

If anyone among us seriously believes that Americans will never elect a gay president, I suggest that they have an honest discussion with younger voters — people who are millennials or members of Generation Z. What they can expect to discover is an overwhelming disbelief among the young that significant numbers of people actually still believe that a person’s sexual orientation is remotely relevant in assessing their ability to lead.

Never elect a gay president? Nonsense. The day is coming when sexual orientation will be as immaterial to the discussion of a candidate’s electability as whether the candidate is right-or left-handed or (gasp!) what their gender is, and all of us will be the better for it.

Brian Kidwell, Bloomington

• • •

A Friday letter to the editor cannot go without response. The writer argues that Buttigieg is unacceptable to some in both parties simply because he is gay. Possibly true, but bigots are united behind Trump already — and frankly that’s where their votes will probably go irrespective of who the Democratic nominee is, or his or her sexual orientation.

And to suggest that Michael Bloomberg is the panacea is simply an affront to the democratic process. Shall we simply auction off offices to reduce the deficit? We have had enough of one bloviating billionaire already and have no need for another — especially one whose stop-and-frisk policies targeted over 5 million young African-Americans, many of whom, no, most of whom, were stopped simply for being black.

Bloomberg now admits this was a mistake. What kinds of mistakes will he make regarding America’s civil liberties if he resides in the White House instead of Gracie Mansion?

David Peterson, Duluth

IMPEACHMENT

Time to rebuild a shared reality

Though I wanted a guilty verdict, I see a ray of hope in this impeachment acquittal. The illusion that President Donald Trump did nothing wrong is cracking. Sen. Mitt Romney said it quite clearly, but many of the others who voted for acquittal seem to be agreeing with the facts that what he did was very wrong.

Trump and his friends at Fox and in the Republican Party have been destroying the shared reality that once held this now-divided country together. That may be the worst of his crimes against this country.

We used to believe our intelligence services had things right. We used to believe the press gave us mostly accurate reporting and was not our enemy. We used to believe things clearly said on tape were not hoaxes. We used to believe science and scientists weren’t making up something as important as global climate change, most certainly not as a conspiracy to get research grants. We used to believe calling out wrong was fair, not unfair.

We used to believe truth-telling was important and lying was to be taken seriously. We used to believe autocrats were bad guys who lied and were not trustworthy.

But Trump, with his political allies, have been attacking our nation’s shared reality shamelessly, recklessly and dangerously. That’s how we got so divided.

My highest respect and gratitude goes to Romney for his courageous return to the shared reality that holds us together. History may well record his speech in the Senate and his vote as the turning point to what our country needed to reunite, heal and become a great nation again.

Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis

• • •

Now that the dust has settled a bit from the great impeachment trial, it is remarkable — and scary — that only an occasional senator (notably, Romney) seems aware that, only a few days previously, they had all taken a solemn oath to act with “impartial justice” so help them God during their jury service. We all saw them back it up with their signature in a big book. Did they cross their fingers behind their backs?

So now, what does an oath mean, if anything? In the future, when these august senators attempt to swear to uphold the Constitution — or anything else required for public office — will that be any more valid than this public oath? Are some oaths more real than others? With this precedent, how can we have faith in any such swearing? Or do we need a constitutional amendment to classify the various values or ratings of different public oaths? This massive mob hypocrisy casts a baleful light on the grandeur of the U.S. Senate.

John C. Green, Duluth

• • •

Still think the impeachment verdict wasn’t political? Do the accounts of Sens. Romney and Doug Jones not illustrate the nagging politics of what was supposed to be an impartial Senate vote? Does the now shaky future acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney not indicate a continual cleansing of all in the administration who do not agree with the president or won’t further his agenda without question? And what were the chances that 100 sworn-to-God-to-be-impartial senators would vote along party lines? Next to 100%!

To me, all this signifies the rot that resides in our politics today. The president stated during the 2016 campaign that he was going to drain the swamp, to rid Washington of its corrupt, do-nothing politicians. I think it’s time for him to lead the way.

Loren W. Brabec, Braham, Minn.

PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM

Not all recipients are Rosa Parks

About 500 Presidential Medals of Freedom have been awarded. Former President Barack Obama alone distributed 123, including to Joe Biden. Steve Sack’s Friday editorial cartoon mocks President Donald Trump for giving Rush Limbaugh the award by comparing him to Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. Shall we compare Joe Biden, Bill Cosby and Bob Dylan to those heroes as well? Trump has awarded only a handful of these medals. Of course, the paper cannot refrain from mocking and disparaging everything that Trump does, nor can it resist taking a dig at Limbaugh.

Patricia Landers, Maplewood

• • •

The commentary trying to cite the reasons that Limbaugh supporters had some legitimacy in their endorsement of his Presidential Medal of Freedom award (“The divisive case for giving Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” StarTribune.com, Feb. 6) should have been titled “There are good people on both sides.” The notion that “marginalized” people — suddenly swept up by “liberal hypocrisy” — were somehow given self esteem, or whatever, by Limbaugh is cognitive dissonance. Limbaugh denigrated marginalized people. He even suggested that people addicted to drugs should be treated as criminals — until he, sadly, became an addict himself.

Limbaugh deserves compassion and support as he deals with a horrific cancer. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is undeserving of a recognition that honors exceptional contributions to community.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis

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