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Flags throughout America should be lowered to half-staff to mark the death and the life of Alexei Navalny ("Jailed foe of Putin's tyranny silenced at 47," front page, Feb. 17). His political murder is the sin our nation was created to oppose. His life matters even more, because its example is so desperately needed, right here and right now.

The manner of his opposition to evil was so effective that he had to be killed by those he opposed. They knew that otherwise he would prevail. You can poison a person, starve him, send him to the harshest, coldest penal colony, but if he keeps telling the truth with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, then that truth, however constricted its journey to his countrymen, will topple those whose power was seized, not won, and serves no one but themselves.

Navalny's motto might have been "We hold these truths to be self-evident." Because when truths really are so, they eventually prevail.

That's what's so heartbreaking about our own politics now. The country is rigidly divided. Each side thinks it has the truth. But there's no way to test who's even partly right, because the truth is locked up in a gulag of hostility. So many are yelling and screaming and speaking only to their allies that anything self-evident is unable to be heard.

Self-evident means evident in to a majority of the people. But our political rules have been deliberately changed to prevent that from happening. General elections no longer weigh what's evident — primaries do. Our system has been altered so that while elections are open to all, the candidates are chosen by those increasingly fewer in number and more narrow in purpose.

The result is the near-collapse of our political system. Mobs displace elections, and so do experts. Our government is hopelessly deadlocked. City councils seem in urgent need of day care. The most thoughtful members of Congress are stepping down because their colleagues resemble those who stormed the place. If the proven results of an election can be so widely denied, what truth can be self-evident?

Every American can be a Navalny. And must be. It's a matter of trusting the majority, and never giving up.

David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and author.