To the Editor:

Has the U.S. become a nation of “deplorables” or of “human scum?” Republicans are, of course, deplorable conservatives and Democrats are human scum liberals. Unfortunately, name calling is what passes for political debate these days, especially on the cable news show and talk radio. Whatever happened to the idea of recognizing the other party’s point of view and reaching a compromise? You should turn to the “NewsHour” on PBS for actual pro and con discussion of the issues.

I am wondering how the word “liberal” became a negative label? After all, it was only with the advent of “Enlightenment Liberalism” that people began to believe that the individual should be protected from the dictates of state and church. Our Declaration of Independence in 1776 is an example of this liberalism. To liberate: “free from bondage.” Liberals tend to be open-minded and tolerant of others. Conservatives tend to be close-minded and intolerant of people of different ethnicities, races, religions, etc. Conservatives are traditionalists protecting the existing hierarchies of the church, state and big business. They abhor disruptions of the existing social order. Liberals are often reformers — appealing to our sense of social justice to improve the human condition, such as: ending slavery, promoting woman’s rights, breaking up monopolies, creating the New Deal programs of the 1930s including Social Security and later Medicare and Medicaid as well as the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s, occupational safety and environmentsl protections. Slowly, but surely, liberal ideas have improved civil rights and the human condition throughout the world.

Currently, liberal democracies, governments “of the people, by the people and for the people” are threatened by authoritarianism and autocratic wannabes around the world. A few autocrats have been elected by creating fear of some group, such as immigrants; some autocrats get elected in sham elections while others seize power by force.

Open and fair elections are the cornerstone of liberal democracies. Don’t let foreign intervention, disinformation on social media and people who put party before country extinguish the shining beacon of hope that is the United States of America.

Richard Peterson