Year of incivility

Staying sane in a time that Donald Trump is running for POTUS

Last week, as is the practice at many newspapers prior to an election, I amended CN&R’s guidelines for letters to the editor. In short, I’m allowing only one letter from the same author on a single election-related subject. It’s a good practice in general, and I hope it encourages others to write in with their thoughts on the issues, especially the local races. But it’s also something that needed to happen to keep me sane.

That’s in part because I was getting letters with outrageous claims—mostly attributed to partisan websites. I found myself spending hours attempting to verify facts that ended up being part of the whackadoo propagandist paradigm. In many cases, when I refuted the info, I was met with disdain—ALL CAPS responses, lots of exclamation points (sometimes every sentence!) and other times name-calling.

Most of the letter writers I’m referring to are Trump supporters.

As far as I’m concerned, the year of Donald Trump is the year of incivility. My email inbox has never been filled with so many angry, sometimes hateful letters. Most of them aren’t meant for print but rather are screeds to me personally. The one at right—in which an Orland resident calls me a moron—is one of the exceptions. I’ve left his letter unedited so that readers may get the gist of what the 2016 presidential election is like for the editor of this county’s largest newspaper—and likely for editors around the nation.

But not everyone has devolved into name-calling. There are some smart, thought-provoking letters in this week’s issue. They are worth reading.

Speaking of which, there are three about District 1 Congressman Doug LaMalfa, a staunch Trump supporter who’s standing by his man this week. That’s unlike many of his Washington cohorts, especially those in the upper echelon of the party—folks like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Gov. John Huntsman—who have not only disavowed Trump’s recently publicized vulgar comments but also are calling for the billionaire businessman to step down.

On Sunday, LaMalfa’s camp issued a statement to local TV station Action News Now calling Trump’s language “braggadocio.” LaMalfa goes on to invoke his religion—that he prays Trump has, as he put it, “fully repented of such an attitude. Grace provides that we accept his apology as sincere and that he builds trust and humility from that point forward.”

Makes me wonder if LaMalfa listened to the same so-called apology that I saw from Trump on the night the Washington Post published the audio and video of him talking to low-life gossip journalist Billy Bush about his sense of entitlement with women’s bodies. We saw no contrition from Trump, but rather him attacking former President Bill Clinton, spreading hearsay.

Here’s the thing. Trump didn’t brag about bedding women. He admitted to sexually assaulting them; that is, that he thinks he doesn’t need permission to grope them. He is a woman abuser, plain and simple. Last time I checked, those aren’t exactly Christian—or conservative—values.

Trump is forcing a day of reckoning for the Republican Party. I’m betting there are a lot of local prayers that LaMalfa has his own day of reckoning on Nov. 8.